I'll be perfectly honest, I never really understood the hype behind mechanical keyboards, and my first few attempts at using one were far from successful. For years, I've used my trusted Logitech K750 Solar keyboard, which I then replaced with Apple's Magic Keyboard, both of which I loved. Between the two I tried a few mechanical options which I couldn't settle into, until I met the Keychron K1, and instantly loved it. Previously, I had tried out the standard red and blue switches, but always felt that one was too loud and one was too soft, so this time around I went with the Gateron Low Profile Brown switches, and I think it's quite the perfect combination in what I want out of a keyboard.
Keychron K1: A Quick Glance
Want to know about the this mechanical keyboard without having to read everything below? Here are some of the pros and cons we've found during our testing.
- Low profile design
- Full row of media keys
- Three different switch options
- Swappable keys
- USB-C port & Bluetooth
- Some RGB patterns are distracting
- Some keys are too close
Keychron K1: What I like
When the keyboard first arrived and I unboxed it, I was unsure how much of the experience I would like, but once it was on my desk that thought process quickly changed. Let's start with the box and what's in it. Keychron includes a braided USB-C cable so you can connect the keyboard to your computer if you want (or you can just use it to charge it and keep using it Bluetooth), along with a few replacement key caps and a key cap remover. The caps are super easy to change, and the included extras allow you to replace the Mac-specific options with general ones if you are a Windows user, and there is an alternative option for the key that changes the backlight.
The fact that you can use the keyboard wired or via Bluetooth means you can use it on a wider variety of devices, which is great. I've been using mine wired, because I don't need it to be wireless and this helps offer the most stable connection, which is important in a keyboard. I got the RGB Aluminum option, which has 18 different variants for RGB backlighting and comes in at just 18mm thick. It's made from high quality materials, and the keyboard I am typing on uses the Gateron Low Profile Brown switches, but Keychron also offers the keyboard with Blue or Red switches depending on your preference.
Most of the time I use it as a wired keyboard, but the ability to unplug it and use it as a Bluetooth keyboard has been a life saver for me. Sometimes I need that USB-C cable for charging something, and with this I don't have to fuss around to find another one. I can disconnect the cable, connect it in the Bluetooth menu, and off I go. It has a 2000mAh battery inside and Keychron says that should last for up to 190 hours of use per charge, which is nearly 24 days at 8 hours of use per day.
I've been a Mac user for a long time, and that means I've become used to the media keys and other things that are exclusive to Mac-specific keyboards. Keychron offers a full media key row that mimics Apple's so there was no relearning or trying to figure out what was what, my fingers just felt at home on the keyboard.
The keycaps are low-profile as well and have a curve to them. This makes each one feel like it's own key, so you can easily find your place on the keyboard and ensure that you are pressing the correct one each time. The caps are removable, like mentioned above, and you can buy new ones if you wanted, but I haven't felt a need to replace what came with it, except I did change out the grey light key for the included orange one, which was cooler!
Keychron K1: What I don't like
As I previously mentioned, there is a LOT to like about this keyboard, and I think most of what I don't like is very subjective and comes down to personal preference. Small things, like the spacing between the backspace key and the INS key are a bit closer than I would like to see, and that means that I am constantly hitting that as well during the day. Again, something minor, but it does mean that when I go to type sometimes that I am overwriting other text because of it.
The keyboard doesn't have any "feet" on the back of it, so there is no way to change the angle of it. The keyboard lays relatively flat, and my previous ones sat at more of an angle. After using this for a while I got more used to it, but I do wish there was away to raise the back of it, even if just a little bit, for a more comfortable typing experience.
While there are 18 different RGB backlight modes for the keyboard, I found that many (most) of them were quite distracting during regular use. Several of the options pulsed, had moving lights across the keyboard, would change colors based on which key was pressed, etc. I don't look at my keyboard much during the day, like most people, but I did often see the distracting reflections in the bezel of my monitor or from the shine coming off the mic sitting on my desk. I've ended up using just the stationary color option now, which still offers several color choices to match your personal preference.
Keychron K1: Should you buy one?
If you are on the fence about mechanical keyboards, or happen to be looking to a great compact, slim option I would highly recommend the K1 to anyone looking. As previously mentioned, it comes in both an 87-key and 104-key configuration, though the 104-key variant is often sold out and much harder to find. Typing on it feels very natural, and it didn't take much for me to get used to the keyboard at all.
Should you want something that stands out a bit or is a bit more fun, definitely opt for the RGB backlight option as you can change the light configuration and some of them are a lot of fun to see. You can use it as a Bluetooth keyboard or use the included USB-C cable to connect it directly to your Mac or PC. It's great that Keychron includes caps for both Mac and Windows users, and the slider on the side makes it easy to ensure you are using the correct configuration.
This is far from the most expensive mechanical keyboard on the market, but also not the cheapest. It sits well in the middle-ground of keyboards, and has a build quality that exceeds the price. You shouldn't need to worry about it breaking or having any issues anytime soon.
After switching to the K1, I don't have any urge to go back to any other keyboard or try any new options anymore. The keyboard has met every need that I have, and I think that it's likely that it will do the same for you. Give one a shot today, and see if this can become your next typing companion.
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