EditorKeys might look like a standard keyboard with some slightly colourful keys, but in essence, it's one of the best training aids for almost any creative application. Take a close look at the keys and you'll see all the shortcuts marked out, 150 for the Final Cut Pro X version that we looked at. At first, you may pass it off as a gimmick, but in use, the keyboard comes into its own and teaches you the inner workings of the application you thought you already knew. It's great for beginners as well, obviously.
- Application-specific shortcuts
- Wired for fast response
- Slightly plastic feel
What is the EditorKeys Final Cut Pro X keyboard?
Isn’t a keyboard just a keyboard? Apparently not.
EditorKey sets to change the way we use our keyboards, with application-specific models designed to increase productivity.
We’ve seen several reimaginings of the user input device (UID); such as Wacom, Palette Gear and Loopedeck. These all take their lead from professional equipment, but here the EditorKeys is based directly on a standard keyboard.
This may sound simplistic, but it makes sense, colour coded keys and marked shortcuts alongside the standard keyboard characters.
This way, you can find the features and functions you want quickly for the application, as well as use the keyboard as a standard keyboard for typing and stuff. This also means that you’re not cluttering up your desk with UID’s, leaving plenty of space for empty mugs and glasses.
EditorKeys Keyboards are application-specific, and for this review, I’ve looked at the one designed for Final Cut Pro X. However, check out the website and you’ll see versions for; Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Photoshop and many other creative applications.
All EditorKeys keyboards are available in UK or US layout and offer the full keyboard spread; including the basic alphabetical keyboard, cursor section and number pad on the right.
What differentiates one EditorKey keyboard from another are the small icons and text on the keys that relate to the intended application.
For instance, on the Final Cut Pro X version, you have A (Select Tool), Z (Zoom Tool), B (Blade) you get how it works, and these particular keys are all bright yellow. Other toolset groups feature different colours and are organised in the way that you would use them in the workflow.
If you’re new to the application this is handy, as rather than looking through the manual online trying to find out keyboard shortcuts or having to click into the interface to change tools, you now have the shortcuts written out in front of you. Rather like having the notes of a piano keyboard marked on the keys.
While the benefits for beginners are obvious, experts will also find these markings useful; there’s always more to learn.
Take a look at the keys, and you’ll see common functions such as snap, alongside shortcuts you might not have realised existed, such as Q (Connect), [ (Left Edge), ] (Right Edge).
In total there are 150 different shortcuts highlighted on the keys.
When it comes to mechanical design, the key style is much like the older style MacBook Pro. A little more height from keys than you get with a modern Apple Magic Keyboard and the key presses are soft but firm.
On the underside of the keyboard are two small legs that can be used to raise the back for extra comfort. To ensure a fast response, the keyboard uses a wired connection.
This means EditorKeys can be used on both PC and Mac systems, although the latest Mac will require a USB 3.1 to USB Type-C adapter.
As you’d expect from any decent keyboard, the keys are all backlit with three levels of brightness.
As the keyboard is, in essence, just a standard keyboard, you can add and change your shortcuts to suit your workflow.
Keyboard quality is not something that you often, unless you get a bad one. Checking over the keyboard and it all feels pretty solid, slightly plasticy, but no more than most. You’ll only notice the more plastic feel if you’re using one an Apple Magic Keyboards, to be honest.
Over the years I have found the Apple Magic keyboard perfect for typing but, the low profile keys make it a little bit too easy to accidentally touch the wrong shortcut when trying to edit audio or video quickly.
When it comes to video, I tend to revert to ancient cherry keyboard it’s been with me for years, and I know how it works, it has an excellent well-built feel.
Aesthetically the keyboard also looks the part, and quality-wise it feels the part.
EditorKeys is, as I’ve said, essentially a keyboard with a few additional markings that make it easy to find the shortcuts for your chosen application.
The big question is, are the EditorKey Keyboards really worth the money if they are just a marked-up version of a standard keyboard?
Only an in-depth test will really put the keyboard through its paces, and it’s not long into the test that the answer is apparent. EditorKeys not only seem like a good idea, in practice it turns out they are.
Starting with the day-to-day work and keyboard works in the same way as any other QWERTY keyboard. Typing out emails and writing a few editorial pieces, and I have to say I prefer the typing feeling of the Apple Magic keyboard.
However, the main points of edit the keys is obviously to be used as a creative tool. This model is laid out for Final Cut Pro X, and the benefits for editing are instantly apparent.
The EditorKey’s key height and feel is just right for editing;
there’s decent resistance in the keypress and miss-hits of the keys are far less common than I’ve found when using the Apple design.
The key height and pressure felt excellent and responsive with no delay, an issue that I have had in the past with wireless keyboards when editing.
But, the primary advantage has to be the labelling on the keys and the grouping of the colours. After a day finding additional shortcuts that you knew existed but could never be bothered to look up, it’s incredible how much time it saves and how much you learn.
Also, the hint of colour means that finding some of the short cuts you use while organising, laying out and editing your footage are far easier to find. The colours help guide you as you look at the screen, even if that colour is out of the corner of your eye.
After using the EditorKeys Final Cut Pro X version as a replacement for my usual keyboard, I can safely say I won’t be going back. This keyboard brings several benefits over the Apple and Cherry Keyboards.
Firstly the shortcut highlights help educate me as an experienced user. There are features and functions that I had forgotten about or use so rarely that usually, I have to search through menus to find them.
The colour grouping helps locate similar tools quickly; it’s surprising how well it works. The key height and press resistance while it feels a little squidgy at first, remains comfortable even after a marathon editing session.
Finally, the wired connection means all keystrokes are instant, there’s no lag or dropping of the connection, and that has saved countless hours of annoyance over using an Apple Magic Keyboard for editing.
Having used Final Cut Pro for well over 20 years and Pro X for the last 9, I was pretty sure that I knew most the shortcuts. However, with the shortcuts marked out before me, I quickly realised that there many that I had never used, and others I had just forgotten about. Now with the shortcuts marked out for me they were back to being used regularly.
Those features can be something as simple as [ (Left Edge), ] (Right Edge), just having them in front of you marked out brings them back into everyday use.
You even find yourself scanning the keys to see what else you can learn to improve your editing skills and speed.
The big question is you’re bound to have a keyboard already, so is it worth buying this dedicated keyboard for another £100 / $100?
The answer, for me at least, is yes. EditorKeys does help to improve your workflow, it’s also an educational tool, and I was surprised by just how much having those shortcuts marked on those keys taught me.
On late-night editing, the colour coding of those toolsets does help, especially with the frustration when a standard tool you frequently use suddenly disappears from your memory. Checking the keypad and the icons and colours quickly help when concentration and memory lapses.
If you edit video, I would highly recommend the EditorKeys keyboard. It just makes sense, it feels right for editing, and the marked shortcuts help beginners and experienced users alike.
For me, the most significant advantage of the EditorKeys Final Cut Pro X keyboard was the way it highlighted new tools and features, all of which helped to streamline and speed up my editing.