Gaming companies have become obsessed with gimmicks and lost focus of the two most important features of any premium keyboard: performance & comfort. To remedy that, we set out to engineer a premium mechanical keyboard that would offer the same features & specs as other top-of-the-line keyboards, but in a versatile split form-factor.
And after 12 months of extensive research & testing with gamers, we're finally ready to build the all-new Freestyle Edge.
If you don't know us, Kinesis has been building ergonomic keyboards here in Seattle, WA for over 25 years. We're a small company dedicated to providing best-in-class products and service. You can find our loyal customers online at r/MechanicalKeyboards, Geekhack, and Deskthority, and at keyboard meet-ups around the world. This isn't our first rodeo, but it is our first time looking to Kickstarter to help us launch a new product. So please keep reading...
We’re taking our 25 years of experience and designing a full lineup of peripherals for hardcore PC gamers. Kinesis Gaming will focus on engineering devices that emphasize your comfort and control to maximize your performance and stamina. Help us change the way you game.
To learn more visit us at KinesisGaming.com.
To create the all-new Freestyle Edge we borrowed the best features from our two most popular keyboards (the Freestyle2 and Advantage2), and got lots of great input from hardcore gamers and mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. Our goal was to create a split keyboard that leveraged proven Kinesis technology and ergonomic design, and would also meet the high standards of the world's most demanding eSports athletes.
Most people know that a split keyboard is great for typing because it allows you to separate the key modules to shoulder-width and independently adjust them to suit your body type. That's true for gaming too, but the real benefit is that most games don't require the right key module at all. Which means a split keyboard can act like a gamepad and give you the freedom to customize the position of your keyboard and peripherals to maximize your comfort.
It may not be obvious at first, but comfort and performance are inextricably linked. When your muscles get tired, your reactions slow down and you make mistakes. Those split-second actions are the difference between winning and losing. The Freestyle Edge allows you to place your hands and arms in a comfortable position so you're playing at peak levels, from start to finish. No matter what games you play, your stamina will increase and you can take fewer breaks.
There is no wrong way to set up the Freestyle Edge, just find a configuration that works for you and your setup. And you can quickly shift between different typing and gaming configurations. But don't just take our word for it...
Push the key modules together for a compact "tenkeyless" (TKL) footprint which takes up less space on your desk. Remove the palm supports and get an even more compact keyboard. And since the Freestyle Edge features a traditional layout there is no adaptation period.
Conventional keyboards can leave you wanting more room, especially if you have broad shoulders. Even small improvements in comfort can have huge impacts on performance. Split the key modules to shoulder-width to reduce shoulder and forearm strain when typing. Adjust the cable to Small (10”), Medium (13”), or Large (16”) depending on your shoulder-width and stash the excess cable in the hidden compartment.
Unlike a full-size keyboard, it’s easy to rotate either key module on the Freestyle Edge to your exact specifications. Rotate for optimal key coverage or to squeeze into a tight space at a LAN party. Professional gamers have known for years that angling the keyboard keeps your wrists straight which reduces pain and fatigue, and boosts stamina.
Use the XL Split configuration to create up to 20” of prime real estate for an oversized mouse pad, joystick, steering wheel, microphone, or maybe even a snack. The right key module is still within reach for in-game commands and chat. Most people don't need a full 20 inches of separation, but it's nice to know it's there if you do.
If you don’t need the right half of the keyboard for gaming, why is it cluttering your desk and slowing you down? Slide the right key module out of the way (or off your desk altogether) and bring your mouse pad in tight for maximum control and precision in low DPI gaming.
A conventional flat keyboard puts strain on your hands and arms. Over time that strain adds up and can reduce your performance, or even knock you out of the game all together. With the optional Lift Kit, you can tent one or both key modules to provide a neutral wrist and forearm position for extended gaming sessions. This isn't some gimmick, it's just more comfortable. Note: Palm Supports are required to use the Lift Kit.
The all-new SmartSet Engine lets you fully customize your Freestyle Edge using the four onboard programming keys. There is no need to install any clunky software or special drivers on your computer. You don't even need an internet connection and you don't need to log-in to any 3rd party websites, so if our servers go down you're not stranded. The Edge is 100% Plug-and-Play on all major operating systems. And thanks to 4MB of built-in storage, all of your custom settings move with the keyboard.
A good programmable keyboard acts like an extension of your hand. Place critical key actions in intuitive, easy-to-reach locations to cut down on unnecessary movement and speed up your play. Don't reach for the key, bring the key to you.
Design and save up to 10 game-specific layouts, and load them with the touch of a button. Each layout has two fully programmable layers for double the customization. Access the embedded layer with the programmable Fn key. Hundreds of additional layouts can be saved to the 4MB v-drive. Layouts are saved as simple .txt files for easy sharing and multi-platform compatibility. You can even download and save popular typing (Dvorak, Colemak, Mac etc) or gaming layouts from KinesisGaming.com.
Record macros on-the-fly and bind them to any key combination or single key (like one of the 8 game keys in the Game Bank). Use the Global Macro Playback Speed shortcut to choose from one of 9 playback speeds (up to a blazing fast 150 actions-per-second) or temporarily disable macros altogether. Macros are saved to specific layouts so you can create custom libraries for different games and applications.
Remap any of the 95 full-size keys with the touch of a button. Don't like the default layout, then change it. Perfect for sending right-side key actions to one of the game keys for one-handed play. Each remap action is a one-way assignment (not a "swap") so you've got total control.
The SmartSet key provides one-touch control over LED backlighting, Game Mode, NKRO Mode, the Status Report, and much more. Don't like the layout you just created, use the onboard shortcut to reset all of the macros and remaps in the active layout, and start from scratch. You can even upgrade the firmware right from keyboard (screwdriver not required).
Worried about accidentally triggering an onboard shortcut? Don't be. Just enable Program Lock Mode to temporarily disable all 4 keys in the Programming Cluster.
Prefer a graphical interface for custom programming or just want to visualize your layout or tweak a macro you recorded? Use the SmartSet key to "open" the 4MB virtual storage drive on the Freestyle Edge, and then launch the SmartSet App. The App is only 1MB, so it lives on the keyboard and never gets installed on your computer. Design custom layouts, program & assign devastating macros, and even customize keyboard settings. The App also adds additional macro features not available via onboard programming like individual playback speeds, repeats, and even precise timing delays within a macro.
It's everything you need to program your keyboard, without the bloatware.
At Kinesis we've been using Cherry mechanical switches for more than 25 years because we love the performance and durability of these German-engineered switches. Some keyboard manufacturers are moving away from Cherry to "clone" switches to save money, but they aren't always passing those savings on to you, the customer. In gaming, every key stroke counts, which is why we insist on using only authentic Cherry switches.
We know everyone has his or her favorite Cherry MX switch type (we actually helped Cherry develop the Browns 20 years ago). Down the road we hope to be able to offer the Edge in the full-array of Cherry switches, but for our first manufacturing run we had to make some tough choices. After polling serious gamers, we found that Red, Brown, and Blue switches would work for the largest number of folks. So we apologize in advance to all fans of other switches types out there.
We’re even using Cherry ML mechanical switches for the 4 keys in the Programming Cluster. When we say this keyboard is 100% Cherry-mechanical, we mean it.
We like RGB lighting as much as the next guy, but does it boost your performance? Our blue LEDs illuminate the keyboard for gaming in low-light conditions, without any gimmicks. Choose from 9 brightness levels or activate Breathe mode to deliver soothing pulses of light.
Many professional gamers told us that they find backlighting distracting. That’s why we designed Pitch Black mode. Disable all the indicator LEDs so your focus is where it belongs, on the game.
Unlike other gaming keyboards, our backlighting on/off switch is fully programmable. Move it out of the way so you don't accidentally hit it, or put it somewhere more convenient for easy access. The choice is yours.
The Game Bank features 8 dedicated game keys conveniently located to the left of WASD. These game keys are programmed separately for each layout and layer, just like the rest of the keyboard. Assign your favorite macros or relocate any essential right-side keys during one-handed play, or just move the media keys to the top layer. Pretty handy, huh?
Palm Supports- Every Freestyle Edge comes with palm supports. They easily snap on/off depending on your preference. They can even be paired with our optional cushioned palm pads for maximum comfort.
100% Anti-Ghosting- Because every key switch has its own diode, you'll never get any "phantom" presses like with some cheaper keyboards.
Multimedia Controls- Control your music using F1-F6 in the embedded layer. Not convenient enough, just remap those key actions even closer. Maybe in the Game Bank?
NKRO Mode- 6-key rollover is good enough for most folks. But if you're building the ultimate split gaming keyboard, its gotta have NKRO! Simply use the onboard shortcut to toggle the keyboard into NKRO-over-USB mode. We made NKRO a separate mode to ensure you wouldn't have any issues accessing your BIOS.
1MS Response Time- The Freestyle Edge reports keystrokes 1000 times per second (aka "1000hz polling"), just like other top gaming keyboards.
4MB Onboard Memory- Each Freestyle Edge has a whopping 4MB of onboard memory to store custom layouts, macros, keyboard settings and the SmartSet App. Just don't use it to smuggle any top secret documents...
Game Mode- Temporarily disables all Windows key actions and combinations so you don't accidentally exit out of your game. Trust us, you want this.
Braided Cables- Premium braided cables feel great and are extra sturdy. When you're constantly repositioning the keyboard you need a linking cable that can stand up to a little abuse.
Each layout can be custom programmed to suit your specific gaming and typing style. Create custom game-specific or user-specific layouts that you can quickly load and unload as needed.
Each layout has 2 separate programmable layers. The Embedded "Fn" layer has the 6 standard media actions and "Insert", but otherwise its the same as the top layer and ready to be customized. Perfect for Dvorak/Colemak typing, a numeric 10-key, a left-sided arrow cluster, or whatever else you can dream up.
The embedded Fn layer is easily accessed with the Fn key in the lower left corner of the Game Bank. By default the Fn key "toggles" access to the Fn layer on and off, but you can reprogram that key to temporarily "shift" the Fn layer for quick "press-and-hold" access to embedded actions. Not only that, the Fn key can be placed anywhere on the keyboard giving you even more flexibility and control.
Don't need two layers? Just remap over the Fn key and turn the Edge into a basic, single-layer keyboard.
Backlit keyboards look amazing in the dark, but many models have low-contrast key legends that are difficult to read when the backlighting is turned off. To address that issue we're using a special, 3-step paint-and-laser process on our ABS keycaps. It's the same process used on premium laptop keyboards but most gaming keyboard manufacturers cheap out. This 3-step process ensures great light transmission when the LEDs are on, and an incredibly bright legend when the LEDs are off. Truly the best of both worlds.
Here's how it works: 1) each keycap gets a base-layer of translucent white paint, then 2) a top-coat of black paint is applied, then 3) the keycaps are laser engraved to remove just the black layer of paint to create the bright white key legend (not gray plastic). This process costs a little bit more and takes a surprising amount of know-how, but it's totally worth it.
We know lots of folks like to customize their keycap sets. Because of its split design, the Edge layout is unique, but other than the two 3.5x space bars, all of the other keycaps are standard sizes. The bottom row uses the same keycap sizes as standard 6.5x spacebar keyboards (like most Corsair and Logitech keyboards). The only two special keys are the 1.75x Ctrl and Shift keys on the right side, but you can substitute a Caps Lock key cap with a custom legend.
We're planning to use a single "row style" of keycaps (the standard "home row" sometimes called Row 2 or Row C) to create a sleeker keyboard that allows your fingers to navigate across the keys more quickly. Using an "off-the-rack" keycap set would be cheaper and easier, but we think this will really improve the look and performance of the Edge.
Plus, a single row style makes it super easy to move any of the 1x1 keys around on the board to suit your custom layouts.
- Plug-and-Play, fully programmable (no software or special drivers to install)
- O/S: Windows, Mac, Linux & Chrome
- Plate-mounted, Cherry MX mechanical switches
- Single-color blue LED backlighting (12 modes)
- 6′ braided USB cable
- 32-bit Atmel microcontroller
- 4MB onboard memory
- 2 year limited warranty
- Weight: ~2.5 lbs
- Lift Kit and Palm Pads sold separately
- SmartSet App is Windows only
Risks and challenges
Since you're backing an established US company with a 25 year track-record of designing and building premium mechanical keyboards, the only risk is time. Tooling the injected-molded keyboard enclosures, custom keycaps, and accessories (Palm Supports & Lift Kit) is already underway. Any project like this has unknowns, but the Kinesis team is well equipped to address issues that come up and keep the project on-time and on-track!
We would like nothing more than to hand build the Edge in the US like we do with our popular Advantage2 keyboard (MSRP $349-$399), but doing so would not result in a competitive price-point. Instead, we've chosen to use the Taiwanese contract manufacturer who builds our Freestyle2 keyboard in China. We have a strong working relationship with this factory and they have experience building a split keyboard which is great. Unlike some Kickstarter start-ups who are just getting to know their overseas partners, we have a 10+ year relationship with this factory and their team. These relationships should help us reduce delays and eliminate any "beginner's" mistakes.
The enclosure design is a sleeker, more stylish version of our popular Freestyle2 membrane keyboard, but functionally there have only been small tweaks to the case. We've gone through many different design iterations on the case using SLA rapid-prototyping and feel confident that the case design shown on this page is 98% of the way there. Tweaks will happen, but for the most part they will be internal changes (e.g., thickness, draft, ribs, etc) and not aesthetic design changes. We are planning to put the Kinesis Gaming logo on the left side of the enclosure as depicted in the digital renderings.
The Edge firmware is built off of the powerful SmartSet Engine and v-drive architecture first implemented in our flagship Advantage2 keyboard in 2016. Since we're building on the existing engine, most of the heavy-lifting has already been done. However, we're currently in the process of implementing a variety of new features are being added to optimize performance for gamers (e.g, NKRO mode, Game Mode, new macro tools, and more).
At campaign launch, virtually all the new features have been at least roughly implemented and are being de-bugged. All backlighting modes have been successfully implemented. Our new macro architecture delivers even faster response times compared to the Advantage2, by pre-loading macros from the active layout text file into the dynamic memory when a new layout is loaded. We plan to start beta-testing of the Edge firmware in March. We don't anticipate any problems with these features but we'll need to work quickly to implement and debug them in time for the First Edition run of keyboards for late June.
Fortunately, the v-drive and built-in bootloader allow quick and easy field updates to firmware, so you will never have to have an outdated keyboard. Once you download the small firmware update file (<150kb) from our website to the Edge's v-drive, you just rename the file and then activate the onboard shortcut...12 seconds you've got the latest and greatest firmware from Kinesis Gaming.
Keycaps & Legends
We are still finalizing the keycap style and legend artwork with the manufacturer and images on this page do not necessarily reflect the final version. None of the images shown of the prototype illustrate the single row style we favor. Note that all backlit legends will be placed at the top of the key centered on the keycap over the through-hole LED for maximum visibility.
No-Install SmartSet Programming App
We've successfully built a no-install SmartSet App for our programmable foot pedal and we have a functional beta-version of the App for Freestyle Edge (see demonstration video above). The App should be ready for download and testing in April.
The Lift Kit and Palm Supports are modeled after the accessories for our award-winning Freestyle2, so the functionality and stability are proven. Only the attachment points are changing. The Lift Kit is made by the current supplier of our V3 and VIP3 accessories for the Freestyle2 in Taiwan. The only risk is being able perfectly color match the plastic of the Lift Kit to the Edge, but since the Lift Kit will be hidden from view we don't see that being a big issue.
We've already done several rounds of FCC pre-testing and the results have been very positive. The one area we're working to improve relates to the linking cable. We may have to add an additional ferrite to the left half of the linking cable or possibly shorten the cable length slightly to pass final testing. We won't know for sure if there is a problem until we get further along in the process and can test with the final PCB, plate, and cables.