It has been around 4 months since I built my Atreus. I have been using it ever since on permanent basis. I think it is a fair time to write about how I feel with the keyboard.
After building it, I used it for basic things such as typing some random things. Instantly I knew I am not as fast as I used to be with the keyboard. And I knew that because of the row staggering, things are going to be a bit tricky. So, the same day as I built it, I practiced typing on Atreus for around 4 hours. Started with basic things - pure basic typing tutors. At the end I was at ~35 WPM. Which was satisfactory for the first day. I was still confused about which key is where.
This continued for next 3 days. I would only practice on it, and leave it. After a while, I got slow on the qwerty, column staggered keyboard! Now I was confused on both the keyboards. I would press
x instead of
c and such. That was weird, but logical.
Soon after practicing for a week, I decided to turn it into a primary and only keyboard I would use. That meant, I write code using Atreus.
And THAT WAS NOT EASY.
For first 10 minutes.
Because I was already moderately familiar with the layout by now, writing became easier. I was so happy.
Initially, I was familiar with only the first layer. For second and third layers, I would refer to the layout and not bother remembering it. Slowly, I got familiar with the second layer too, and now getting familiar with the third one. The third one is last because it contains arrows. And being an Emacs user, I rarely need arrows. My speed is fairly improved, I don’t have to look at the keyboard and rarely miss keys. All this with added ease of typing!
I think the easy way to learn this keyboard layout would be to start gradually. First use the first layer, get familiar, and then learn the rest of the keys as you need them. Also, when you want to type some key that you don’t know where it is located, don’t hit the laptop’s keys or switch to the layout you’ve been used to. Make yourself use Atreus and refer to the layout.
I have the clicky switches. I so love the sound of every key press. It makes a precise click. This is the real joy of mech keyboards. Many people asked me which keyboard it is, how can you even type on it, where are the other keys, don’t you go mad with it, are you crazy, what is this thing on your desk, wow this looks cool where do I get one etc etc. Answering them all have been fun. Some liked it and some just meh’d.
The portability this keyboard gives is extraordinary. It is light, thin, small, sturdy. Although I haven’t tried to put it in my pocket, it goes easily in my bag, doesn’t take up much space. Even the shape helps while carrying it in hand because of that slight angle at the bottom.
Key bindings in Emacs make most sense with this keyboard. Initially I felt I’ll go crazy and will have to change every key binding. Then it started making sense. Slowly, patterns emerged. For e.g.
C-x 5 o takes you to the other window. Initially I felt this is weird and not as good because I would have to press
fn key, but I kept using it while thinking about alternative. But after using it for 5-6 times, I got used to it and it is not uncomfortable at all! For most of the new bindings I have learned, the same has been the case. Initially it is weird, then perfect. I now don’t have to move my hands at all except when I need mouse. They stay at a place and type.
After using it for 4 months, I can comfortably say I dislike column staggered layout in general, I hate Emacs keybindings with that layout and I can see the benefits this keyboard has given me are already vast.
In short - this keyboard is fantastic. Use it with a tiling window manager and you’re all set.
If you have queries, suggestions or opinions on this, comment!
Edit: as technomancy points out, I’ve messed up column and row staggering. You get the gist though.