Gear Of The 12 months 2023: Dygma Defy Is A Daring Experiment That Pays Off

Gear Of The Year 2023: Dygma Defy Is A Bold Experiment That Pays Off


I got here into 2023 with excessive hopes for one particular aspect of my every day tech stack: the keyboard.

I’ve evaluated dozens of keyboards in my profession and have seen all of it: from the kitschy to the needlessly sophisticated to the “revolutionary in identify solely.” However there’s been one keyboard that is damaged from the pack to be my favourite: the Dygma Elevate.

I have been utilizing a cut up ergonomic keyboard for 2 years now and will not ever return to utilizing a conventional deck. It is extra snug to make use of and does not create any of the higher again and shoulder hunch you get when utilizing an everyday keyboard. Plus, Dygma has created a deep customization setting, so you possibly can create virtually no matter structure you want.

So when Dygma introduced the Defy, I received excited. Not solely is that this keyboard utterly wi-fi, it has in-built tenting (so that you could tilt the keyboard), and…columnar keys.

That final half gave me pause. Whereas there are lots of ergonomic causes the columnar structure is superior to conventional keyboards, contact typists who’ve internalized a long time of muscle reminiscence may discover themselves consistently hitting the fallacious keys at first.

So how did I am going from cautiously optimistic to declaring the Dygma Defy my Gear of the 12 months? Let’s have a look.

What Is It?

As I discussed above, Dygma Defy is a cut up configuration, wi-fi, columnar keyboard with built-in LEDs and tenting {hardware}. It is totally customizable through the app, so you possibly can create layers, macros, tremendous keys (the place holding a key longer provides you additional capabilities), and extra. You may join through RF dongle, USB-C, or Bluetooth (although programming is not out there over the past).

It is a full-sized keyboard, minus the numpad (which you’ll simply toss onto one other layer to entry while you want it). You do not even have to make use of each halves of the keyboard without delay. Should you’re gaming, create a brand new layer, map your motion keys to the left or proper half, then set the opposite half of the keyboard apart.

There’s a big cluster of distinctive thumb keys on each halves. They arrive pre-programmed, however you possibly can remap them to no matter capabilities you want. In contrast to the Elevate, you possibly can’t shove the halves of the Defy collectively to create a “regular” keyboard. You may set them proper subsequent to one another, however they’re going to at all times be cut up.

Setting It Up

You have received three choices when organising your Dygma Defy: Bluetooth, direct USB-C connection, and RF dongle (which have to be plugged right into a USB-C port). Bluetooth is handy however you will not have the ability to hook up with Dygma’s Bazecore app for personalisation (which is essential). So you will need to plug in your keyboard while you first get it.

The Bazecore app provides you entry to lighting choices as nicely the power to remap keys, create new layers, save macros, and program keys to have a number of capabilities primarily based on variety of presses or how lengthy you maintain the important thing. It is daunting. However in the event you concentrate on small enhancements one after the other, somewhat than attempting to do it , you’ll have the ability to beat the educational curve.

You may need to remap the thumb cluster first. Dygma has house keys on both facet of the keyboard (they’re those with the “dwelling key” pips) however you do not have to maintain your house keys there (it is simply the place most individuals’s thumbs relaxation). However past the house key, there’s the enter key, numerous perform keys, and extra. I truly remapped a giant chunk of the thumb cluster on the proper half to my arrow keys as a substitute of keyboard capabilities as a result of I take advantage of them consistently whereas enhancing.

With that out of the way in which, you can begin messing with the tenting choices. Dygma provides you all kinds of choices, from simply barely angled to just about perpendicular at 60-degrees. It’s also possible to reverse tilt the keyboard in order that it pitches ahead, if that is extra snug.

So far as inserting the keyboard halves, they are often as far aside or as shut collectively as you want, since there is no cable to deal with. You do not even have to make use of each halves. Or you possibly can simply push them far sufficient aside to accommodate your cat.

Oh, and if you wish to change out the switches, the Defy, similar to the Elevate earlier than it, is totally hot-swappable. It even comes with a handy pull software.

How Does It Kind?

So you possibly can create your good typing oasis…however how does it truly work as a keyboard? Lots of evaluation has gone into columnar keyboards, the place the keys are in straight rows as a substitute of a staggered QWERTY sample, and located it tremendously reduces the quantity of stress in your palms when typing. As an alternative of stretching to hit keys, each key {that a} finger would normally press is correct in line. However coming from 30+ years of typing on “regular” keyboards, I wasn’t positive I may make the swap.

Dropping pace is a terrifying factor for somebody who lives on-line. It is as much as you to find out if the distinctive structure is one thing that you may overcome. For me through the first two weeks the c, v, and b keys had been nonetheless tough to hit correctly 100% of the time. However now, a month into utilizing the Defy, I am typing simply as rapidly as I used to be earlier than I switched, it is when I’ve to make use of a typical keyboard that my typing charge suffers.

And the ergonomic advantages far outweigh having to retrain your self. Past my palms and wrists (which have not had any points since I began utilizing a cut up keyboard typically and really feel even higher with the Defy) my posture is healthier as a result of I can stand at my desk and let my arms fall naturally, inserting the keyboard halves the place my palms relaxation. Plus, with the in-built tenting, I haven’t got to push my palms flat, I can allow them to relaxation at a barely tilted angle like they naturally would.

Modern {Hardware}, First Gen Issues

Being first gen {hardware} comes with its personal pitfalls, nonetheless. I bumped into points when first pairing the keyboard the place I initially misplaced the power to pair through Bluetooth. A firmware replace mounted that downside.

Presently, I am having points with battery reporting and charging, making it tough to know the way a lot battery I’ve left, typically solely in a position to cost one facet at a time. Nevertheless, Dygma is conscious and is engaged on a firmware replace that can hopefully tackle this.

Then there’s the truth that the thumb cluster keycaps are proprietary. For these of you that like to alter out your keycaps, you will have to come back to grips with the fact that the thumb cluster will at all times look the identical. And so they aren’t dangerous keycaps…however the black may be very vulnerable to shininess. In fact, the switches below these keycaps are commonplace, so you possibly can at all times swap them with regular keys. They simply will not nest collectively as nicely.

All of that stated, none of those are deal-breakers, simply minor blips in an in any other case improbable implementation of Dygma’s imaginative and prescient.

So…Gear of the 12 months?

Even with the battery problem (which is kind of annoying) Dygma Defy remains to be my favourite piece of {hardware} for 2023. It represents a wise evolution of the unique Dygma keyboard and made me a convert to columnar keyboards (others had tried previous to this). It is also solidly-built keyboard and can completely rework the way in which you employ keyboards for the higher.

In fact, you are going to pay dearly for that transformation. With tenting, underglow, and wi-fi, the Dygma Defy prices $539. Relying on the function and swap configuration you select, you may get it for as little as $329. It is a steep sum however contemplating that Dygma is doing all of the manufacturing and improvement on their very own, it is what I would count on for such a bespoke piece of {hardware}.

You may get the Dygma Defy on their web site for $539 for a totally kitted-out keyboard. Should you do not want tenting, underglow, or wi-fi, you could find choices for rather less. If not one of the out there to ship configurations are what you’re on the lookout for, you possibly can customise and pre-order your personal (to ship in April of 2024).


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