Today was a little bit like Christmas. I have had my eye on a backlit mechanical keyboard for quite some time now so that I can see keys more easily in the evenings. I was previously using the Logitech K380 keyboard, which is a great device, but it is not mechanical and does not have backlit keys. I love the multiple device Bluetooth connectivity - you can pair the K380 to three devices at once, and switching between the three devices is a simple tap of a key away. One day I was casually perusing Kickstarter (a habit which my wallet hates) and I saw a brand I recognised with a new keyboard... the Keychron K3.
The device was well packaged - it came with a protective bubble wrap around the exterior box. In my excitement to open the device, I didn't manage to grab a photo of this.
I was pleasantly surprised at how professional and well designed the packaging was - it has a really clean and high-end look to it.
Inside the box, you get:
- The Keychron K3
- A quick start guide
- A full user manual
- A USB C to USB A charging / data cable (for charging up the battery in the Keychron but also connecting it to a device in a wired mode)
- A key cap removal tool
- Windows Keycaps (the device comes with Mac / iOS keycaps by default
Connecting the Device
The keyboard is really easy to use. Connecting up a device via Bluetooth is a simple as hitting fn and 1, 2, or 3, dependent on which Bluetooth slot you want to connect the device to. I connected my device up to my personal Mac on 1, and work laptop on 2.
One really interesting feature of the Keychron is that it can also connect to a device via USB cable. The Keychron has a USB C port on the rear (i.e. facing towards your screen). The included cable is USB A on the end that connects to the computer. This can be used to charge the device, alternatively by flicking a switch on the back left side of the Keychron you can use turn off Bluetooth connectivity and instead use the keyboard in wired mode. This is handy if you are working for a company whose IT policy does not allow you to use wireless peripherals. It's really easy to find the switches on the back of the device - but you have to look over the device to check the label for which position the device is in.
The device also has a hardware toggle on the back between Mac configuration and Windows / Android. I found that leaving the keyboard in 'Mac' mode worked really well in Windows - the Command Key mapped to the Windows button - which reduced context switching penalties for me switching between the devices.
The Keychron K3 backlighting is beautiful - look at it:
The device has several of these modes, and most of the time I don't expect to use them as they are quite distracting. There is an option to get RGB coloured backlights, but I only went for white RGBs.
Noise and Action
I chose the Gateron Red keys. They are great - I don't think they are particularly loud, but then again I am lucky enough to work from home in a room far away from the other people in my home. If you are working from a shared space in a small flat, I would think about whether your partner or housemates are going to be ok with clickety clackety noise all day long.
I was a little bit surprised by the angle of the keys, but I have quickly adapted to this. The best way of describing it is that the keys are slightly angled away from you. Within a few minutes of starting to use the keyboard I instinctively reached for a palm rest to put in front of the device. This made the angle feel much more natural and my fingers quickly adapted to the device. So I'd recommend pairing a K3 order with a palm rest if you don't have one already.
The angle of the keyboard does take getting used to when moving from a lower profile keyboard like the K380. As an example, I found my fingers getting caught on raised keys as I move across them - but this is something that I adapted to really quickly (within a few days). In general, I was surprised at how comfortable the spacing of the keys felt after just a few minutes of typing.
Conclusion - Buy It
For me, the Keychron K3 is an instant buy recommendation. I'm really happy with the device; it is affordable, has great connectivity, can connect up to three devices wirelessly via Bluetooth and one device via USB cable. The backlighting modes are a bit of a bonus - they have a cool effect and are really high quality. Out of the box, the device works and is a pleasure to type on. It has all of the Function keys and standard Mac keys (like screen brightness, launchpad, backlighting brightness, and multimedia keys). The fact that this device has allowed me to take one old USB keyboard off my desk is an added bonus. It's a great device that I would highly recommend. Click here to visit Keychron.com.