In my last keyboard review (here), I mentioned how enamored I had become of typing with a keyboard that featured mechanical switches under the keycaps. That one was definitely full-size, complete with the 10-key over on the right. Well, what if you don’t want the 10-key, or you simply need a more compact solution for a smaller space? Then something like the Vortexgear New 75 is worth a look.
You can tell right off the bat that the Vortexgear New 75 is smaller keyboard, being 10-keyless. It also has a more compact overall design, coming in at 75% of what a normal keyboard would take up. While it’s small, it’s not a lightweight keyboard. The base it’s set in is aluminum, and the whole keyboard has a good bit of heft to it. I put the option feet on the board (to get a little bit of angle) and the keyboard never moved while I was typing.
Size aside, one of the key things folks will be interested with on the Vortexgear New 75 are the switches. Here, they’ve got Cherry MX switches involved, which sound a touch quieter than what my ear heard from the prior review. Of course, it’s still louder than any membrane or scissor-style keyboard, but I find the additional auditory feedback to be pleasant.
As you can see in that photo above, I was able to swap out the keycaps pretty simply with an inexpensive keycap puller. This allowed for a little more colorful arrangement, as well as adjusting where the keys on the lower left were. I put on the Mac-specific ones, and the default layout just needed the keys swapped around a touch. Also worth noting, you can have the function keys (across the top) work just as they do on the Mac (so, adjusting volume and such) or you can have it so you need to press the ‘Fn’ key, at which point you need to look at the icons printed on the side of the key to adjust the right thing.
That is just the start of what you can do with the Vortexgear New 75. You can adjust what sort of keyboard layout it uses (QWERTY, Colemak, or Dvorak), as well as use four different “layers” in the keyboard that adjust the programming you’ve got in place on it (say, a work layer and a gaming layer, if you wanted). In short, you can really get into a lot with this, and though the keyboard itself is non-RGB, you do have LEDs under the space bar that help you keep track of what you’ve set things to.
That said, if you just want to use it as a compact keyboard, you don’t have to mess with any of that. If you change your mind later, things are documented on their website, so you can easily jump into it if you need to later on. I should also note the keys here on the Vortex Race 75. These have a lovely smooth feel under the fingertips, and the printing on them actually looks “set in” to the plastic, rather than being a decal applied, so they should last and be readable for the longer haul.
Interested in picking up your own Vortex Race 75? Well, while you can’t buy directly from the brand, they have a handy page on their site (found here) that show you where, in your country, you can buy the keyboard. For the US, the Vortex Race 75 comes in at $139, while it looks like the glow-show RGB version bumps things up another $20. For me, I found the Vortex Race 75 keyboard a pleasure to type on, and it’s easy swapping between OSes, and the programming capability, will appeal to a lot of folks. Or, hey, if you want a more compact mechanical option, this is a solid place to start out. vortexgear.tw
Features and Specs
|1. Cherry MX switches inside|
2. Arbitrary programming key-code and LED colors (Backlit only)
3. Build in 4 layers for programming
4. PBT DSA profile keycaps with Dye-Sublimated technology
5. Anodized CNC-machined aluminium case (Narrow bezel)
6. Detachable Micro USB cable
7. Mac and Linux compatible
– ANSI layout
– Product length: 30.8 x 2.5 x 11.7 cm
– Product weight: about 500g
– Packing dimension: 35.0 × 17.0 × 7.0 cm
– Package weight: 1.1 kg
– Detachable micro USB cable
– Assembling factory: Taiwan
– Color: Silver
– Warranty: 1 year