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KeyboardIO Atreus longterm review

2022-06-19 22:29:00

On august 11, 2021 I took delivery of a KeyboardIO Atreus keyboard. And I have been using the Atreus for over 10 months now and I just love this keyboard. Sometimes I still need to look keys on the reference card. But I am mostly able to just write and program with it and my typing speed is on the same level as it was on a regular keyboard.

My Atreus with palm rest and Qwerty keycaps.

Build Quality

The keyboard and palmrest are not showing any signs of wear. Except for one notable exception. The palmrest's feet. In the first couple of weeks the feet were sliding all over the bottom corners of the palmrest. After a short while I just gave up on them and removed them all four. In my case it was no issue because the palmrest is on a desk-mat.

The keyboard body, the wood of the palmrest, the keycaps and switches. They all look and feel like the day I unboxed the keyboard.

Health Benefits

The one thing the Atreus has brought me above all, I do not have any issues with my hands anymore at the moment. It used to be that after a day with much typing, my hands would be sore. Nowadays, they're just sometimes a bit tired. This is obviously my own observations and in no way backed by any research or medical supervision. Especially on days I hardly need the reference card, the keyboard just disappears and I am typing without any conscious thought about the keyboard itself. But it took a while and very deliberate practice to get there.

All in all the small form factor in a split layout with layers really works well for me.

More keyboard switch experiments

Soon after receiving the Atreus keyboard I tried a number of switches in my Atreus:

  • Kailh Box Whites
  • Cherry Brown
  • Kailh Speed Copper
  • Kailh Box Navies

As I already mentioned in my initial review, the Speed Copper switches were just triggering too easily for me. I loved the clicky experience from Box Whites I received with the keyboard. Cherry Browns felt good, but I really missed the "clicks". I made one excursion to Box Navies, but those were too heavy for my taste. So I went back to Box Whites again.

Keycaps

The keycaps delivered with the Atreus keyboard are proper PBT caps with an XDA profile. Nothing wrong with them really. They're just very good. Which is what you want for keycaps.

I also have a blind set of keycaps for the Atreus. I noticed I am fine typing with or without key legends. In the end I just like the esthetics of key legends more. One drawback I did discover, I considered mixing the two keycap sets, the ones with legends and the blanks. But they turned out to have a different shade of dark gray/black.

Layout and Firmware Customisation

After 10 months I still run the default layout with the swapped space and backspace keys. I tried a few experiments with different layouts. A single customisation that stuck was assigning the keyboard shortcut Control+Command+Space to the ; key on the second layer. A much easier way to show the emoji picker on macOS.

If you are somewhat familiar with Arduino development, picking up firmware customisation is quite easy.

If you just want to remap your keymap, the Chrysalis utility is more than enough. Best part, any changes you make are stored in the keyboard's onboard memory.

Model-100

I am eagerly awaiting my Model-100 to be ready for shipping. I backed the project on July 28, 2021. I do not need any other keyboard right now, the Atreus is just that good for me. But I expect the Model-100 to be even better.

Conclusion

All in all I really, really like my Atreus keyboard. There were two drawbacks:

  • The rubber feet underneath the palmrest not sticking.
  • The blank keycap set having a different color.

If you have any questions or things you want me to share my experience on with this keyboard. Let me know, easiest is a DM on Twitter. @appforce1.


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