Click the Keychron K3 ultra-thin wireless mechanical keyboard
I’ve always been a fan of clickable keyboards – my college PC had a mechanical keyboard and I loved the feel of the substantial “click” every time I hit a key. (Even if, I must admit, I liked the sound less when my roommate borrowed my computer to play Tetris late at night.) I used mechanical keyboards until I switched to an iMac, and I was never completely satisfied with the understated Apple keyboard, although I got used to it over time.
Recently I had the chance to try the K3 Ultrathin Wireless Mechanical Keyboard of Keychron, and put it to the test. The K3 has many features similar to the K2, which GeekDad Mordechai reviewed a few years ago. It is still an 84-key keyboard, without a numeric keypad; the arrow keys and home / end / page up / page down are pressed on the right side of the keyboard. Mine is configured for the Mac, but it also includes keys for Windows that you can swap (and a switch at the top to toggle between Mac / iOS and Windows / Android). It still has the amazing lighting characteristics – you can see them in the little video below. (It’s a little cheaper if you go for the white backlight only.) You can cycle through the different light shows using the bulb button on the top right. Some have dynamic lighting that changes or shifts, and some have responsive lighting based on your keystrokes.
But there are two main differences: First, the form factor. The K2 was already compact, but the K3 is even thinner, losing the frame around the edge. It’s a small change in appearance, but it makes the keyboard particularly small, although it’s still comfortable to type with. My main problem was that I’m so used to having a separate numeric keypad (and that Enter key in the corner) that I often hit some of the random keys in the lower left corner of the keyboard when I intend to do something else. .
The other difference is more important: the K2 used Gateron mechanical switches. As Mordechai mentioned, you could choose from three different options, depending on the level of clackiness you want. The K3 has an option between Gateron Low Profile mechanical switches and Keychron optical switches, with six options for each. My test sample uses the Keychron optical switches: the button itself has a mechanical spring so you get the feel and the sound, but it triggers an optical switch on the keyboard. It also means the keys are hot-swappable – you can easily remove the key cap and change the switch using the included tools. I guess you could mix and match different types of switches, for example if you wanted extra-clicky for the letters but softer for the function keys.
My keyboard came with the brown switches (“tactile” behavior and “soft” sound level according to the table), but after trying it for a while, I swapped them with the blue (“clicking” behavior and sound level ) and felt a lot more like my old mechanical keyboard. The red keys have a ‘clickable’ behavior and a ‘silent’ sound level, which can be a good option if you like the feel but your coworkers are picky about the noise, although it’s still more clickable than my keyboard. Apple.
The keyboard can be used wired or wireless via Bluetooth (there is a small switch on the top edge), and one of the great features of Bluetooth mode is that you can sync it with up to 3 different devices, using fn + 1, 2 or 3. (Keys 1, 2 and 3 have a little bluetooth icon to remind you.) Being able to switch between my Mac and my iPad and my Apple TV without having to disconnect and reconnect is very handy !
Keychron also sent me a leather keyboard case – it’s a simple pouch with a button closure and string, and it fits their compact keyboards (but not their full-size options). It would be handy for traveling, but will probably be used less as I would still have the keyboard with my desktop computer.
Or… I would if my teenage daughter wasn’t so fascinated with this keyboard. After setting it up, I went down to my desk and found random notes on my computer that she had typed just because she liked the sound, feel, and lights (I used the setting that gave the felt like it looked like an explosion every time you pressed a key). She’s been lobbying to claim it for the PC she’s building, maybe as a graduation giveaway, but we’ll see. Personally, I find that at least for my desktop, I prefer to have a full-size keyboard, so I can look into a Keychron K1, the full 104 keys with the numeric keypad, and ditch the K3. Of course, this solution does not satisfy my other teenage daughter, so … I might have some way of negotiating household chores or something.
If you like keyboards that give you more tactile feedback, the Keychron range is worth checking out (and especially if you like colored lights). You can see a comparison chart different keyboards here.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this keyboard for review.