Why are your keyboards not wireless?

It's 2023. Why is ZSA still making keyboards with cables?

a cartoon keyswitch questioning why wires are necessary

Anybody looking at the recent gadgets online knows it: The future is wireless. Some companies are even toying with the idea of making a "portless" phone — entirely smooth rectangles that charge and communicate entirely wirelessly.

This, of course, is a simplification. It's how marketers want us to think. A desk certainly looks sleeker when it has no cables cluttering it up. Great for those product photos on the site!

a cartoon keyswitch saying 'so shiny, so minimal'

But we know this isn't magic. It's radios and batteries. Those marketers don't love talking about the batteries, because they conveniently degrade over time. Not too fast, of course — just fast enough to make you want a new gadget after a few years. (Some batteries also combust dramatically, but this is an edge case.)

Don't get me wrong: I'm not anti-wireless or anti-batteries. When you have a device that's meant to be truly portable and operate on its own (such as a phone or a camera), of course it needs a battery.

a cartoon keyswitch sad that it's battery has died

But what's nice about making keyboards is that they don't have to contain a battery that then decays over time. We are still supporting the original ErgoDox EZ we started with in 2015, and I get emails from customers who still use and love that board. Not because they can't afford a new one — but because it works today just as well as it did when they first got it.

That's what I want to be making. I want to make tools that last, not stuff that's built to degrade over time. Gadgets you can open up with a screwdriver and tinker with. Gear that's powered by open-source firmware that's not even controlled by my company, so you know it'll be around even if we no longer are.

a cartoon keyswitch happy with it's cable

Cables are a part of that vision. Yes, they can get tangled up. But they are simple. They work. They're fast and responsive. They're easy to troubleshoot and figure out. And if a cable breaks, it's easy to swap it out with another one — and they're industry standard, so you don't have to get your new cable from us.

The way I see it, cables fall under "appropriate technology" for keyboards. Just because lots of companies and marketers are pushing for wireless doesn't mean the benefits for users outweigh the costs over time.

a cabled tied in the shape of a heart
Erez, CEO of zsa.io
Erez Zukerman
ZSA Technology Lab
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