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A Mechanical Alternative to Apple’s Magic Keyboard – Review

Rating:
6/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $120

Andrew Heinzman

If you’re a PC consumer, you should purchase nearly any mechanical keyboard with out lacking out on performance or appropriate button placement. But except you’re a tinkerer, discovering a mechanical keyboard on your Mac is fairly dang robust. That appears to be the reasoning behind Vissles’ LP85 keyboard, a mechanical, colourful tackle Apple’s Magic Keyboard.

Here’s What We Like

  • Extremely compact and moveable
  • Awesome animated and static backlighting presets
  • Comes in Windows and macOS configurations
  • Comfortable, clicky optical keys
  • Wired or wi-fi

And What We Don’t

  • Backlight and Bluetooth controls are complicated
  • Some keys aren’t absolutely illuminated by LEDs
  • Cramped structure and poor typing angle
  • Poor battery life

I’m an enormous fan of this idea—Vissles took an incredible keyboard design and tried to enhance it with game-ready, satisfying, customizable options. But the execution is a bit spotty, and sadly, I don’t suppose the LP85 will attraction to everybody.

A Design That Almost Matches the Magic Keyboard

Vissles

The idea behind Vissles’ LP85 keyboard is fairly simple; it’s like an Apple Magic Keyboard with clicky mechanical keys and flashy backlighting. If you don’t like typing on a Magic Keyboard, you in all probability gained’t just like the LP85. That mentioned, the LP85 isn’t an ideal Magic Keyboard substitute, and it might flip off some Apple followers.

Design-wise, Vissles actually captured the Apple vibe right here. The LP85 feels tremendous strong and dense, has an aluminum case, and has an especially low-profile really feel. It’s a sloped keyboard, and at its tallest level, it’s simply 12mm thick (the Magic Keyboard is 9mm thick). The LP85’s width and top (307.6mm x 118.1mm) are simply barely bigger than the Magic Keyboard’s (278.8mm x 114.8mm).

Vissles roughly copied the Magic Keyboard structure for the LP85, although the corporate made a number of modifications that I take pleasure in. Unlike Apple’s keyboard, this keyboard has full-sized arrow keys plus a row of web page navigation keys—dwelling, web page up, web page down, and so forth. I assume these keys are right here for Windows customers, however they work effective on macOS. (The print-screen button doesn’t do something on macOS, although you would bind it to a keyboard shortcut should you actually wished to.)

An image showing the Vissles LP85's measurements.
Vissles

My massive downside is that the LP85 feels cramped. This isn’t instantly noticeable, however after a protracted workday, typing on the LP85 is like tying my fingers into pretzels. Vissles went with a smaller key dimension than Apple, which is a foul concept in my guide.

More broadly talking, the LP85 simply isn’t very ergonomic. That’s to not say that Apple’s keyboards are ergonomic both—neither the LP85 nor the Magic Keyboard have toes or risers to regulate their typing angle. And after all, each are formed like strong rectangles, with none curvature to accommodate pure hand and wrist motion.

Previous variations of the Vissles LP85 (the macOS mannequin) had their Function and Option keys reversed, which was fairly offputting. Thankfully, Vissles now installs the keys of their appropriate order. I solely want the corporate had added small glyphs to the Command, Function, Option, and Control keys. (Some web sites and apps present these icons as a substitute of the keys’ names, and I’m not good sufficient to recollect what’s what.)

I’m additionally not a fan of the LP85’s Bluetooth pairing course of. To pair a brand new machine, it’s a must to maintain Function and P. And to decide on between your three paired units, it’s a must to maintain Function and press both Q, W, or E. Printing these directions on the keyboard’s underside would save clients loads of confusion, although I’m certain you would memorize these instructions in a day should you plan to make use of them typically. Other keyboards, like Logitech’s MX Keys, have devoted buttons for this, with clearly-labeled icons and no wonky key mixtures to recollect.

The Backlight Is the Star of the Show

The LP85 with a dynamic backlight.
Andrew Heinzman

I perceive that clicky mechanical keys are one of many massive promoting factors for the LP85. But to me, the backlight is what makes this keyboard particular. I’m very impressed by the standard and performance of the LP85’s backlight, though I’ve a few complaints that I hope Vissles addresses sooner or later.

Vissles picked some high-quality LEDs for this construct—my photographs don’t do a ton of justice right here. Each LED is brilliant and crisp, even in direct mild, and animations look easy as silk.

Users can choose between 19 dynamic and eight monochrome backlight choices, and yeah, there’s one thing for everybody. I’m particularly fond of 1 multicolor mode, which assigns random colours to every key and modifications their shade when pressed. I additionally take pleasure in that you could select which shade you need to use in monochrome mode, and the dynamic animations might be elevated or decreased in velocity.

Here’s the place I begin complaining. While a lot of the LP85’s keys shine with a strong shade, keys with lengthy names (like Command and Caps Lock) aren’t absolutely illuminated. I believe Vissles ought to’ve shortened a few of these key names (exchange Command with CMD, and so forth.) to make the backlighting extra constant.

Oh, and this downside would possibly sound acquainted—it’s a must to use bizarre keyboard shortcuts to regulate the LP85’s backlight. I wrote out the directions on a sticky be aware and tacked them on the underside of the keyboard, which was simpler than maintaining the directions at my desk.

Optical Keys: You’ll Love Them or Hate Them

An illustration showing the LP85's optical key design.
Vissles

Because the LP85 is a mechanical keyboard, it’s so much louder than Apple’s Magic Keyboard. That mentioned, this keyboard could really feel a bit totally different from different mechanical beasts, because it makes use of optical switches as a substitute of linear or tactile switches.

Optical switches use mild to detect if you press a key. As a consequence, they have a tendency to have little or no resistance and an extremely quick response time. The “debounce delay” you hear about in different mechanical keyboards doesn’t exist in optical keyboards, so naturally, they’re a well-liked choice amongst avid gamers. (And sure, this keyboard is tremendous responsive. I didn’t discover any delay over a Bluetooth connection.)

The LP85 with a green backlight.
Andrew Heinzman

But should you’re used to mechanical keyboards with linear or tactile switches, an optical keyboard just like the LP85 could really feel somewhat too “mild” or “mushy” when typing or gaming. The LP85 has an actuation power score of 50g—akin to Cherry MX Red switches however a lot lighter than different well-liked choices. (That mentioned, the LP85 is a bit quicker than a Cherry MX Red keyboard, because it has simply 1.2mm pre-travel and a couple of.5mm of complete journey.)

For what it’s price, I believe Vissles went with the optical know-how to maintain this keyboard as dense and low-profile as attainable. Sticking tactile switches in a chassis this small could also be unimaginable.

As for the keyboard’s sound—properly, it’s positively clicky. The sound isn’t as weighty or loud as what you’ll get with some keyboards, however it will get the job carried out. (Personally, I want that Vissles provided this keyboard with out the clicky sound. I actually solely care concerning the optical switches and backlight.)

Again, I believe the LP85 is a strong improve choice should you’re utilizing a membrane keyboard and wish one thing clicky. But some folks could choose heavier, louder, larger switches. I also needs to reiterate that the LP85’s keycaps aren’t replaceable; what you see is what you get.

Battery Life: I Have Bad News

The Vissles LP85 USB-C port and Bluetooth/Wired connection switcher.
Andrew Heinzman

Looking for a Bluetooth keyboard with wonderful battery life? Well, this ain’t it. The LP85 has a comparatively small battery, and since it has backlit keys and optical switches, it solely lasts a number of days on a cost.

I work a minimum of eight hours a day, and I spend most of that point typing. In my expertise, the LP85 lasts about two days with its backlight absolutely illuminated. When the backlight’s turned off, the keyboard can go about 5 days earlier than dying.

That’s a reasonably abysmal battery life—about two days in need of the Keychron K2 and different well-liked mechanical keyboards. It’s additionally half the battery life you’ll get with most rechargeable membrane keyboards.

Just to be clear, the LP85 works over a wireless or wired connection. Those who plan to use it with a USB cable don’t need to worry about the battery.

If you want a Bluetooth mechanical gaming keyboard with good battery life, I suggest buying one that takes AA or AAA batteries. The Logitech G613 is such an choice, because it lasts a few yr on a pair of AAs. (Unfortunately, there aren’t loads of Mac choices on this house.)

Who Is the Vissles LP85 For?

The Vissles LP85 keyboard without its backlight.
Andrew Heinzman

It’s clear that the Vissles LP85 is an thrilling different to Apple’s Magic Keyboard, and it might even attraction to PC customers who need one thing compact, mechanical, and flashy. But there are loads of ache factors that will flip off some clients.

Solely by way of pricing, I believe the LP85 is a strong deal. You get a well-made optical mechanical keyboard with nice backlighting for $120. But this keyboard is a bit cramped, its optical keys could not attraction to all folks, the battery life kinda stinks, the keycaps aren’t replaceable, and the backlighting presets aren’t the identical factor as programmable RGB.

For avid gamers, I counsel searching for one thing a bit extra snug and sturdy. But should you simply desire a flashy, mechanical, moveable tackle the Magic Keyboard design, the LP85 is a strong choice. It simply isn’t a good choice.

Here’s What We Like

  • Extremely compact and moveable
  • Awesome animated and static backlighting presets
  • Comes in Windows and macOS configurations
  • Comfortable, clicky optical keys
  • Wired or wi-fi

And What We Don’t

  • Backlight and Bluetooth controls are complicated
  • Some keys aren’t absolutely illuminated by LEDs
  • Cramped structure and poor typing angle
  • Poor battery life