Those that benefit from the consolation of a cut up keyboard but additionally just like the clicky, tactile really feel of a mechanical keyboard have been caught making a alternative between the 2. There have actually been mechanical ergonomic keyboards, however most have prioritized inventive ergonomic design over custom, leading to layouts just like the X-Bows keyboard, which strikes the Ctrl and Shift keys to the middle of the keyboard, or extra unique designs, akin to tented keyboards which can be raised up within the center and nearly have you ever typing vertically. No matter ergonomic positive aspects may come from such non-traditional layouts, these don’t outweigh the frustration of attempting to unlearn ingrained touch-typing habits.
Enter the Cloud 9 C989 ErgoFS. It finds a cheerful medium between ergonomics and familiarity by combining a cut up design, a standard key format, Cherry MX mechanical key switches and programmable operate keys, together with sufficient RGB flash to compete with the best gaming keyboards. The result’s a little bit of a monster size-wise (that is the other of a compact keyboard), however the C989’s adjustable cut up, acquainted format, tactile really feel and programmability is a successful mixture in case you’re bored with having to resolve between ergonomics and typing suggestions. At $179.99, it’s on the expensive facet, however for avid gamers in search of an ergonomic resolution, it’s cash well-spent.
Cloud 9 C989 Specs
|Switches||Cherry MX Blue (reviewed), Cherry MX Crimson or Cherry MX Brown|
|Lighting||Per-key RGB, base|
|Onboard Storage||1 profile|
|Media Keys||Quantity curler, plus FN keys|
|Cables||6-foot braided USB Sort-C-to-Sort-A cable; 8-inch bridging cable|
|Further Ports||USB 2.0 Sort-A|
|Software program||C989M Utility Software program|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||22.1 x 10.1 x 2 inches|
It’s laborious to keep away from the Reese’s peanut butter cup comparability if you discover a product that’s a mix of two nice issues. On this case, the peanut butter is the acquainted (over 25 years outdated) form, a parroting of the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, ergonomic keyboard’s general form, format and key cut up. The chocolate is a high-end mechanical gaming keyboard options, from which the C989 borrows ideas like Cherry MX switches, RGB lighting, additional programmable operate keys, a quantity wheel and the power to create profiles. Similar to the peanut butter cup, the mixture is best than the sum of its components, providing snug hand positions for these used to ergonomic designs, in addition to the tactile suggestions and gaming options of fanatic mechanical keyboards.
The important thing format and cut up principally matches the traditional Microsoft design, besides the Fn key sits within the spot the place you sometimes discover the Home windows key. However you possibly can swap the position of the 2 keys utilizing an optionally available firmware replace and simply swap the keycaps as properly. I did this immediately as I’m used to shortcuts, like Home windows and G, to open the Recreation Bar. You’ll see the swapped configuration within the accompanying pictures.
The C989 provides its personal additional touches. Most importantly, you possibly can cut up the 2 halves of the keyboard aside, permitting for extra hand separation and even inserting your best gaming mouse between them. An 8-inch cable connects the 2 halves, and if you need much more separation, a 21-inch tether cable is accessible for an extra $15.99. (Notice, whereas the tether cable makes use of USB-C connectors, it’s wired in a different way, so you possibly can’t use an ordinary USB-C cable to attach the halves.) Whenever you push the halves collectively, magnets hold them from slipping aside.
There are 10 customized keys alongside the left fringe of the keyboard, which you’ll set to launch applications, enter a number of keypresses and extra. This provides additional width, and also you’ll want simply over 22 inches of area for the keyboard even when it’s not cut up and extra in case you pull the halves aside. Moreover, at 2 inches in top general and much more on the management wheel, it’s taller than common. If you happen to’re planning to make use of the C989 on a keyboard tray, you’ll wish to measure the obtainable area. For comparability to an ordinary full-sized gaming keyboard that additionally features a financial institution of macro keys, the Corsair K100 RGB, which has 5 macro keys, is eighteen.5 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches.
The C989 additionally features a four-function good management wheel that sits unobtrusively within the backside middle under the cut up spacebar. By default, it features as a quantity wheel, however you possibly can press it along with the Fn key to toggle performance between quantity and backlight brightness adjustment, scroll wheel, or software switcher. Every operate is indicated by a singular coloration, however you possibly can’t customise the colour of the wheel. There are not any devoted media management keys, however you possibly can press F1-F5 along with the Fn key to handle audio playback and you may as well program frequent media management features on any of the macro financial institution’s keys.
In the back of the keyboard is a USB-A passthrough port that I used with a wired gaming mouse. The keyboard connects by way of an included normal USB-A-to-C cable, and, not like most keyboards we’ve examined with USB passthrough these days, doesn’t require an additional USB connector to make use of the extra port. Meaning you gained’t lose any USB ports in your PC when utilizing the C989 — a rarity amongst wired keyboards. Cloud 9 recommends utilizing a USB 3.x port to make sure that the keyboard will get sufficient energy for the RGB lights and the USB passthrough. I attempted the keyboard with a USB 2.0 port and had no points, however the firm warns you may expertise disconnects as a consequence of energy draw on USB 2.0.
Although the keyboard is all-plastic, it’s strong and fairly weighty at 4 kilos. Regardless of the dearth of padding, the included wrist relaxation is snug, however these looking for a tenting angle apart from the default seven-degree slope in direction of the highest of the keyboard may be annoyed by the dearth of pop-out legs or different changes on the C989.
The C989’s ABS plastic keycaps have totally programmable RGB backlighting, and the legends are crisp when lit. Nevertheless, there’s little distinction between the important thing and labels when the backlighting is off, making characters very tough to see in all however the brightest lighting. Except you’re a seasoned touch-typist, you’ll wish to go away RGB enabled.
On the pure bling entrance, there’s additionally an RGB strip alongside either side of the keyboard. You’ll be able to toggle it between seven strong colours, two pulsing rainbows or disable it shortly by hitting FN and the spacebar. Oddly, it’s solely adjustable through the use of the important thing command and never with software program.
The Cloud 9 C989 makes use of tried-and-true Cherry MX switches. Our evaluate mannequin boasted clicky MX Blue switches, which actuate at 2.2 mm with 60 grams of pressure and provide a complete 4 mm of journey. They’re rated at over 50 million actuations. The C989 can also be obtainable with quiet-but-tactile MX Brown switches or and quiet, linear MX Red switches. Each have the identical journey specs as Blues however actuate at 55 grams and 45 grams, respectively and are rated at over 100 million actuations every.
I opted for Blue switches as a result of they’re my most popular swap for writing, as I get each tactile and audible suggestions with each keypress. If gaming is your high precedence, MX Crimson switches reply extra shortly (<1 ms versus <5 ms for Blue) and have a linear really feel that may probably be extra snug throughout gaming.
Between the suggestions of the clicky MX Blues and the acquainted ergonomic cut up, I discovered I used to be simply in a position to kind precisely at 70 phrases per minute, one thing I can not often handle on non-mechanical designs. With a non-mechanical keyboard, the dearth of tactile and audible suggestions can result in occasional missed keypresses. That’s not a difficulty right here.
One other enchancment versus single-piece mechanical keyboards is you can regulate each the width and the angle of every of the 2 sections. This may not enhance your typing efficiency however can assist you discover the optimum place to keep away from wrist discomfort throughout lengthy writing periods.
Although the keys have held up properly throughout the three months I’ve been utilizing the C989, the single-layer ABS plastic design appears extra prone to visibly put on after prolonged use than double-shot designs more and more frequent on gaming keyboards.
As talked about, I opted for the C989 with MX Blue switches, which I don’t discover supreme for gaming (bear in mind, you possibly can go for Crimson or Brown too). Nonetheless the keyboard was responsive sufficient for gameplay in much less twitch-sensitive titles, like Watch Canines: Legion, Murderer’s Creed: Odyssey, and Microsoft Flight Simulator. In Name of Responsibility: Warzone, I managed effective with my ‘mainstream’ talent stage. Even in comparison with Cherry MX Crimson switches, gaming keyboards are transferring onto even shorter actuation factors and twin programming, like what’s obtainable with the Razer Huntsman V2’s analog mechanical switches. So whereas I used to be effective with the swap choices on the C989, extra aggressive avid gamers might want extra.
Along with programming the left-side keys with macros, you may as well reprogram any key on the keyboard and set RGB colours on a per-key foundation. I used to be ready to make use of the macros to good impact in Microsoft Flight Simulator, establishing a number of keypresses on a single key for numerous parts of flight, akin to activating a number of autopilot settings, in addition to configuring flaps, gear and spoilers for touchdown.
Gaming Mode, managed by the included free software program, allows you to individually disable the Home windows key, Alt-Tab and Alt-F4 to keep away from interrupting or inadvertently leaving a recreation in case you fumble a key sequence.
The C989M Utility Software program allows you to handle lighting, customise key features and construct macros and allow Gaming Mode. On the RGB entrance, you possibly can swap between 15 preconfigured results or create a single customized, per-key coloration format for every saved profile.
Every secret is programmable, and you may assign a keypress, mouse operate, macro, combo key, multimedia playback management or Home windows hotkey. You may as well program keys to launch a selected program or open a web site. The macro editor information sequences of keypresses, and allows you to tweak recordings by modifying the delays between key up/down sequences and rearranging key sequences.
Sadly, the C989 shops solely a single profile onboard, however it can save you a number of profiles within the software program and use that to swap between them.
A number of operations are managed by particular keypresses and never the software program. Fn-key mixtures to toggle off the sidelight RGB, flip the keyboard lighting off and swap between management wheel features.
The Cloud 9 C989 is a well-built, customizable keyboard that provides a wonderful stability between ergonomics, a well-known format, suggestions and customizability. As somebody who previously used a Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 for writing to keep away from wrist ache and swapped to a Corsair K95 whereas gaming, the C989 provides one of the best of each worlds in a single product, with a greater typing expertise than both.
It’s a good selection as a primary ergonomic keyboard, as properly; The one uncommon facet of the format is the cut up within the center, which is generally noticeable in case your touch-typing reflexes have you ever hitting a key with a “non-regulation” finger. (In my case, I found I used to be imagined to be hitting “b” with my left hand, not my proper.) The adjustable cut up allows you to cut back the angle of every half from the complete ergonomic place when you’re getting used to the completely different really feel from a straight keyboard. All the options are quirky in some respect, whereas the C989 does an excellent job hanging stability between options.
The most important downsides are its massive dimension, and the necessity to do a one-time swap of the positions of the Home windows and Fn keys in case you demand extra conventional placements. However if in case you have room to unfold it out, the C989 provides most flexibility for locating essentially the most snug wrist positions potential. It’s not excellent: Doubleshot keycaps wouldn’t solely be extra sturdy, however would additionally make the important thing legends extra seen with the RGB off. And we’d prefer to see a tilt adjustment choice.
If you happen to’re in search of one thing mechanical and ergonomic however not as huge because the C989, the X-Bows keyboard is tenkeyless and far smaller, however its uncommon format with keys like Ctrl and Shift within the middle of the keyboard is prone to frustrate touch-typists. The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard is one other separable cut up keyboard choice with a extra conventional format than the X-Bows, however it begins at $250, has a minimalist collection of keys and lacks backlighting.
You may as well give the C989 a no-risk strive, due to Cloud 9’s 45-day trial. If you happen to purchase it straight from the manufacturer and resolve to return it, Cloud 9 pays the return delivery prices. It’s the best choice we’ve discovered in case you’re in search of a mechanical ergonomic choice that doesn’t require adapting to a brand new option to kind.