Once upon a time, keyboards used durable, long-lasting mechanical switches rather than the cheap rubber membranes you see today. Mechanical keyboards have come back into fashion, with many hobbyist models costing hundreds of dollars. If you’re going to pay that much for a keyboard, though, it’d better last you a lifetime.
That’s why ZSA Technology Labs built their latest ErgoDox EZ keyboard to be more user-serviceable—and after going through a rigorous repairability assessment by our teardown team, we’re happy to say they succeeded, earning a whopping 10 out of 10 repairability score. (We rated the non-backlit version, but there are many different configurations available at the ErgoDox EZ website.)
Mechanical keyboards are already built for longevity compared to their rubber-domed brethren: Cherry’s mechanical MX key switches are rated for 20 to 50 million keypresses, versus 1 to 5 million of most membrane switches. But mechanical switches still use moving parts, and can fail—especially if you spill coffee on your keyboard. So ZSA took the open source ErgoDox keyboard design and took it a few steps further, allowing you to remove all of its switches individually, no soldering required, so you can replace any that stop working. You can also pop in a new type of switch across the entire keyboard, if you want a different “feel” to your keys.
You can take the entire keyboard apart using only a Phillips screwdriver, though the included keycap puller also makes things a bit easier. (One screw is hidden under a sticker, but it’s only a minor obfuscation—ErgoDox notes the location of the screw on their website.) There are no adhesives or clips, and while its mini-USB port is soldered onto the PCB, it’s not so high-use we’d expect it to break–though USB-C would have been nicer to see in 2019.
Of course, hot-swappable mechanical keyboards are not unique to the ErgoDox. What makes the ErgoDox EZ unique is its ergonomic design: a two-piece split keyboard with adjustable legs on either side, so you can get just the right angle—even negative tilt, which is more ideal for your wrists. Our friends at Wirecutter even recommend it as their upgrade pick for ergonomic keyboards.
The folks at ZSA tell us they have exciting plans for the future, but for now, if you need an ergonomic keyboard that’ll last you years and years, with easily replaceable components, the ErgoDox EZ has earned that coveted 10 out of 10 repairability score. You can see the full repairability assessment here.