Geekhack/Deskthority user 0.01 (pronounced “zero point zero one), a former Varmilo designer and the man behind the much loved VA68M and the VB87M, has stepped out on his own and has come forward with his first solo design: the Z70. Instead of simply rehashing an existing layout, 0.01 really dug in and came up with a new layout that better utilizes the 65% footprint.
What I personally love about this project is that the keyboard has a real philosophy behind the layout it offers. It may look chaotic at first, but I can assure you there is order to the madness. I’ve seen more than a few keyboards come out with layouts that just don’t make any real sense to me, and this is not one of them. Through my correspondence with 0.01 he has revealed his thought process behind creating the layout of the Z70 to me.
The first step was using the ever popular 65% layout as a starting point, as it has become a hugely popular layout within the enthusiast community over the past year. The Macbook (and Apple’s current keyboard layout) was another very influential inspiration for the layout. To top it all off, 0.01 recognized the popularity of the HHKB among enthusiasts, and made sure to incorporate the HHKB stock layout into the z70 as well.
The end result? A fully programmable keyboard that not only supports the standard Apple layout, but also allows for the standard HHKB layout to be fully utilized, with the added functionality of dedicated arrow keys.
Now, onto the design element that really makes the keyboard stand out in the crowd of 65% keyboards: the split spacebar. 0.01 noted that the 6u spacebar was a waste of space, and that smaller format keyboards should put more emphasis on better utilizing the space they do have. I for one absolutely love this approach, and couldn’t agree more. Having a split spacebar opens up so many possibilities. Some of my favorite uses for the second spacebar are as a FN key, shift key, or backspace key, though the possibilities are truly endless here.
I know many of you are probably worried about sourcing replacement caps for the keyboard (mainly the 2x 3u “space” keys), but 0.01 has also informed me that aftermarket sets are already in the works.
Digging into the finer details of the keyboard, it will offer a low profile angled CNC aluminum case (with a 3% angle), frosty white backlighting, a host of switch options from both Cherry and Gateron, and the latest USB-C connection. Even small details like the screws being on the bottom instead of the top really highlight the effort that went into creating this keyboard. At the current time I’m not sure how the keyboard will be programmed but will keep everyone posted as I find more information out about that.
I for one am extremely excited to see how this keyboard turns out. I’ve never been a huge 65% fan, mainly because I don’t have any issue with using arrow keys in a FN layer and would rather save the space, but being able to access that FN layer easier and quicker with the split spacebar is definitely more than enough to keep me interested in this project. Hopefully the keyboard quality is as good as it looks in the pictures, and programming it will be easy enough that even casual users will be able to quickly customize their layouts. Expect a follow up as soon as I get my hands on a Z70 of my own!