Keychron K2 keyboard

Five days into the Keychron K2 and here’s what I think. It’s definitely a good “starter” keyboard for someone who has only used membrane keyboards, or last used a mechanical 30 years ago (me).

The good:

  • It’s very nice looking, and I got the white LED version with the plastic case and ABS keys.
  • The orange ESC key is beautiful, but only when the LEDs are off. (When they’re on, you can see how thin the keycaps are because the light shines through the orange.)
  • The Windows/MacOS switch is so, so handy.
  • It does Bluetooth which is great for hooking it to a phone or iPad, but I hardly ever use that. When it’s connected to a PC or Mac, I use the USB cable because I don’t want to worry about any latency.
  • The Gateron Brown switches are nice. I don’t know how close they are to Cherry MX Brown switches. The Browns have very subtle tactility. Any more subtle and they would feel linear.
  • The case doesn’t flex even though it’s plastic.
  • It’s $75!

The not so good:

  • Not programmable. (But it’s $75!)
  • The bottoming-out is loud and not for me.
  • As mentioned above, the keycaps are very thin, which is apparent when you pull one off and turn it over.
  • I’m pretty sure the keycaps are (shudder) painted. One of the priorities of my life is to have as little painted plastic around as possible. To have it on something I’m typing on all day is gross, even if the paint is kind of nice paint.
  • The case is high enough that it will savage your wrists if you don’t use a wrist rest.
  • All the wasted space in the case is like a tiny cavern for the bottoming-out to reverberate in.
  • A few keys are squeaky and I can feel them scraping the switch housing when pressed (e.g. Backspace). But I don’t believe these are meant to be lubed by the customer, so I’m not going there.
  • The right column of Page Up, Page Down, Home, and End is in a weird order and I can’t get used to it. I don’t really have a choice, though.
  • The Delete key is in a weird spot.

Tweaks:

  • I added clear o-rings to all the keys except Return, Backspace, and the Shift keys. All the ones with stabilizers I left as-is (except for Space) because I didn’t want to make them feel mushier. For all the no-stabilizer keys, the o-rings really help, but you can’t just slap them on there and expect the keyboard to feel ok. You have to use the keycap puller tool and press the o-ring around the stem all the way down, and then press the key firmly back onto the board when the ring is seated. If you don’t do this, the keys will feel inconsistent relative to each other. And because the bottoming-out is still a little bit loud, I ordered two more sets of different o-rings today (WASD red and blue) to see how they do. I’d be ok with giving up a fraction of space in travel for quieter keys. UPDATE: The WASD reds are great (haven’t gotten the blues yet) and an improvement on the clear no-name ones. Also, just press them onto the end of the stem (don’t push them all the way down like I wrote earlier) and then push each keycap firmly down to seat the o-ring. If you press the o-rings all the way down on the stem they don’t work as well.
  • I opened the case up and stuck two to three layers of scraps from a yoga mat and a rubber shelf liner in all the voids (with more layers towards the back where the case is higher), being careful to leave space on the left for the switches, USB-C port, and what looks like a small electrolytic capacitor jutting down. This improves the keyboard massively, making it a little heavier, more solid, and much quieter and more expensive-sounding.
  • The Keychron wrist rest (sold separately) is solid wood and the perfect height and width for the keyboard, but at least in our humid summer, it warps enough that it becomes a tiny bit convex and the left and right rubber pads/feet don’t sit flat on the desk. After about three minutes of use, I learned how much I lean the ball of my left hand on the wrist rest, because the right side kept popping up when I would move to grab the mouse. That’s a deal-killer. I fixed that by cutting some 5mm strips from an old neoprene mouse pad and sticking them to the bottom of the wood with the adhesive from a tape runner. The mouse pad pieces are just a hair thicker than the OEM rubber feet pads, so now it doesn’t move at all, ever. It’s such a pleasure to not have it knocking around all the time.
  • I’m very excited about the PBT keycaps I ordered today. They’re opaque, so that’s a little sad, and they have no multimedia legends on them, but they look thick and not painted and the colors are fantastic. Supposedly they’ll sound different/quieter.

I know I could avoid a lot of these tweaks by just getting a Happy Hacking Keyboard or a Leopold FC660C, but the former has no arrow keys, and the latter is always out of stock. And to scratch the itch of needing 1.) a new toy to play with and 2.) stuff to research and obsess over, the K2 is doing the job well!

Phil Nunnally @twelvety