While there are plenty of mechanical keyboards out there, 95% of them are built for gamers and were not made to be portable. If you are looking for a slim, portable and wireless mechanical keyboard, the choices are limited. But Keychron built a mechanical keyboard that is slim, can connect wirelessly and is full of features. It first started out as a Kickstarter project where it raised over $300K, and now the product is ready for shipping. Let’s take a look at how the Keychron Wireless mechanical keyboard performs.
First Impression: Slim and Beautiful
The first time you take this keyboard out of its wrapping, you will be impressed by how slim it is. Only 18mm thick, it is probably one of the slimmest wireless mechanical keyboards. The unit I have is the smaller 87-key keyboard (without the number pad), though a 104-key keyboard is available for order too.
The keyboard connects wirelessly via Bluetooth, so there is no separate adapter required. It can also connect via cable. There are two switches at the top-left corner of the keyboard: one is for switching between cable/off/Bluetooth, while the other alternates between Windows/Android and iOS/Mac.
The charging (and cable) port is a USB-C port and is located at the top-center of the keyboard. Looking at how USB-C has gained popularity over the years, it is a good decision for Keychron to use a USB-C port instead of the ancient micro USB port.
The keyboard layout remains largely the same except for a few keys that were replaced. For example, the right “Ctrl” was removed and replaced with the Backlight key, while the Scroll lock and Pause button (at the top-right corner, you probably seldom use them) was replaced with Dictation and Voice Assistant (Cortana or Siri) buttons. A set of multimedia keys shares the same button set as the FN keys. There are two variants of the keyboard: one for Mac and the other for Windows. The only difference between the two variants is the Option and Command keys in the place of Alt and Win keys.
The specifications of the keyboard are as follows:
- Color: Black / Space grey
- Number of Keys: 87 and 104 keys
- Switches: Fraly low-profile Blue switches
- Number of Multimedia Keys: 15
- Main Body Material: Aircraft-grade aluminium
- Keycap Material: PC and ABS
- Backlit Types: 18
- Backlit: Adjustable four-level RGB backlit
- System: Windows/Android/Mac/iOS
- Battery: 2000mAh Rechargeable li-polymer battery
- BT Working Time (Single LED):Up to fifteen hours (lab test result may be different than actual use)
- BT Working Time (RGB): Up to ten hours (lab test result may be different than actual use)
- Connection: Bluetooth and Type-C cable
- Bluetooth version: 3.0
There are some aspects of the keyboard that I like and some that I don’t. The following is what I found after using it extensively for two weeks.
Bluetooth connection works fine, except for Linux
If you opt for the wireless connection and are a Linux user, then you will be disappointed, as the Bluetooth connection doesn’t work well with Linux. While you will have no difficulty pairing it with your Linux computer, the keymap is not registered (meaning nothing shows up when you type on it). And for the few keys that work, they are wrongly mapped. For example, the “u” button is mapped to 4, “I” mapped to 6, etc. In short, the wireless mode doesn’t work in Linux. Connecting via cable will work fine, but that will render the wireless connection useless and defies the purpose of why you are getting the keyboard in the first place.
For Windows/macOS/Android/iOS, the Bluetooth connection works flawlessly.
The Keychron mechanical keyboard supports three simultaneous Bluetooth connections, which means you can connect it to your PC and phone at the same time and switch between the devices with a quick keyboard shortcut FN + 1, FN + 2 or FN + 3.
There are eighteen backlit options for the keyboard, so you will never run out of options for the flashy backlight. The backlight is controlled by the “Lightbulb” key (in place of the right Ctrl button). A simple tap will rotate through the various backlight profiles. It can be a constant disturbing flickering of rainbow lights or a static green or blue backlight. If you want to save battery, you can disable it as well. In addition, you can also adjust the backlight brightness level by pressing the F5 or F6 button.
Typing on the keyboard gives a mixed experience. While the low-profile blue switch makes it easy to press each key, the flushed surface makes it difficult to type fast without error. Adding to that, the almost flat surface is not ergonomic, and your palms have to rest on the table with all fingers curled up to be able to type properly. (I have big hands and long fingers, so this could be an issue that happens to me only.) There is no distinct feel between each key, and it prohibits quick touch typing.
- Slim and compact, great for small desktop
- Good wireless support for Windows/Mac/Android/iOS
- Dedicated button for Cortana/Siri
- USB-C support
- Plenty of backlit options
- Bad (or zero) Bluetooth support for Linux
- Flushed surface is not ergonomic and makes it hard to type fast
When it comes to the design, the Keychron mechanical keyboard is gorgeous. It also comes with many well-thought out features like Bluetooth connection, USB-C port, multiple backlit options, etc. As for the typing experience, I don’t really like it because I have big hands and long fingers, and the almost flat surface didn’t do well for me. You will probably be fine if you have smaller hands and shorter fingers.
With regards to things I hope it can improve: Bluetooth support for Linux, and more spacing and distinction to each key to make it easier to type. Other than that, it is a great keyboard. The Keychron wireless mechanical keyboard is available for $84 – $94 at its website.