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The Keychron Q1 Keyboard Is Just the Right Type of Tactile Satisfaction

01.28.22 | By
The Keychron Q1 Keyboard Is Just the Right Type of Tactile Satisfaction
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When mechanical keyboard specialists Keychron offered to send a Keychron Q1 keyboard to test out, admittedly I agreed with a bit of trepidation. Over the years my hands and arms have become accustomed to 60-65% low profile mechanical keyboard layouts; bumping back up to even a 75% layout seemed daunting, not to mention the proposition of switching over from ultra-thin 2mm keycaps back to taller double-shot ABS keycaps. Proficient typing skills are built upon muscle memory, and even a modest change in feel and layout can throw off speed and accuracy. But intrigued by the promise of a beginner-friendly, highly customizable mechanical keyboard with a wide degree of options paired with a higher quality build, I was game to determine whether the Q1 was a reason to go big (subjectively speaking).

The first thing you’ll notice about the Keychron Q1 upon unpacking is this peripheral’s weight. It’s heavy: 3.5lbs in total. In fact, initially I assumed Keychron had sent a multitude of keyboards to test out, when in fact it was merely the surprising heft of the Q1’s aluminum case and layered construction responsible for the surprising bicep workout.

Inside the aluminum chassis Keychron sandwiches six layers before topping the Q1 with your choice in switches and keycaps. The resulting construction means the Q1 is never apt to drift away from wherever you set it, and typing upon it delivers a confident tactile feedback attributed to the keyboard’s solid case. This is all to say the build quality of the Keychron is top notch. Presented with a strapping Brutalist aesthetic somewhat reminiscent of mainframe-era keyboards updated with a distinctly modern flair and truncated 75% layout, its also rather handsome.

Situated on the rear next to the USB-C port, a switch permits users to choose from Mac or PC compatible modes (Windows specific keys are included).

The Q1 connects using a unique coiled aviator USB-C cable (sorry, no wireless), but our early production model came with a 1.8 m fabric braided USB-C to USB-C cable long enough to reach floor situated desktops if required. More importantly, the Q1 was immediately recognized once paired with our Apple MacBook Pro or Surface Studio desktop.

Impressed as we were with the design and build quality, it was only once our fingertips made contact with the Keychron Q1’s doubleshot ABS keycaps when curiosity evolved into genuine affection. The tactile feedback of the Q1 is very satisfying, arguably its most defining feature, with just enough key travel to feel great without feeling too fatiguing – even for fingers accustomed to low profile laptop-style butterfly keys. Did it makes us type faster? No, but in due time we think we could match, if not exceed, our previous typing speeds once we acclimate to the new layout and higher profile keys.

Our test unit arrived with Gateron Blue switches (alongside a cool optional volume dial control replacing the upper right corner badge plate), delivering a distinctly audible clickety-clack with every press. But options are also available for less noisy both Red and Brown switches while ordering a set, each changing the typing noise level, something to seriously take into consideration if you work within earshot of others.

We’d be remiss not to mention the Q1 is a non-adjustable height keyboard; alongside its higher profile and taller keycaps we could feel a bit of fatigue set in within half an hour of use since we’re used to low profile typing. A wrist rest improves ergonomics and comfort greatly.

Finally, a huge appeal of build-your-own keyboards is the option to tweak and customize the components to your heart’s content after purchase. Keychron has an entire page dedicated to all of the options designed to work with the Q1 – from resin palm rests, to all varieties of switches and colorful keycaps, and even the option to customize a corner badge with your own graphic. The Q1 and its accompanying selection of accessories clearly land in the geeky chic category, but it’s also undeniable the Keychron Q1 delivers a satisfying tactile experience that elevates the daily typing experience with a level of aesthetic flair that may surprise even the most pragmatic of users.

>>> For more clickety-clack mechanical keyboards, click here! <<<

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.