As I was discussing in my Why I Use Keychron For My Mac article, I had ordered a v3. Over time the v1 has not quite held up but I still love the keyboard.
One major annoyance in the v1 was the sleep timeout. Whether it was plugged in or not, it would go to sleep after 10 minutes of idle. There was no way to disable this. Now in the v3 I can. This was important because the bluetooth reconnect sometimes takes a rather long time.
The other issue I was seeing was phantom keys getting pressed or pressing keys and them not producing any results. It was believed this was a problem with the blue mechanical switches. The v3 switched to yellow switches. Only time will tell.
First – Here is a picture of the K1v3!
A common compliant of the shipping process is that the boxes get fairly damaged. While the keyboards themselves do not usually get damaged, sometimes they do. My box had minimal exterior damage but the keyboard was just fine.
The box was a little difficult to open due to the way the tape was applied and my lack of knowledge at how the flap was setup. I worked my way through it. I could have just cut right through it but wanted to maintain the integrity of the box.
What Is In The Box?
The box defaults with Mac key caps on the keyboard but comes with Windows caps and a cap puller tool. A USB-C to USB-A cable which is most likely the most popular requirement for this. Some people are griping its not a USB-C to USB-C but there are many legacy machines out not on USB-C yet. People with USB-C only machines should be stocking up on USB-C cables. A printed user guide is also included but you can always download that online.
Side By Side
Here are some side by side shots.
Look and Feel
Overall, the look is pretty similar. One issue of the v1 was the placement of the “light” button to control the backlight. It has been relocated and it out of the way of accidental touch which was a problem.
The switches do feel slightly different but they are reactive and responsive. I still get the “joy” out of typing on them that I did with the v1 and like out of a mechanical keyboard.
The keyboard seems great so far. I’m happy to support Keychron with my purchases. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next as they are starting to branch out to other accessories as well.
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.
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.