Until just lately, Keychron was finest identified for its line of (comparatively) reasonably priced wi-fi mechanical keyboards with good quality-of-life options like Mac compatibility. Then, in 2021, got here the Keychron Q1, the primary of over a dozen Q-series keyboards with a weighty aluminum development, a customizable structure and switches, and nice typing really feel. They’re among the many finest off-the-shelf keyboards you will get for the cash.
This yr’s Keychron Q1 Pro appears like a wedding of those two traces. It has the identical nice development, customizability, and typing really feel because the Q1 however with Bluetooth connectivity that’s each bit as dependable and easy-to-use as Keychron’s extra reasonably priced keyboards. Keychron already made good premium keyboards and good wi-fi keyboards — now you will get each in the identical machine.
At $199 (or $179 with no keycaps or switches), the Q1 Pro continues to be comparatively dear. But contemplating that’s simply $20 greater than a equally specced wired Q1, with no actual downsides, I feel it’s the plain alternative even for individuals who plan to make use of it as a wired keyboard more often than not.
Keychron was initially taking preorders for the Q1 Pro through its Kickstarter, however it’s now obtainable to preorder straight from Keychron, with transport anticipated in April.
You’d be forgiven for mistaking the Q1 Pro for the unique Q1 at first look. Both keyboards use a compact laptop-style 75 % structure, with a programmable quantity dial on the highest proper (on the Q1, this dial was non-compulsory, however right here it’s commonplace). Like the Q1, the Q1 Pro weighs in at round 4 kilos, which implies it’s far too heavy to be the form of wi-fi keyboard that may be simply chucked in a backpack and used whereas on the go. Both have hot-swap switches, are totally customizable with VIA, and have gasket-mounted plates.
Look nearer, nevertheless, and the variations change into extra obvious. Around the highest of the keyboard, you’ll discover that the Q1’s bodily Mac / Windows structure toggle swap has been joined by a second for hopping between Wired and Bluetooth modes or to show the keyboard off solely, in addition to a small plastic-covered cutout within the aluminum body to enhance wi-fi reception.
Wireless connectivity is the large new characteristic for the Q1 Pro, and actually, I battle to fault it. Throughout my month of utilizing the keyboard over Bluetooth with a Macbook Air, I didn’t expertise any connectivity points in any respect. As a take a look at, I additionally tried strolling round my house typing on the keyboard, and its connection held up simply advantageous from different rooms and even downstairs. The keyboard can save connections to as much as three units, which is right if you wish to rapidly use it to rapidly sort a response to a message in your cellphone earlier than swapping again to your laptop. It had no drawback swapping between my laptop computer and cellphone in my exams.
The solely grievance I’ve about wi-fi efficiency is that Bluetooth is your solely choice. That’s in distinction to different related keyboards just like the Epomaker TH80, which features a small 2.4GHz USB dongle to make use of as an alternative choice to Bluetooth. Dongles like these are helpful in case your primary PC doesn’t have a Bluetooth receiver, and corporations like Corsair, Razer, and Logitech use them to supply a better polling charge than what’s obtainable over Bluetooth.
But, with the Keychron Q1 Pro, Bluetooth is all you get. That means you’re caught with a glacial 90Hz polling charge when utilizing the keyboard wirelessly, which isn’t nice for fast-paced video games. Outside of video games, nevertheless, I didn’t really feel any lag whereas utilizing the keyboard, and you may at all times plug it in through USB to get a extra conventional 1000Hz polling charge.
Battery life is great when utilizing the keyboard wirelessly — as long as you’re ready to reside with out RGB lighting. With the RGB lighting at its default setting, I received 4 work days out of the Q1 Pro’s 4,000mAh battery and one additional day after the lighting robotically turned off to save lots of energy. So you’re successfully every week of use when utilizing RGB. But flip the lighting off solely, and the keyboard retains going for over a month. I final charged this keyboard six weeks in the past, and it nonetheless claims to have 20 % battery life remaining. Keychron says the keyboard provides 300 hours of battery life with the backlighting turned off, which interprets to round seven and a half weeks of use, assuming you employ the keyboard eight hours a day for 5 days every week.
RGB lighting and wi-fi keyboards are by no means an awesome pairing, however you’re not lacking out on an excessive amount of, given the Q1 Pro isn’t actually constructed to indicate it off. It’s geared up with stable, sturdy, double-shot PBT keycaps that don’t have any clear parts to let gentle shine by, so one of the best you possibly can hope for is to see some RGB lighting across the sides of every key. There’s no funky underglow or LED strips across the outdoors of the keyboard like we noticed with Drop’s Sense75. Personally, I used to be joyful to depart it turned off solely for the sake of battery life.
In the field there’s a USB-C cable and USB-C to USB-A adapter for wired connectivity. There’s additionally an additional set of Windows keycaps to make use of if that’s your working system of alternative (the Mac caps are preinstalled however simply eliminated), a keycap puller, Allen key, screwdriver, and a few spare elements like screws, rubber ft, and gaskets. This is a keyboard that’s designed to be opened up and tweaked for those who’re into that type of factor.
The Keychron Q1 Pro is obtainable with three completely different switches: tactile Keychron Ok Pro Browns, clicky Keychron Ok Pro Bananas, or linear Keychron Ok Pro Reds, which is what I had on my evaluation board. These switches are five-pin, which implies any aftermarket Cherry MX-style switches ought to match of their sockets simply advantageous, and they’re hot-swappable so you possibly can take away them utilizing a easy pulling instrument reasonably than needing a soldering iron. The Q1 Pro’s switches are oriented in a south-facing course, which is best for compatibility with aftermarket keycaps.
It’s additionally obtainable in three completely different colours — black, grey, and white — which every include complimentary coloured keycaps. These keycaps are in Keychron’s personal KSA profile, that are barely taller than the OSA keycaps Keychron has utilized in earlier Q-series boards and with a chunky retro look in comparison with extra commonplace Cherry-style keycaps. Personally, I might take or go away the look, however they’re completely useful and are constructed in a means that ought to preserve them trying good for years to return.
And belief me once I say that you simply’ll need to preserve typing on the Keychron Q1 Pro for years to return as a result of this factor feels each bit as nice because the Q1 that preceded it. Like the Q1, the Q1 Pro is a gasket-mounted keyboard, that means its swap plate is successfully suspended utilizing squishy foam contained in the keyboard’s case. That permits it a big quantity of flex while you push exhausting on the keys, which can also be helped by the extra versatile polycarbonate swap plate used on this mannequin. But what’s extra vital is the gentle and light-weight feeling this development provides the keyboard when you’re typing usually.
Not solely does the Q1 Pro really feel nice to sort on — it additionally sounds good when you’re doing it. Each keypress has a pleasant full deep sound to it, and its PCB-mounted screw-in stabilizers (which sit beneath longer keys just like the spacebar to cease them from wobbling) don’t audibly rattle like with another keyboards. There’s additionally no trace of any metallic pinging sounds as you sort.
Like Kechron’s different Q-series boards, the Q1 Pro can also be totally programmable utilizing VIA. It permits you to change what each key on the keyboard does, arrange macros, and even reprogram the quantity dial. You’ll must plug the keyboard in by USB to reprogram its structure, however I discovered that VIA had no drawback recognizing the keyboard, and it was a easy course of to get customizing.
The Keychron Q1 Pro is each bit as premium and well-made because the wired Q1 but additionally has the added flexibility of wi-fi. Even for those who use it as a wired keyboard more often than not, I nonetheless assume wi-fi is value having as a backup for the comparatively small $20 value premium.
The one cause you may need to keep on with a wired Q-series keyboard from Keychron is for those who’re not a fan of the Q1 Pro’s 75 % structure. Although its wired Q-series keyboards can be found in every part from a compact 60 % structure to a full-size keyboard, if you would like wi-fi, then 75 % is (presently) your solely choice. That will virtually actually change over time, however that’s not a lot assist for those who want a keyboard proper now.
The Q1 Pro additionally isn’t an awesome alternative for those who’re after one thing to make use of on the go along with a laptop computer or pill. You may need to think about a low-profile keyboard just like the Nuphy Air 75 or one thing with a lighter plastic development like Epomaker’s TH80 if portability is extra of a priority.
Otherwise, if the Q1 Pro’s hefty development and laptop-style 75 % structure works for you, then it has only a few downsides. It feels nice to sort on, its connectivity and battery life are stable, it’s customizable, and it’s not exorbitantly priced. It’s a implausible mechanical keyboard.
Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge
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