PAX West 2017: Divide and conquer with Kinesis Gaming’s Freestyle Edge split mechanical keyboard

The Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge keyboard is the first of its kind: An ergonomic split style keyboard with mechanical keys backed by a feature set specifically designed to meet the needs of PC gamers.

And now, after a successful Kickstarter campaign and sell-through of their first production run of Freestyle Edge keyboards, Kinesis Gaming is ready for round 2: Saving more PC gamers from fatigued, painful wrists and crippling Carpal Tunnel.

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Paired with an optional Lift Package, the Kinesis Freestyle Edge provides 2 additional raised configuration options. (Credit: Kinesis Gaming)

Freestyle Edge feature highlights and specifications

The most obvious highlight for the Freestyle Edge is its split and compact, ten-keyless design, which reduces desk clutter and gives you greater freedom to configure your keyboard, peripherals, and general desktop layout.

In addition, you can add an optional Lift Package if you want to angle each half of the keyboard upwards (‘tent-style’) by 5, 10, 15 degrees (or more). This adds even greater flexibility to keep your hands comfortable and hopefully fragging away fresh and pain-free for hours.

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Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge mechanical gaming keyboard at PAX West 2017. (Credit: Bryan Edge-Salois)

Freestyle Edge features and specifications

  • Blue LED backlighting
  • Cherry MX Keys (Red, Brown, Blue)
  • 8 dedicated programmable macro keys
  • 100% anti-ghosting
  • Dedicated multimedia controls
  • NK Rollover Mode
  • 1MS Response Time
  • 4MB Onboard memory with built-in GUI driver and configuration software
  • Gaming Mode
  • Braided cables
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The Kinesis Gaming Freestyle Edge has its driver and configuration software built into it. No driver installation required. (Credit: Bryan Edge-Salois)

Another interesting feature of the Freestyle Edge is that its onboard configuration software is built-into its internal 4MB flash memory, so you don’t need to install any drivers. Press a button and bring up a GUI (Graphical User Interface) where you can program macros, configure profiles, and more.

Hands-on with the Freestyle Edge at PAX West 2017

At PAX West 2017 I spent only a little time with the Freestyle Edge in a limited capacity, but I can still say I was impressed, at the very least because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gaming keyboard quite like it.

To the best of my knowledge, Kinesis Gaming is the first company to truly target gamers by delivering a keyboard that combines quality mechanical keys, an ergonomic form factor, and gaming-specific features (such as dedicated programmable macro keys and backlighting).

The Freestyle Edge feels good under the fingertips (as I would expect from Cherry MX Brown switches, which the floor model used), and I love the idea of built-in drivers so I don’t have to install them on the PC—or ALT+TAB out of a game to access them. The Kinesis Gaming rep at PAX West indicated the next production run would also be available with Cherry MX Red and Cherry MX blue switches.

Personally, I’m not sure I’d want the Lift Package to angle the keyboard but I’d be curious to try it.  Regardless, I definitely know some gamers that prefer ergonomic keyboard form factors, and because of that they have largely been unable to use (and appreciate) the superior keyboarding and gaming-oriented features that mechanical gaming keyboards provide.

The only downside to the Freestyle Edge is that it carries a hefty price tag. At PAX West 2017 it was ‘on sale’ at a hefty $175 (it’s normally $219). And the Lift Package will set you back another $24.95; the Palm rests another $12.

Kinesis is just gearing up now for another production run, so if you’re in the market for possibly the only ergonomic mechanical gaming keyboard in existence, you can pre-order one now through September 4th.

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