This post is another love letter to the piece of technology I like a lot. Not so hot passion, definitely not that long time spent together, yet I need to write about it. And on it.
As you may already guess, this post is about the keyboard—concretely the X-Bows Knight. I have been using it for only a couple of weeks, but I am already almost unable to use any other keyboard. It is not flawless, and I already spend some time emailing the producer support, yet there is no rose without the thorn, and positive sure reigns my feelings about it.
When I switched to Linux, I wanted some ergonomic keyboard, as Apple ones are anything that, and my wrists started to complain from time to time. After a short search, I have settled for the Microsoft (oh the irony) Sculpt keyboard mouse combo. It is a good product for a fair price. In the passing time, I have bought one for my wife and my sister too. One of the reasons I liked this keyboard a lot was the option to use a wedge-shaped part, which can revert the slope of the keyboard. In other words, the keyboard tilts away from the user.
I also improved my touch typing, as the separate parts for each hand dictate just that. My wrist felt much more relaxed, and overall basic functionality was fine. The only thing I was missing was a better chance to configure the keyboard. I have become an avid user of the Sway window manager, so I needed to squeeze the maximum number of shortcut key combinations so that the mouse could rest. And I was not into using something like keyd.
Then one night chatting with the best computer friend, we touched the issue, as I was almost ordering the Ergodox keyboard, I have found lately. He told me that he bought the X-Bows Knight and, except for the problems with customs during the Covid, is very happy he did. And that he just received a promo email about the new version of the keyboard they started to sell (not deliver, though), which uses QMK software for configuration. I immediately went to the product page and bought one. And I started to wait.
After a couple of months, I received an email that keyboards started to be delivered and should await mine. And in another couple of weeks, the delivery service messaged me that they had something for me tomorrow. I was not at home, but the agent who received it from the messenger (aka brother-in-law) confirmed that package size and shape hints on the keyboard.
I unpacked the keyboard, connected it, and it started the light show (literally). I tamed the light for one consistent color and started to use it. And I was happy from the start. In the evening, I showed it to my wife, and she was not that enthusiastic about it as I was. So I decided to show her the magic: QMK configuration and flashing. I removed caps and put escape on it, switched the left alt and OS key (my mod Sway key), and disabled the Enter key on the right side. I downloaded the compiled software and used the Windows version to flash it. But something seemed odd with the new software, so I decided to put the default configuration from the QMK. And the light went off. I started wev and found that the keyboard is connected and responding (good), but it works only as part of the numerical keypad in the left top corner. And definitely, there was no binding for the DFU mode, which is needed to flash it again. So I wrote to X-Bows support about another way to enter DFU and received an answer requesting a demonstration video showing the malfunction. I replied I was unsure what I would put into the video and told me about that reset button. In the second reply, I received the guide, I removed all caps, all switches, half of the screws, a box with the motherboard, screws on it, and voila, I saw the small switch button. I powered the keyboard while holding it, and in DFU mode, it came up in factory settings. Hurray!
So I again configured QMK software, booted Windows, and flashed it. Everything is ok from that moment. I started small with not too many keys changed at a time, but after a couple of flashes (uaaaa), I have a pretty unique setup. The whole bottom line of the keys is changed. Left space is left alt when held; right space is right alt when held. Bottom ctrl is open paren when tapped, and bottom shift is closing paren when tapped (I will stay Janet!). And so much more. I am already at the place where I have a tough time using any other keyboard. One of the keyboards' features is choosing the type of switches when you buy one. I chose the brown silent, and I find them very comfortable. I have never paid attention to this on my old keyboards, but now I feel the difference when sitting by the MS Sculpt. I also very much like the RGB color of the backlight. You can have not only color and shade you like. You can have an effect where light is pulsing, rotating, and swirling, even in the reaction of your key presses. Not that I use this feature, I settled for nice reddish amber color for that night's oil burning. On the minus side, I would like to mention that it is not easy to make a slope in the other direction, as is possible with the MS Sculpt, but I am already designing a custom 3D printed wedge for this purpose. Also, the wristband bought together with the keyboard is not to my liking, but the cheap one I ordered separately from local amazon is perfectly ok.
As I already wrote, even after a couple of weeks of using this keyboard, I am delighted with the buy, and I highly recommend it to friends and random people. I think it is outstanding value for the excellent price. And they even released the cheap Lite model without the QMK support tho.