The Moonlander Zip Kit – a Mini-Review
The Zip Kit is one of those oddly specific products a company makes where you see it for the first time and you think “wow, they must have made this specifically for me, and me alone.”
When I first got my Moonlander keyboard, one of the first things I did was rip out the top row of key caps and switches that formed the number row. I was coming from a Planck keyboard and the extra row made the keyboard a little bit too crowded for me. Shortly after, I found I needed to cover the empty holes with masking tape to keep myself from being blinded by the LED pattern. I thought to myself how it’d be really handy to design and 3D print myself some covers for these that snap right into the holes in the plate, but laziness (and a lack of a 3D printer, or the know-how to design such a thing) got the better of me.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, and ZSA announced an array of accessories for customizing the Moonlander called the Zip Kit.
It includes a whopping 42 covers, 18 additional keycaps with specific symbols, and two wing stubs.
I had most recently been using my Moonlander with the wings and the number row back in place (thanks to some typewriter-style keycaps that made it easy for my fingers to not accidentally reach for the top row; more in my Moonlander retrospective), but this presented a really cool opportunity to use my Moonlander in the way that I really think of it: like a split Planck that has some extra accessory keys on the outer reaches.
And here’s how it looks now:
I really like ZSA’s vision for the Moonlander as a highly modular keyboard. Too many keys? No problem, you can remove the ones you don’t need. Is your thumb too strong and you keep accidentally hitting a particular key? Take its switch out and replace it with a stiffer switch. Key caps not to your liking? No worries; the keyboard uses MX-style switches, meaning you have an entire world of custom keycaps available to you. Want to tent it? Want to use inverse tilt? Want to use tripod-style mounting gear? All perfectly valid options.
And not only is the keyboard modular in hardware, it’s just as flexible in software, because its firmware is fully programmable. The keyboard can have whatever layout you want it to have, and it can do things regular keyboards just can’t do, like have keys that do one thing when you tap them, and do another thing when you hold them.
Moonlanders ship with a stock default keyboard layout, but I would actually be surprised if more than, say, 10% of Moonlander owners were using theirs with a completely unmodified configuration. And that’s absolutely fine! This is a keyboard that radically wants to be made yours. It’s not just being offered in a couple different colors to pay lip service to choice; every Moonlander is just for its owner. And that’s beautiful and refreshing.
And the best part here is that all the customizations on offer are fully supported by ZSA and won’t void your warranty. It’s perfect for pro users who need to demand a lot of their tools, but don’t want to futz around with a soldering iron. And as your needs change and evolve, the Moonlander is ready to grow and change with you.
I’m hoping to see some more evolution on the firmware front over time. For instance, these caps are translucent which is beautiful, but it also means my keyboard now has 10 extra RGB LED lights. I’d love to be able to use those lights as arbitrary status lights that my computer can control by sending signals to the keyboard.
It’s also exciting to see ZSA keep new accessories that make my Moonlander better. I can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with next.