September 30, 2022

Since I covered Dygma Raise last year, it’s been my favorite piece of productivity hardware. The programmable split keyboard has been my constant companion, I’ve never been away from my desk and been able to read thousands of words day in and day out.

I’ve reviewed dozens of consoles since I got Raise and none of them have managed to lure me away. I’m starting to doubt it Not possible to topping.

But then Dygma went and raised the bar. Well, the keyboard.

Enter Dygma Defy

Dygma Defy was in the last couple of days of crowdfunding on Kickstarter, and at press time, it was looking for nearly $900,000 in funding. It’s a vertical, hot swappable, split keyboard with available tents, RGB glow, and a wireless interface.

It shares much of the same DNA as Dygma Raise but, as Dygma CEO Luis Seville said when I spoke to him about the project, “The challenge is Raise’s evolution.”

That’s a big claim when the Dygma Raise actually offers an incredible ergonomic feature. Once split, you can bring each half of the keyboard to where your hands would naturally rest on the desk, instead of bending forward to bring your hands together. It allows for better posture and reduced fatigue.

So how, then, is the challenge better?

Relaxing Dygma Journey

The Seville Dygma Defy is the culmination of a “comfortable corporate journey”.

“Our first keyboard was actually vertical, but we decided not to bring it to market because it was considered too niche and too exotic. So we focused on improving our regular keyboards by splitting them up and it was a hit. Dygma Defy is the culmination of that journey by combining Vertical keys (which we’re still getting a lot of requests for) and a split keyboard.”

In addition to the vertical switches, the Dygma Defy has an all-new bottom system that allows room for Bluetooth and camping right at the base without a bulky addition. It also features a new thumb assembly design that you can fully customize with Bazecore software, magnetic wrist rests, and all-new keycaps.

Let’s break it all down.

wireless

The big draw for the Dygma Defy is the wireless unit. Add $50, enable RF direct wireless connection or Bluetooth interchangeable. With the Dygma Defy in Bluetooth mode, you can switch between up to three devices (no need to type on cramped phone and tablet keyboards!).

Because of the new keycaps, which allow the same amount of light to be transmitted with less energy, the batteries will last longer. And when you go to recharge it via USB-C (thank you, Dygma) you can use the keyboard in wired mode. The batteries are also replaceable so you don’t have to jam the entire keyboard if it eventually dies.

I’m excited about Dygma’s switch to wireless. Especially with the low latency RF option. While the Dygma Raise braided cord is nice, I like that my setup is from zero to no visible wires.

tents

Tenting allows you to make the Dygma keyboard more comfortable by tilting the keyboard to match the natural tilt of your hands, rather than forcing your hands to lie flat on the desktop.

With the Raise, this was achieved with an additional tent kit that was clipped to the bottom of the keyboard. It slightly increased the profile and raised the keyboard up to 40 degrees.

Dygma integrates tent arms (add $50, see a pattern?) into the base and can raise the keyboard up to 60 degrees. You can also tilt the keyboard in reverse to make it more comfortable to use while standing.

key layout

This is the thing I’m most skeptical of. Seville spoke of “common sense” in that the vertical switches make your fingers move less, which reduces pressure. And he may be right. But as a touch typist for over 30 years, I have yet to find a vertical keyboard with which I can achieve the same typing speed as a standard layout. Maybe with practice?

However, with funding heading towards the million dollar mark, I’m clearly in the minority when it comes to favoring master planning.

The other part of the new key layout is the 8-key thumb assembly. Don’t worry, you don’t have to use all 8, you’ll be expected to use the updated Bazecor configuration software (which will run when the Defy charges) to map which of the switches best fits your hand for the functions you need it. Then maybe use the extra keys for the occasional macro function.

Bottom color and color options

Going from ergonomics to aesthetics, the final $50 add-on for the Dygma Defy is a lot less. It’s a shame to see the bottom glow switch to optional, as the standard bottom glow on the Raise is implemented really well. RGBW per-key backlighting is still standard.

You can also choose from several different color options for the Dygma Defy: black, silver, onyx (which has a silver base and black keys/wrist rests) and ying-yang (black base with gray keys and wrist rests).

You’ll also be able to choose from a variety of switches from Cherry, Kailh, and Gateron. Like its predecessor, the Defy keys are hot swappable, so you don’t have to take apart the keyboard (or buy a whole new one) if you just want new ones. It’s a great level of customization usually reserved for keyboard enthusiasts who build their own decks.

I also really appreciate that the wrist rests are now magnetic rather than silicone. While mine has largely stayed in place over the past year, the right pad has started to lose its stickiness and tend to drift throughout the day. The magnet will hold everything nicely in place.

How much and when?

Dygma will use the same supply chain it has honed throughout the pandemic to hopefully reach its ambitious delivery schedule in the fourth quarter of this year.

As far as the price goes, it’s hard to come by. Dygma Defy costs around $294 (depending on conversion rates, the campaign currency is Euros). That’s before you add a wireless, tent, or bottom glow. Each of these will cost you an extra $50 All. That means a completely cheated Dygma Defy game is about $452! That’s a lot of money for the keyboard and $100 more than the Dygma Raise available now.

However, the Dygma Raise is easily the best investment I’ve made in my home office setup in years. It really is the most comfortable keyboard I have used. I fully expect the Dygma Defy to be better than its predecessor (assuming I can get used to vertical writing).

If you’re interested, there’s still time to support Kickstarter before it ends on 6/30. Just head to Kickstarter page To start.

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