The Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB Gaming Mechanical Keyboard Review: An Ergonomic Masterpieceby E. Fylladitakis on July 16, 2019 1:30 PM EST
Kinesis is a computer peripherals manufacturer solely focused on the design and manufacture of ergonomic input devices. They were one of the first companies in the field, with their earliest ergonomic products released nearly three decades ago. That makes Kinesis one of the oldest peripherals manufacturers, with the brand establishing a solid number of followers over the years.
Until recently, Kinesis designed and released products exclusively targeted towards professionals that work long hours in front of a computer. Despite their peculiar appearance and the narrow target group, virtually every one of their products has been a memorable success. Last year Kinesis took a huge leap of faith and started a crowdfunding campaign for an ergonomic mechanical gaming keyboard, giving birth to the Freestyle Edge, the world’s first ergonomic gaming mechanical keyboard. This summer Kinesis is giving the Freestyle Edge an upgrade via the release of the Freestyle Edge RGB, which we'll be looking at today.
Though before we even start, we should note that Kinesis did not merely add RGB lighting, as the keyboard’s name suggests. It is true that most companies just added an “RGB” suffix next to their keyboard’s original name and released virtually the same keyboard with RGB lighting added to it. Kinesis, on the other hand, took their time correcting issues and making improvements to the underlying Freestyle Edge design, making the Freestyle Edge RGB a true upgrade over the previous version.
Packaging and Bundle
Kinesis supplies the Freestyle Edge RGB in a well-designed cardboard box. The artwork is centered on the keyboard and its most prominent features. Inside the box, we found the keyboard very well protected with layers upon layers of cardboard packaging, plus nylon bags. The company has provided us with the optional Lift Kit as well, which we will examine alongside with the keyboard.
Save for the keyboard itself, there is nothing in the box but a simple quick start guide. The guide is very helpful to have handy due to the numerous advanced functions of the keyboard. Kinesis does not provide any other accessories. A keycap puller would have been nice but that is not the end of the world.
The optional lift kit allows for the keyboard to “tent”. The mechanisms are large and plastic (ABS) but they are well designed, durable and practical. Their movements are very smooth, and their construction is very solid. Still, they are unlikely to survive excessive mechanical shock while the keyboard is fully elevated. Short-tempered users notoriously known for rage punching are advised to steer away from the lift kit (or take much-needed anger management lessons).
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bldr - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - linkMaybe it's just me, but this review is so positive it reads like a paid advertisement. To the point I was looking for clues or comments thinking the same. As I didn't see any, maybe I've just developed review trust issues lol.
Ryan Smith - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - linkTo be sure, it's not a paid review. E. just really, really liked it. I'm pretty sure he's found his perfect keyboard.
marc1000 - Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - linkhi Ryan. since we are talking keyboards, what would you think of reviewing an "office" one? I love gaming and high-end reviews, but spend most of my online time writing things at office - where it is the company who decides what to purchase.
recently I discovered Dell KB522, which is cheap, silent, has a couple programable keys (directly on regedit, no fancy software/driver), and also a couple extra USB ports (think mouse and headphone), all with a really familiar layout. for me, it is amazing for office usage, but I would love to read more "corporate reviews" if at all possible.
DanNeely - Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - linkAny keyboard reviewer is going to hate it. They're all mechanical keyboard snobs and sneer at membrane designs.
Ryan Smith - Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - linkHmm. I completely understand why you'd want to see such a review. But to be honest, it probably wouldn't be worth our time. High-end keyboards do as well as they do because of the window shopping effect; but history indicates that there's probably not much reader demand (i.e. traffic) in reviewing budget Dell keyboards.
mode_13h - Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - linkHigh-end keyboards? Did you see my post about the Advantage 2, below?
Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - linkI'm literally typing on one of these right now and I never noticed the extra USB ports until you mentioned them. It has, or rather it started off having what I considered to be a decent key feel for a membrane keyboard, but I have recently found that some of the keys are getting squeaky after less than a year of use, which is disappointing. Call me a mechanical keyboard snob if you must, but a Cherry MX-based keyboard wouldn't be doing that.
Other than the longevity issue, I doubt I have much to add that you don't already know from your own experience. It's head and shoulders above the newer, flat-topped chiclet-style Dell keyboard that came after it (which I have only briefly had the "privilege" of using), which is listed on Amazon as the KB216 (but I think there are a few different, similar models).
It's also superior to its contemporary non-multimedia keyboard, the KB212-B, because that keyboard has switches that wear rather quickly and require harder and harder presses to register. Again, not a problem with any mechanical switch worth its salt.
I believe that the older Dell keyboards with the full-sized keycaps were better than the KB522, but since I never had a brand new one sitting in front of me to break in, I can't provide a direct comparison. Eventually they wore down, too, with squeaky, hard-to-press keys, but I've used ones that were old to the point where some of the more heavily-used keys had smooth, shiny caps, legends long since completely obliterated, but the board was still usable.
twtech - Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - linkThe older non-RGB Kinesis Freestyle Edge is actually what I use as my office keyboard. If you were one of those people who liked/used the MS split keyboards, and don't want to switch to a more exotic layout, but wished they made a mechanical version - this is where you end up.
I participated in the Kickstarter, and have been using two of them since launch. Haven't had any issues so far, which is more than can be said for most of the split mechanical keyboards I tried in the past.
I actually also owned a Kinesis Maxim before this, which was a similar keyboard, but the two halves were tied together, and the keys were rubber-domes.
Powerlurker - Thursday, July 18, 2019 - linkOwner/user of a 17-year-old MS Natural Elite and that's exactly why I kinda want one of these.
twtech - Thursday, July 18, 2019 - linkAnother plus if you're coming from a MS board, is that the Kinesis puts the 6 on the left side, just like the MS. Some split boards have it on the right.
If you go for it, the lift kit is a must, and if your desk surface is smooth, you'll want to get one of those big mouse-pad-material mats to put the keyboard on to keep the halves from sliding around slightly during use.
One thing that takes some time to get used to is that there are other keys immediately to the right and left of your typing keys. For example, I found when I first started using it, that I had a tendency when not typing to locate the "Enter" key by feel from the right edge of the board. Well, on this board, that's not the Enter key right there at the edge - it's PgUp. So I remapped the navigation keys to the left side of the board as a workaround.