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Ergohaven Planeta review

The Planeta is a clean and simple monoblock split keyboard by Ergohaven – with piezo speaker.

KBD.news
Published August 23, 2023
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Ergohaven's Evgeny was kind enough to send me a Planeta, the unibody brother of the split K:02. (Thanks!) I got it free, had to pay only VAT and customs fee on arrival. While I do my best to write an honest review, getting a free keyboard may result in all kinds of subconscious bias – both positive and negative in my experience –, so take this into account when reading the write-up below.

Other than that, this is produced in Russia, so before a purchase you may consider if this would be in line with your actual view of the world.

TLDR;

The Planeta is a great board, especially if you, like me, have a penchant for monoblock splits. I've been using it this whole week, and I really enjoyed every minute of typing away on it. As expected, the board works right out of the box, it's easy to customize (VIAL, hotswap, MX), and as a seasoned ergo split user my adaptation period was practically zero. (Expect a learning curve if this is your first ergo board though.) Given the 3D printed case I was pleasantly surprised by the sound and feel – just like my muggle colleagues. Speaking of sound: the piezo speaker is a funny little gimmick.

Price and availability

The Planeta is a pretty affordable ergo keyboard. The kit costs $70, and the pre-built barebone version, without switches and caps, is available for $120. You can add switches for +$21 (pre-lubed Gateron Red/Brown/Yellow G Pros), and a full board with all the bells and whistles, that means a set of really nice blank XDA caps (+$21), will set you back about $162.

First impressions

The Planeta comes in a simple white cardboard box, no fancy design, just an Ergohaven sticker. And that's totally fine. It protects the keyboard well, and that's what counts.

Pic:

I got the full keyboard with 45g Gateron Red G Pro switches and a blank white keycap set which works really well with the white case.

Concept

The name and design were inspired by long-distance intergalactic flights through thousands of planets… – Ergohaven.

Build quality

The case is 3D printed, but the board has a decent mass, its very stable.

Sure, you can see the layers if you look closely, but the white case is much better in this sense. Compared to my black K:02, the guys at Ergohaven have improved a lot.

Pic:

And it seems they've developed a sense for detail: the white case conceals a white PCB – with white hotswap sockets!

The case is snapped together of multiple parts so there are some gaps here and there. But while the design elements of the switch plate indeed give the Planeta a certain intergalactic or extraterrestrial vibe, I'm not sure they will not collect some dust or dirt on the long run.

Pic:

By the way, the case has a certain kind of texture. On my inquiry Evgeny told me that the texture on the bottom turned out this way because of powder coated PEI surface, "on top we are using ironing feature".

Setting it up

The pre-built Planeta is ready to rock right out of the box. If you type in English and use QWERTY, then all you have to do is to plug it in. (It came with an USB-C to USB-C cable, plus a tiny USB-C to USB-A adapter.)

I use a custom keymap so as a first step I headed to vial.rocks to recreate my good old layout.

Pic: Forgot to take a screenshot before messing up the layout…

Forgot to take a screenshot before messing up the layout…

VIAL is awesome and straightforward to use, I didn't have any difficulties while setting up my layout. Actually, it's so easy and convenient to play with the keymap that I ended up with swapping some alphas just for fun and to test an alternative arrangement.

Layout

60 keys, full number row, 6x4 halves with 5 thumb keys and 1 inner key per half. It's more than enough, I prefer using numbers on a layer, but can use the top row for my national accented characters.

I've used keyboards, especially more crowded low-pro Choc-spaced ones, where an unused top row interfered with my typing and was in the way all the time. This is not the case here, the keycap profile provides sufficiently large gaps so it's unlikely that you would hit adjacent keys accidentally.

Keycaps

The blank set is optional, as of writing this it isn't available anyway, but let me cover it shortly.

Normally I'm not a big fan of XDAish profiles because of the uniformity and the sharp edges (not ideal for thumb keys), but it works really well with this keyboard. Not just visually but also functionally. Obviously, blank caps are for you only if you are a touch typer (or masochist), but if you can live without legends, I'm sure you'll love these caps.

Pic:

The only thing I'll change is: sourcing two homing keys. (Nothing indicates them on this set so I simply get lost every now and then.)

The surface is finely textured, and it's perfect for summer use. Does this make any sense? My theory is that those smooth, shiny, glossy caps are better in a colder environment, while more texture is better for the heat – because of, well, sweat. Coming from guitar playing, I can't help but compare the caps to guitar picks where pieces of plastic without any texture may be slippery while headbanging on a stage in the sultry or in the spotlights.

Actually, this is not just a strange theory I guess. I made a lot of typing races this week, amidst a long heatwave with soaring temperatures, and typing on a different board with shinier caps became a disaster. Changing to the Planeta and its textured caps, my typing issues were solved immediately.

High stakes

The Planeta comes with two 15 mm tenting legs. I mean sloping legs. Obviously, adjustable tenting is not an option on a unibody split of this kind. Nevertheless, the legs are part of the universal tenting system which is, well, only universal in the Ergohaven product family (e.g. the new M4CR0Pad).

It's simple and straightforward: you put the legs into holes on the bottom of the case, resulting in either negative or positive slope.

Pic:

What should I say? I liked the magnetic snapping of the K:02, but this one is just as stable and does its job perfectly.

Speaker

The piezo speaker was turned on by default. It's really funny to experience it for the first time and makes the Planeta sound like an alien ship or R2D2. I'd say the speaker is the hallmark of the Planeta, it makes it stand out from the crowd even when at the end of the initial honeymoon period you will most likely turn this feature off for good, at least that's what I did.

In fact, it may have a practical function: auditory feedback. Just like with clicky switches, but in this case you can turn on and off the click.

One major benefit of the clickiness of clicky switches is that you don't necessarily have to bottom out to make sure keypresses are registered. However, some tactility is required to do so I suppose. I for one couldn't really reproduce this typing method with these light linear switches.

Portability

The form factor of the Planeta is probably the perfect compromise of size and functionality. Easy to carry around while retaining a decent number of keys to please a very broad user base.

Pic: CFX-spaced 40% vs 60% unibody vs 65%

CFX-spaced 40% vs 60% unibody vs 65%

Obviously, the pinnacle of portability is something like a bancouver40 (about the size of your phone), but then you compromise on usability and ergonomics. A compact monoblock like the Planeta may be the sweet spot for many, providing the best of both worlds.

Specs

  • Compact ergo unibody.
  • Monoblock split design for natural wrist position.
  • Hotswap sockets: MX-compatible.
  • Built-in piezo speaker: optional layer and keypress indicator.
  • Dual-core Arm Cortex M0+ processor, with 2mb of memory
  • Tenting stands (15 mm length) – negative or positive slope.
  • Type-C connection, cable included.
  • Powered by QMK firmware. Vial-ready.
  • 3 years full warranty and service support.

Resources

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Published on Wed 23rd Aug 2023. Featured in KBD #132.


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