Review about Lofree Mechanical Bluetooth Keyboard
The Lofree keyboard is being marketed as being “inspired by typewriters.” Instead of square keys, like those found on Apple and other keyboards, the Lofree’s keys are round, like those user had find on a typewriter. The round keys are also slightly concave, not flat like the Apple keyboard keys, so their fingertips nestle in nicely. The Lofree is a mechanical keyboard, and there’s a satisfying click when useru press a key followed by subtle spring-back action.
When Apple introduced its latest MacBooks, some users complained that the new butterfly mechanism in the keys was a turnoff. They criticized the keyboard for its lack of travel, and said the experience of typing was not much different to tapping on a touch screen. Other users felt okay with the change. Whichever side people fell on the debate, everyone could agree that how a keyboard actually feels beneath the fingers matters a great deal.
With the lofree Bluetooth keyboard, the designers have tried to re-imagine the typing process in a more radical way, by recreating the experience of operating a traditional typewriter, but in an elegant retro-modern design. The desirability of such a product is in no doubt – lofree’s Indiegogo campaign set out to raise $10,000 over 30 days, but has already garnered $364,443 from over 4,000 backers, with several weeks to spare. User got a hold of a finished unit to see if the lofree keyboard can live up to expectations.
Design and Features about Lofree Bluetooth Keyboard
The Dot has a small footprint, roughly the size of an Apple Magic keyboard, with hard non-adjustable rubber pegs and keys that mimic the look of traditional typewriters like the Remington 12 from the 1920s. They complement the smooth curves of the tray perfectly, making for an elegant and timeless design that will go with just about any desktop setup. It features a sturdy rounded plastic base, with two rubber legs at the back that raise the keys high off the desk at a six degree angle.
On the right-hand side of the keyboard is a micro-USB port for charging as well as for connecting in wired mode using the included cable. There’s a switch next to the port to turn Bluetooth on/off. The second switch sets the keyboard for use on Mac/iOS or Windows/Android, but a quick look at the layout shows the lofree has been designed primarily with Apple users in mind.
The functional layout on the top row houses the usual controls you’d expect of an Apple keyboard, like Mission Control, Launchpad, volume, and so on. However, overall the keys are more crowded, and there are some changes to the layout, the main one being the fact that the number key row lines up differently, so 1 is slightly right of Q, 2 is right of W, and so on. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed key numbers 1, 2, and 3 all have Bluetooth symbols. These are used in combination with the fn key to quickly switch between up to three paired devices.
The arrow keys are also really annoying. The left, right and down keys are fine, but the top arrow key is off-center to make room for the (annoying) right shift key. Not sure why the designers didn’t just move the shift key to the far-most right side. This design decision was the primary source of my typos. In an effort to hit the shift key, user have hit the top arrow key and move the cursor, which often led to the deletion of entire sentences.
Instead of the squishy rubber membrane user have find under most notebook keycaps, lofree has chosen to use Gateron Blue mechanical switches. The decision reflects lofree’s attempt to mimic not only the look of a typewriter as closely as possible, but also the sound and the tactile sensation of hitting traditional typewriter keys.
The lofree appeared in Bluetooth preferences as soon as user switched it on, and the LED beside the caps lock key flashed to confirm the connection. The ability to switch between devices worked well too, and user didn’t experience any dropouts when testing the keyboard within a reasonable range.
User type heavy-handed at the best of times, but tapping at the lofree’s keys was enough to create an echo in the hallway leading to their office room. Gateron switches are loud and “clicky” compared to Apple keyboards, which is obviously why they were chosen. Whether you or anyone within earshot can get on with the sound will depend on taste as well as circumstance.
The keyboard comes equipped with a rechargeable battery, which Lofree says is on a par with some of today’s most popular Bluetooth keyboards. Upon receiving it, user fully charged it up and never encountered any low battery indicators in five full days of use. It also comes with an auto-sleep mode that Lofree claims will extend the keyboard’s battery.
There’s no denying the lofree’s inviting looks – its retro aesthetic is an immediate eye-catcher that’s sure to brighten up any computer desk or study space. As for invoking the bygone spirit of typewriting, it broadly accomplishes what it sets out to achieve. It’s just a shame the tweaked layout distracts from user’s creative flow and forces them to relearn where certain keys are located. For those with nostalgia and patience in abundance, however, the lofree should prove a delightful keyboard to use in the long term.
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