I type a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I’m a software engineer during the day, and then I come home, do more programming and then write articles like this one you’re reading now. It’s important to me to have a nice keyboard that I can enjoy typing on and that’s comfortable for long periods of time. I used to have a Corsair Strafe RGB Pro with Cherry MX Silent switches, and that served me well for a long time. However, I started hearing more and more horror stories about people like me who end up with carpal tunnel from typing all day, and decided that I didn’t particularly want that, so I began looking around at various ergonomic options.
I saw some… interesting keyboards, and some quite cool ones, but none of them stood out to me as much as the Ergodox EZ. It was incredibly well-designed and looked like it could fit into anyone’s workflow, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to the high price tag at the time.
It wasn’t until a few months later when I’d started spending a lot more of my days typing that I decided to go all in on the ergo lifestyle and bought a few new things like a new chair and a new pillow. I went back to look at the Ergodox EZ, having come to terms with the fact that it would be worth the price, and lo and behold, ZSA, the company behind the keyboard, had released something new! It was called the Moonlander (presumably because it would look right at home on the S.S. Enterprise) and it was everything the Ergodox was and more. I watched a few reviews, contemplated my switches and then took the plunge.
I ended up going for the white Moonlander with printed keys and Cherry MX Brown switches. Basic, I know, but I wanted to go with something I knew I’d be comfortable with – the form factor of the board is enough of a departure from the norm for me for now.
It took a little while to reach me in the UK, and even longer for me to get used to typing on it and figure out the layout I wanted (every key is programmable!), but I’ve been using it as my daily driver for a few months now, and thought I’d share my thoughts on it. TL; DR: I love the board and find it so much more comfortable to use than any other keyboard I’ve ever had. You can buy one here.
Build and Feel
I cannot overstate how solid this keyboard feels. Even though it’s split in two, the Moonlander feels really sturdy. The wrist rests on each half fold around to the back of the board and use magnets to hold themselves there for travelling (the Moonlander comes with a really nifty travelling case, but I’ll get onto that a bit more later). They’re also reasonably comfortable to use, though some people would argue that your wrists shouldn’t be resting on anything while you’re typing.
I also like that just about everything on the Moonlander is adjustable to how you want it. Not only is every key reprogrammable like I mentioned earlier, but the little metal stand arms that come with it can be moved to either side of each half, adjusted how you want to tilt the board for better ergonomics and tightened so they stay there permanently.
Of course, I can’t write this section without mentioning the thumb modules on each side of the board. These each have four keys. The big red keys are called the ‘launch keys’, and the other three large keys are the ‘piano keys’. While the launch keys are supposed to be pressed with your index fingers, I love the fact that my thumb can now be used for more when typing than just pressing space. This opens up a lot of room for customisation that means you don’t have to move your hands as much. For example, by default the piano keys are bound to space, enter, backspace and a few other things, so you don’t have to move your hands around too much.
Of course, the thumb modules can also be tilted up or down as you choose depending on how large your hands are.
It’s also worth mentioning that the keycaps and key switches are fully hot swappable, so you can use whatever design and layout you like.
ZSA also provide enough information to make use of the mounting points that are on the underside of each module, so you can build accessories for your Moonlander if you so desire, or you can buy a tripod kit to attach your keyboard to your chair!
The default layout that the Moonlander comes with certainly won’t be for everyone, and is definitely more geared towards US layouts than UK ones. That’s understandable, of course, but it took me some time to get things how I wanted them. Editing your layout is all done through your browser, so no luck if you don’t have an internet connection, but it does mean you can edit it from just about any computer.
However, if you actually want your layouts to be applied to your board, you have to flash the firmware using software called Wally. In my opinion, since I’m having to download Wally anyway, I’d rather just be able to do everything in one place, as swapping back and forth can get quite annoying.
One benefit of having Wally to flash the firmware, however, is that you can plug your Moonlander into anyone else’s computer and it’ll keep all your customisations quite happily.
Because the keyboard doesn’t have as many keys as most, you’ll have to use the concept of ‘layers’ to get all the functionality you want. This is normally fine, and I’ve gotten used to it, but I do sometimes forget which symbols are where on my symbols layer, since I can’t just glance at the keyboard for reference.
I do like that you can have different behaviours for pressing and holding keys, and the macros came in useful when I wanted a key for the degree sign (°), which can usually only be accessed via an Alt code.
The Moonlander also comes with the option of having it play 8-bit sounds when you’re typing, and even has a ‘Music mode’ that will disable input, allowing you to just jam out at your desk. For me, this was cool for about 5 minutes until it became incredibly annoying and got resigned to the realm of gimmick, but it might be more to your taste.
The Moonlander is super comfortable to use. The keys feel solid and the typing experience is nice. It has a nice sound to it too. While it did take me some time to get used to, and some time to find my layout, now that I’ve got it down I’m super happy with how it performs and how pleasant it is to type on.
The only issues I really have with it are when I try to game using it. On the website, ZSA insist that you can use just the left half of the keyboard (true), which makes it gaming friendly. This is nice because it gives you more space for your mouse, but I’ve found that the layout of specific keys just doesn’t make for a nice gaming experience.
Of course, this is something I could solve by setting up a new layer specifically for gaming, but I still feel that I’d get annoyed at times, especially if I has to switch back and forth to use the chat functionality in the game (I play stuff online, and don’t often make use of voice chat).
This has me switching back and forth to my Strafe sometimes, which I don’t find as comfortable anymore. I suppose that really does say something about the Moonlander though – once you switch, you realise just how much better it is.
I love this thing. I don’t think I could ever go back. As I mentioned earlier, it comes with a travelling case which is really useful because I take my Moonlander to work with me. I’d love to have a second one so I could leave it there (taking it back and forth can be a bit of a hassle, especially if I forget it in either direction), but I’m not sure I can totally justify the cost for a second board just for that.
The Moonlander is quite expensive compared to a lot of keyboards, but boy is it worth it. I’m very grateful to the team at ZSA for designing this thing. They’re really onto a winner, and I wish them the best of luck.
If you liked this review, why not take a look at my thoughts on the Google Pixel 6 Pro?
I look forwards to seeing you again! 😁