An eye-catching ultra-slim keyboard for Mac
I have always enjoyed RGB keyboards but I type better on flat keys like you would find on a MacBook Pro. The feel of a mechanical keyboard and the lighting effects are wonderful but if you can’t get used to jumping back and forth from a laptop keyboard to a chunky mechanical one, then it makes for more of a hassle then an enjoyment. Fortunately, there is a solution to this conundrum in the Keychron K1 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard.
Keychron is a company that was founded in 2017 by a group of keyboard enthusiasts. Their goal was to create a keyboard that was built for typists in addition to gamers. Their developers spent more than a year developing switches that were easier for typing — similar to the way a Magic Keyboard feels. They also wanted to offer a minimalist design while maintaining that tactile feel of a mechanical keyboard. Thus, the Keychron K1 was born. It’s the first mechanical keyboard in the world to feature a virtual assistant key. The K1 is designed for productivity rather than gaming. It has an ultra-thin body (18mm) and it features a Mac layout — rather than a Windows one, which is hard to find in the mechanical keyboard world. It’s one of the very few keyboards to include macOS function keys (F1 to F12).
The K1 is designed with Gateron Low Profile switches. They have a 48% lower profile than conventional switches. There are two versions available — Blue or Red. The chart below shows the differences between the two types of switches. If you like a softer feel, the Red switches are the way to go. If you like to have a firm hit when you press a key, the Blue switch is probably the option you want.
The K1 is compatible with all devices — macOS, iOS, Windows, Android — the keyboard can work with them all. The keyboard has a system switch that allows you to switch between various operating systems and it can connect to up to 3 devices via Bluetooth. The RGB backlight has 18 modes, which can be changed to match your mood.
- Color: Black
- Number of Keys: 87 and 104 keys
- Switches: Low profile switches
- Number of Multimedia Keys: 12
- Main Body Material: Aircraft-grade aluminum
- Keycap Material: ABS
- Backlit Types: 18
- Backlit: Adjustable 4-level RGB backlit
- System: Windows/Android/Mac/iOS
- Battery: 2000mAh Rechargeable li-polymer battery
- BT Working Time (White backlit): Up to 36 hours (Lab test result may vary by actual use)
- BT Working Time(RGB): Up to 38 hours (Lab test result may vary by actual use)
- Connection: Bluetooth and Type-C cable
- Bluetooth version: 3.0
- Bluetooth Device Name: Keychron K1
- Dimension (87-Key): 355 x 120 x 18mm
- Weight: About 650g / 1.43 lbs
- Dimension (104-Key) : 435 x 120 x 18mm
- Weight: About 805g / 1.77 lbs
- Operating Environment: -10 to 50℃
What’s in the Box
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- Keycap puller
- User manual
The K1 comes in a classic black box. It’s minimal with just a bit of information included on it. The box was wrapped in a plastic shipping bag. Upon opening the box, you will find the keyboard, USB-C cable for charging, instructions, key puller, and a few extra keys. The extra keys are provided so that you can switch your layout from Apple’s Mac layout to a Microsoft Windows layout. On the top of the keyboard, there is a switch on the top left corner that allows you to switch back and forth between macOS/iOS configurations to a Windows/Android configuration. It’s also very easy to toggle back and forth between Bluetooth and wired mode.
Getting the Keychron K1 set up is pretty simple. First, you want to make sure it’s completely charged before you start working with it. I believe that it had some charge out of the box, but I immediately plugged it in to charge when I took it out of the box. Because I plugged it into my MacBook Pro, the keyboard was recognized without any hesitation. Once the keyboard was charged, I unplugged it and initiated the Bluetooth option by pressing/holding Fn + 1. There is a Bluetooth logo next to the ESC key that indicates when the keyboard is in pairing mode. Once the keyboard connects, the light goes off. There is also a battery indicator LED next to the ESC key that shows when the keyboard needs to be recharged.
Along those lines, I would like to see the battery life be better. When you use the RGB lighting constantly, the battery gets drained quickly. Even though it might change the physical form of the keyboard, I would prefer to have a bigger battery included with this keyboard. I am really glad that this keyboard utilizes USB-C for charging. I am so disappointed when reviewing products in 2020 that are still using Micro or Mini USB for charging a device because I just feel like that is outdated technology.
The image below shows a detailed, close-up picture of the keyboard. You will notice how you can see three screws peeking out next to the keys. In my opinion, it would have been nice if the designer shifted those screws slightly so that they were hidden under the keys. This probably won’t matter much to some people, but I could see others being bothered by it. Even if the screws were shifted slightly, they could still be accessed by pulling the keycap off and that way they would be hidden from sight.
As is mentioned above, there are two different types of keys you can get with the Kechron K1 — Blue or Red. I actually had the chance to try out both of them. If you are more of a writer then gamer, the Gateron Blue switches are going to be your best bet when ordering this keyboard. They feel more like a traditional mechanical keyboard than the Red switches do. I used the Red switches for two weeks before switching the keyboard to test the model with Blue switches. When I switched, I immediately fell in love with the Blue switches because of the bump you feel when you press them in. It’s a pronounced bump and it’s what I really look for in a mechanical switch. The Red switches are preferable for people who do a lot of typing. They have a much softer feel. My fiance, who does a lot of typing, loves the Red switches.
As far as the layout and feel of the keys go — I have been very happy with the flat keys. This keyboard feels very much like the Apple Magic Keyboard — but with a clicky bump built-in. My fiance even said that she liked the feel of the keyboard and she doesn’t like slim, flat keyboards most of the time because the keys feel too close together to her. She said the keyboard feels natural to her and some other slim keyboards don’t.
Would I recommend this keyboard? If you are an Apple user and are wanting something more then the Magic keyboard, then yes. There is no other keyboard on the market with an ultra-slim Mac layout that is RGB and mechanical that works as well as this one. If you are a Windows user who is looking for a nice then keyboard with flat keys like an Apple keyboard then yes, it’s great. If you are wanting a chunky keyboard with super loud click-clack sounds maybe look somewhere else. I am very happy with the Keychron K1. I think it fits my needs nicely and looks great while doing so.