Keychron K2 – better living through superior keyboards

Keychron K2 – better living through superior keyboards

Keychron K2 is a small ten-keyless mechanical keyboard that can be ordered with your choice of mechanical key switch. It’s Bluetooth, but capable of being used while corded, comes in layouts for Mac and Windows, and is amazingly practical.

On the one hand, it’s a keyboard. Why would anyone care about a keyboard. They’re on every computer, they’re standard.

On the other hand, you have the whole awareness of Apple’s butterfly keyboard failings (well-known even if only a small percentage failed), and criticisms of it from an RSI standpoint by people like movie director Taiki Waititi.

This is the thing: You interact with the computer a few ways. The display, they mouse, and the keyboard. The mouse knows just a few words, click, double-click, right-click and gestures. The keyboard knows all the words.

There are tons of fans of mechanical keyboards. There are whole subdivisions of the Internet dedicated to them, to making them to choosing the right key switch on various criteria (noise, feel, type of spring, type of switch that closes the contact), and layout of the keys themselves.

Keychron K2 answers a very specific set of needs: It’s wireless. It’s got arrow keys in the inverted T arrangement. It hasn’t got a number pad so it doesn’t take up huge amounts of space. And, it’s backlit.

A word should be said about the backlight. On the model reviewed, the backlight has a ridiculous number of modes. Currently I have it set as I write this so that the key press lights up the key pressed and then the lights quickly emanate out across the row. It’s silly, but I like it. The sound of the keys and the lights make it feel like I’m running MovieOS. “This is UNIX, I know this!”

The firmware is updatable, and Keychron provides regular updates. The firmware process could be better; it required bypassing macOS’s gatekeeper function to run the firmware updater when I ran it on Mojave, and the updater application was very simple, with just a start button to begin the process and OK at the end. It didn’t say what firmware the keyboard had on it, or do anything to confirm what version I was updating it to.

The key caps are primarily gray. The ESC key is a bright orange, which is nice. The bulk of the character keys are light gray, with the modifier keys and keys at the edges (tab, capslock, pg up/dn, etc) are cast in darker gray.

Beyond working with iOS, macOS, Android and Windows, it has all the Mac keys I’d want. (Windows modifier keys with a key cap puller were in the box.) There’s even a screenshot button that works on Mac in addition to the Cmd-Shift-3/4/5 shortcuts that many Mac users know.

The enclosure for the Keychron K2 is plastic, and lightweight. There is a model with an aluminum enclosure if you so desire it.

It charges with a provided USB-C to USB-A cable, so it’s ready for the USB-C future, while being compatible with your older USB-A computers for charging and corded use.

The unit reviewed here used the red gateron keyswitches which were reputed to be quieter and require a little less force to press. It still made plenty of noise, which is fine, considering that and feel are part of the experience.

There have been suggestions that the sound of two or more mechanical keyboards clicking can increase your productivity, because it indicates that there’s work going on and you need to keep up. This keyboard would certainly fill that need, although you may need to check before you annoy your open office plan workmates.

Ergonomically, the traditional qwerty key layout is not fantastic. But one of the things I found is that using it on my lap while typing on the couch meant that my wrists are more straight, rather than resting on a wrist rest, and just getting my wrists up and more straight in line with my forearms has improved matters.

The last thing that requires a mention here is the price. The RBG LED version in plastic enclosure as reviewed here costs $79 USD.

That’s it. Maybe that sounds like a lot when you could buy some no-name garbage keyboard for 12 bucks on amazon. But that wouldn’t be wireless. There’s a cheap one for 20 that is, but doesn’t have mechanical switches.

The cheapest Bluetooth mechanical keyboard I can find is close to 50 bucks. So then you have to ask why you’d spend 50 on something that doesn’t come with Mac keys and a key puller, doesn’t have the multimedia keys appropriate for Mac (expose, Launchpad, screen brightness, laid out just like your Mac’s keyboard), and doesn’t use USB-C to recharge? Pay the $79. Get USB-C, get firmware updates, get good Mac and iOS support. Get the Keychron K2 at Keychron.com.

This review was typed entirely on the Keychron K2.

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