This is not a rant - alternative keyboards

Here is a fairly small BT keyboard that looks okay. Not the TB, but maybe worth a look as an alternate while you wait…

Ok so I have been rolling my planck for a while now and I am already typing faster on this then on regular keyboards…my error rate is up but not by much.

I have setup some basic layers and have chosen to go 4 x 12 rather then have even the small space bar in the default layout.

The left of the space key is now a shift / shift lock key and the right is now a space key.

Portability is fairly good, though I feel I need to make a case for it to ensure that it doesn’t get damaged in transit.

I have also settled on a magnetic USB adapter, this is great for connecting, and if I get lost in the layers it is a very quick reset by disconnecting the power and booting the keyboard back up. Thus dropping me back to the default layer.

There is much that I still want to do with this thing, it is just a matter of time and patience.

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Ok so I have now been using the Planck; for quite a while now.

The more i use this keeb the better it gets. This thing is just awesome.
Auto-shift has basically removed my need for a shift key; which I have moved and turned into a shift-lock.
I have also gone to a full 4*12 layout; so my space bar is now a space key; The other half is now my leader key

The leader key is super useful; I have a few macros programmed into it with a whole heap more to add in for specific use cases.
e.g. I have my personal email address on Lead+P and my business email on Lead+B; and a slightly more complex Lead+A-A-U opens a terminal; alt-tab’s to the terminal waits a bit then enters the text “sudo apt-get update” and sends an enter, I then enter my password to do my regular updates.

Every time I use it; I have more ideas around what I could do.

The open firmware is super customizable, which makes this the ultimate keeb. After using the Planck (or any Qmk based board) the TextBlade will have to be pretty damn good to surpass this.

RandomAdam - your acclimation to Planck ortholinear + layers shows that new architecture can indeed work better than the old paradigm.

Shown below is the lowest profile Planck, about 23mm thick and 233mm long.

For rough comparison of scale, Planck is about twice as long as iPhone plus, and about 8X the volume of the same phone.

iPhone shown in photo next to TextBlade for scale.

TextBlade at 5mm thick, and blades are about 105mm long.

Volume of stowed TextBlade < 10% of Planck.

If you like the feel of Planck with ortholinear keys, TextBlade keys should feel very good to you.

What do you mean by “auto-shift”? We all know about how iOS will automatically give the next character after a period to be uppercase. Do you mean something more?

The leader key sounds interesting, but some examples you gave, I just do with the TB macro capability.

I can see how someone may just prefer something more like a traditional keyboard, especially if, using the TB, they still have many situations they have to use a standard keyboard, they may find it easier switching between a work machine and their planck at home. At least short term.

Auto shift is automatic shift, if you hold a key for approx twice as long as a standard key-press (tunable) the a shifted key will be sent.

This can be enabled / disabled for key types; i have it turned on for all keys except numbers at this stage.

Standard auto-shift period is 150ms. Sometimes this is a little long, but you quickly get used to it.


The planck “feels” really sturdy, with the aluminum base being quite substantial. You could totally get away with a lighter base made of wood or plastic.

I have full travel switches on my Planck which I really like, but I’m keen on seeing how a TB compares in this regard.

I get comments on how “small” the Planck is compared to other keyboards when i am on site; it will be a shock to people when I get a TB.


I haven’t kept up with all the various keyboard standards, but I remember when Apple came out with their new one and bragged about 1 mm travel. At that time, I saw a lot of stuff about 2 mm being standard. And while some liked the reduced travel, the impression I’ve gotten is most prefer the 2 mm. Which is what the TB has, I believe.

While I’ve used a bunch of keyboards and definitely find the TB to have the best feel, I’ve never had one of the top mechanical ones - at least not that I knew of! I wish I had, just so I could make that comparison. Too late now since, no matter how good a mechanical keyboard is, there is no way for me to make that comparison now since too many other changes would be involved and I’m sure not willing to put the time into that testing!

If any treg users have used plancks or other top keyboards, I’d love to see how they think they compare.

However, for me, even if there was something out there with a “better” feel, I wouldn’t want to give up the other advantages of the TB - portability, able to use one keyboard for all my devices, massive customization, etc.

My setup today


I was using an Ergodox with clears and a Kinesis advantage with browns before getting my treg unit. I’d say that the Cherry switches do have a slightly nicer feel, especially the browns, but the textblade still has a good feel to it. Coupled with the rest of the features and the size & layout it has taken over from the others as my main daily keyboard. In comparison, I got a 2018 macbook pro (with those keys referred to above by DBK) which just feels atrocious, and that’s before you factor in the horrible traditional keyboard layout rather than the nice ergonomic stylings of a blade or my other boards.


I’m running browns on my Planck. The key feel is really nice; I am getting to the point that regular sized keebs are feeling like they are too big.

It is not too bad since I am on and off various computers over the course of a week, but the more I use the Planck the more I miss it when I’m on something else.

As for key feel on a laptop; by far and away the best I have used is my System 76 Oryx Pro (v3); my old Alienware M15x was also nice; my little Dell (pictured above) is utter crap; as are many “thin and light” laptops I have used over the years.

So after four-and-a-half years of only buying cheap portable keyboards that didn’t work well because I kept being assured that the amazing keyboard I’d already paid for was, at most, three months away…

I’ve bitten the bullet and ordered a Planck EZ.

Does anyone know if there’s a QMK map that mimics, particularly, the home-row move and select functions on the TextBlade so I can practise for (checks notes) as long as it takes before I finally get my TB?

I can certainly make a project of doing one up myself (with lights!) but never hurts to ask.

Or I could just continue trying to learn Vim. I guess.

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I think @hangie had worked out something. You might try send him a private message in case he normally isn’t checking the forum.

I didn’t do anything for the Planck specifically, but I did implement AHK mappings for normal keyboards (on Windows) to have TextBlade’s layer type stuff.

Ah, thanks Hangie (and DBK). That’s a great starting point. Cheers!

(Pretty sure QMK has a way to distinguish tapping and holding a key, which should help with the df issue. Still a couple of weeks from getting to try it IRL.)

QMK has mod tap and layer tap keys using the MT and LT macros e.g. LT(GREEN, KC_SPACE) would send a space when tapped and switch to the “green” layer when held.

Perfect! Thanks dshields. Still getting my head around the possibilities. (There’s a lot of them!)

Interesting article this afternoon from NYTimes…

Using 2 thumbs gets people an average of ~40 wpm, and that’s about 70% of what people average on a laptop! This is up from about 20-25 wpm when smart phones first came out. (And teen agers are about 10 wpm better than folks in their 40’s.)

Here’s How to Type Faster on Your Phone

The test is at

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I swyped my way to 34wpm - right in the middle of the pack. On the plus side, I left 0.47% of characters uncorrected, which is zeroth percentile :blush:

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I gather Patrick was muted for posting to a lot of threads; I got an email he’d asked me a question but now it’s gone.

So in good faith, Patrick: the Planck keyboard delights me. It’s gorgeous to look at and fun to use. I went through several iterations of reprogramming it (layers, lights etc.) because a lot of punctuation and secondary keys aren’t placed where I’d expect them to be by default. (I haven’t yet found the time to recreate the TextBlade layout which might make a difference.) And I’m still getting the hang of QMK—worth noting the EZ website has an excellent graphical interface that makes flashing new layouts simple, even from a Mac. Build-you-own and other Plancks require extra downloaded software to flash firmware, from what I could gather. EZ does it all from the browser.

That’s some of the positives. But—because there’s no substitute for learning the key positions, (and because I’m waiting on a couple of USB-C cables :slight_smile: ), the Planck hasn’t become my main keyboard yet. I still think it could, but I haven’t had a chance to put the time into using-it-without-thinking.

It’s good for portability, but not that much better than my 60% RK-61, which I only bought because it was the cheapest mechanical keyboard I could find at the time (and which has Bluetooth).

Next time (if I can eventually afford a next time) I’d probably consider getting a 40% keyboard that isn’t ortholinear, like the Minivan or Pearl. That feels like it would be easier to become familiar with for touch typing. Of course, that may just be me wanting the thing I don’t have.

Hope that helps.