Hello, welcome to my first blog post. I have been using the Keychron K1v3 for a few months now, and here are my thoughts as a long time user.
- ABS laser-etched keycaps
- Low-profile Gateron switches
- Aluminum case
- RGB or white backlit
- Bluetooth/Wired dual connectivity
- 2000mAh battery
- Support for Mac, iOS, Windows, Android
- $70 for white backlit TKL version (+$10 for RGB and +$10 for full size)
The Keychron K1 is a very well built keyboard with a solid aluminum chassis with plastic sides. There are color-matched screws visible across the top of the board, which are hidden between keys, but definitely visible. There are two switches on the back of the keyboard (facing away from you) that allow you to switch between iOS and Windows layouts and between Bluetooth, wired, or off.
The stabilizers are not your conventional keyboard stabilizers due to the low profile of the switches, but they sound acceptable with minimal rattle. The actual wire is above the top plate and is exposed on all sides. This makes it easier to access for maintenance, but may also lead to more problems with durability later on.
This keyboard has low-profile keycaps that are very hard to find replacements for. The keycaps themselves are made of ~1 mm ABS plastic coated with paint with the legends laser-etched on. There is no sculpting on the top of the keycaps and they are completely flat. This makes these caps beautiful to look at if you're into the minimalist look, but not as great to type on. The benefits of laser-etched ABS are the bright, uniform backlighting, crisp legends, and low price. The surface your fingers come into contact with is the layer of paint, which is a smooth surface that I would say feels cheap. I personally would prefer to have better feeling keycaps, but I also realize how difficult it must be to make backlit doubleshot keycaps for low profile switches simply due to how thin the board has to be.
Overall, the combination of the feel of the laser-etched paint, the lack of an indentation for your fingers, and the thinness of these caps make them not my first pick. If there are ever low-profile keycap sets available for purchase, I would switch these out immediately.
When I bought the k1, there were options for either red (linear) or blue (clicky) low-profile switches made by Gateron. I opted for the low-profile red (linear) switches since I work with other people nearby. The Gateron low-profile red switches are surprisingly smooth and offer a noticeably shorter total travel distance of 2.5 mm compared to a regular mechanical keyswitch's 3.5 - 4.0 mm. On paper, this might not seem like much, but the actual typing experience is completely different from a regular mechanical keyboard.
I started out really disliking the typing experience on this keyboard. I prefer using tactile switches for the confident feedback they provide so I can avoid bottoming out and straining my fingers.
After a few weeks of using this keyboard though, I got used to the short travel and was able to type faster than I was on regular switches. The short travel distance on this keyboard means you bottom out very easily, but are able to hit the next key much sooner because your finger has less distance to press.
Although I still prefer tactility to a linear switch, I think people who already use linears or are interested in trying it should give it a go since I ended up liking it more than I though I would have.
The original reason I bought this keyboard was because I wanted a way to reduce the strain on my wrists from using a high-profile keyboard. The way I use my keyboard, I have to rest my palm on something, and in the case of a regular keyboard, I would have to angle my wrists up at an uncomfortable angle to be able to type efficiently. This can cause many problems in the long-term such as carpel-tunnel, so I looked for solutions. There were a couple solutions and I wanted to try them all including using a wrist rest, using a thinner keyboard, or just hovering your hands above the desk. Of these, I found the wrist rest works best for me, but the thin keyboard also helped a lot. Hovering my hand above the desk was too different from what I usually do and I realized I would always revert to resting my hands on the desk after a while.
The short travel distance can be very fatiguing on your finger joints since you will almost always bottom out. If you thought it was hard to not bottom out on regular size keyboards, this is even harder. I haven't had any problems yet, but I find my fingers get tired much faster typing on this than a regular mechanical keyboard.
The overall sound of this keyboard is decent, but no where close to the "thocky" sounds you get on a custom board. This is due to the low-profile case, where the switches are entirely visible from the side, and the 1 mm ABS keycaps. There isn't much rattle in the keyswitches or stabilizers, but it also doesn't feel very premium even though it is an aluminum case.
This keyboard is for people who want to have a clean, minimalist desk setup. It can improve your typing speed at the expense of some comfort and sounds good while doing it. If you are looking for a low-profile keyboard, this is the best you can get without going fully custom.