I was not paid by Keychron or anyone else to write this. This is purely my experience of this keyboard. I would not even call this a technical review. I really like the product and wanted to share.
A while back, my trusty Apple Bluetooth keyboard failed. Ok, not failed. I poured something on it accidentally. It was quickly replaced with a new Apple keyboard. Unfortunately it used the new butterfly keyboard and felt like typing on chalk. A kickstarter for a mechanical keyboard that had Mac layout support came across one of my social feeds. The options were fairly limited for something with Mac compatible layout. This happened circa November 2018.
It was founded by some keyboard enthusiasts with industry knowledge that decided to start their own company. That is definitely something I can buy into and help support. At the time, it was called Keytron. I believe due to some naming issues they then rebranded as Keychron.
What is a Mechanical Keyboard?
A mechanical keyboard uses mechanical switches. Most of the early keyboards were mechanical. We are talking 1980’s timeframe for those under 25. In the early 1990’s, rubber dome keyboards were fairly common. Very likely due to how cheaply they could be manufactured. If you have ever had to open up a keyboard that does not provide some “clickity clackity”, you would find a rubber mat under the keys.
Here is a good article I came across with images – https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/define_mechanical_keyboard.php
Tom’s hardware also has a great article on optical switches which some of these keyboards are or give you the option of. Optical switches can and do have mechanical parts to them.
Wouldn’t mechanical keyboards be noisy? Yes they can be depending on the type of mechanical switch. For many people that is part of the nostalgia of it. I learned to type on an Apple IIe and electric typewriter. I was very familiar with mechanical keys and knew what I was in for. It is a common complaint though of someone that has not used one before. If you use it at work, your coworkers are likely to complain too.
The initial keyboard they offered (model K1) had a few features. Some of those features were 87 key versus 104 key and white backlight versus RGB. I opted for the 87 key RGB. Since it was a kickstarter project, I did not have high expectations of ordering and it showing up next week. I would check up on it every few weeks. It finally shipped early January.
Here are some pictures of how my K1 has faired over the past year. As pictured, it is a bit worn and some of the paint is chipping away but I cannot complain. This was the first iteration of the first keyboard they shipped. Since then, this has been dubbed v1. They are now on K1 v3 which I am happily awaiting shipment of.
It is bluetooth capable and has an internal battery, despite the wire depicted below,. I use the USB-C purely for power to my USB power source.
The K1 was a fairly successful release. With that success, Keychron then released the K2 with quite a few mechanical switch options. I do not claim to know all of the various switches and their strengths and weaknesses. The K2 was designed to be a higher profile option. The low profile switches of the K1 were in high demand and difficult to come by.
The K2 is the current production keyboard actively produced on a regular basis. Due to this, the K1 gets manufactured in batches at this point at various times.
With the K1, it only offered one switch. For the K1 v1 it was the blue switch. For the K2 they decided to give options in addition to the blue switches. I imagine this was in part due to the noise with blue.
It is an 84 key only keyboard.
The K4 is a compact keyboard with many of the same switch options as the K2. It is a compact 104 key keyboard.
It wouldn’t be fair to completely ignore this. With it being a new startup there have been some frustrated customers. Particularly around communication and shipping. Sometimes it takes weeks to get updates on the status of orders. In some countries there are unexpected customs taxes that can be rather high.
Not to discount those concerns, I completely understand them. Having started a few businesses, I also understand being a startup and the craziness that goes along with that. In today’s world we are so used to buying off Amazon, having it show up fairly immediately with tracking all along the way.
With all of that said, I do see huge improvements in that area. I recently purchased my K1 v3 online. A mere 4 days later, it shipped and I should have it in a few more days.
UPDATE: It has shown up, check it out here – Unboxing My Keychron K1 v3