Matias offers sneak peek at Ergo Pro mechanical keyboard for Mac, PC

Matias on Thursday announced its Ergo Pro Keyboard, the latest mechanical keyboard to arrive from the maker of the famed Tactile Pro. It's not shipping until August, though Matias is showing it off this week at CES.

Matias has distinguished itself as a maker of keyboards that use mechanical keyswitches, which provide much more crisp, precise feedback for typists than the softer scissor-style membrane keyswitches and other technology used in laptops and desktop keyboards. But up to now, all of the keyboards that Matias have made have been variations on a traditional straight QWERTY layout.

The Ergo Pro Keyboard is split into two pieces to provide a more ergonomically suitable design. Gel palm rests provide a comfortable surface to rest your hands, and the keyboard also incorporates a 3-port USB 2.0 hub media controls and dedicated Cut, Copy, Paste and Undo buttons.

The Ergo Pro Keyboard will be available in either Mac or PC trim, and will cost $200.

You pay a lot more for a mechanical keyboard than one that uses a membrane pad underneath scissor switches, but my experience has been that it's worth it. I greatly prefer the crisp, precise response I get from mechanical keyboards.

As far as Matias is concerned, they make a great product - the keyswitches they use are inspired by the ALPS-made keyswitches that were inside the ADB-powered Apple Extended Keyboard II - considered by many Mac keyboard enthusiasts, myself included, to be the best ever made. They also make thoughtful design decisions like laser-etching the keys not only with characters but also the extended characters that you get using modifier keys, sculpting the keys to be better-shaped for your fingers and more.

Having said all that, I have to admit that I haven't really had a lot of success with ergonomically designed keyboards in the past. They have a bit of a learning curve - especially if you're a touch-typist with well-developed muscle memory, it can be very frustrating to suddenly have to reorient your hands for input. But for those of us who make a living inputting data or typing words on keyboards, relearning how to use them is probably worthwhile, compared to the pain, expense and inconvenience caused by repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) like carpal tunnel syndrome and so on.

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Have you tried ergonomic keyboards or mechanical keyboards? What do you think? Is the price tag too high for something engineered like this? Post your thoughts in the comments.

Peter Cohen