Why You Should Switch to an Ortholinear Keyboard

What is an Ortholinear Keyboard and How Does it Differ from a Traditional Keyboard?

Ortholinear keyboards don’t have all the standard keys of a regular keyboard. The biggest difference is that traditional keyboards are laid out in a staggered fashion, while an ortholinear keyboard has all the keys in a straight row. This means that the user’s hands never have to leave the home row in order to type.

These ortho keyboards are also customizable, meaning that they can be tailored to your needs and preferences. For this reason, many ortholinear keyboards are the smaller 40% keyboard size. They utilize a key layer system where you hold down a layer key to access different key strokes depending what layer you are on. For example, the first layer would serve as your alpha keys while the second layer might be custom shortcuts for Photoshop.

The grid layout makes the keyboard faster to type on because you don't have to move your hands as much while scrolling through symbols. This also takes a bit of remembering the different shortcuts and has a higher learning curve.

How to Choose the Right Ortho Keyboard for You

A keyboard is the most important tool in your arsenal, especially when you are typing for long periods of time. So it's important to choose a keyboard that will not only satisfy your needs but also do so in a cost effective manner. Fortunately, ortho keyboards are relatively inexpensive as compared to many of the other customizable keyboards out there.

Choosing the right keyboard is a personal decision. There are a number of considerations that factor in, such as aesthetics, ergonomics, and cost. Below are some factors to consider when making your decision.:

  • What type of layout do you require? Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Dvorak, Qwerty?
  • Do you need multimedia keys or shortcuts?
  • What is your budget for this purchase?
  • Are you traveling with the keyboard?

Take a look at all the different types of keyboards we have reviewed and researched here: Ortholinear Keyboards

Planck & Preonic

The most popular options are the OLKB Planck and Preonic keyboards which use customizable hot-swappable switches. They are also available online. You can order them right away with Drop or Amazon, so you don't have to wait for them to come back in stock. Assembly for this product should be easy, as the majority of the parts come pre-assembled. All you'll need is a screwdriver.

The Planck and Preonic offer a compact keyboard that frees up space on your desk, and allows you to work more efficiently when set up with your own macros. The grid layout and universal 1u size of each keycap on the Preonic and Planck keyboards allows you to map a key or command without worrying about hierarchy.

For example, you can change the key of the default "Shift" or "Enter" and it's not a giant key compared to everything else. It's the same size as every other key and the experience is the same. Read our article on how to configure your Planck or Preonic to see how easy it is!

What are the disadvantages of ortholinear keyboards?

These keyboards are highly customizable as compared to traditional ones, and it takes a lot of time for people to get used to them. The grid-like pattern takes some time to get used to compared to the traditional keyboard staggered key layout. Of course, an ortholinear keyboard isn’t for everyone. However, if you like to customize your keyboard, the time investment might be worth it for you.


Ortholinear keyboards are often overlooked because they don't fit the standard layout of most keyboards. But what makes them so great is that they can be customized to fit your needs and be as compact as possible with no wasted space. This also means ortholinear keyboards are lightweight and easy to transport, making them the ideal solution for anyone who spends a lot of time traveling.

The ortholinear keyboard is a great option for people who want a more efficient way to type or who are looking for a portable keyboard that they can customize.


The latest version of the Planck keyboard supports hot swappable switches, LEDs, a small speaker and even rotary encoders. There are several offerings for baseplates: EOTW (easy on the wallet), hi-pro and low-pro. These keyboards usually come in as a kit with some light assembly required.

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The Preonic keyboard is the Planck's big brother with an extra row of keys for those really missing the number row or want more keys to customize. The newest version of the Preonic is almost identical the Planck in terms of features.

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