Keychron K2

Keychron K2

Like many people, I’ve been fascinated with the emergence/re-emergence of mechanical keyboards over the last few years. YouTube is full of videos of them, and there are endless comparisons of what different switches sound like. There’s also a whole industry of people building their own keyboards.

The trouble is that it all seems so complicated. You get a case, and some other bits, then you make a decision over what switches you’re planning to use. Different switches activate differently, and they also sound very different. If you go the whole hog, you’ll be hand-lubing each and every switch on your keyboard, a process that involves dismantling each switch, getting a small paintbrush to apply a lubricant (exactly which lubricant you use is another decision), and then reassembling.

Then there’s more about the sound, which can be affected by things like the internals of the case you choose, the construction and materials used for the case and so on.

Then, and perhaps most importantly, there are keycaps. The actual bits that you press. There are endless options including materials, but actually buying some can be a complex process. Many of them are sold in group buys where you pay upfront and then the parts are manufactured. But that is a process that can take weeks, or more likely months.

And I’ve not even talked about what size keyboard you want, and whether you need Bluetooth, RGB, or fancier things like dials on the keyboard.

Keychron is manufacturer that has made a lot of this easier by producing well-received keyboards fully assembled in advance, but that are, for the most part, upgradeable in the future. Want to replace the keycaps later? Sure. Want to change you switches? Knock yourself out!

I’d been umming and erring over getting a keyboard, and then during Amazon’s Prime Day this summer, when other brands were also doing deals, I bit the bullet on a Keychron K2. I wanted a UK layout (something else to consider), and chose the model with an RGB backlight and aluminium frame. I also picked Gateron Red switches.

The K2 is a 75% keyboard, meaning that it’s 75% of full-size. So there’s no number-pad, and it’s therefore a bit smaller on the desktop. Other models are as small as 60% for a truly minimalist keyboard, whilst 80% keyboards move the arrow keys into their own section alongside the likes of Page Up/Down, Insert and those other keys you never quite use.

As I say, switches are their own world, with different manufacturers, and different levels of clickiness and types of activation. My red keys are supposed to be quiet, while browns tend to be clicky. I’ll be honest and say that coming from a Logitech MX Keys keyboard, everything sounds loud to me.

The K2 itself is remarkably well built and feels very solid. This model is wireless via Bluetooth and can be paired with three devices (as can my MX Keys). That’s useful if you have several computers/iPads kicking around. It comes with spare keycaps to allow you to switch between Windows and MacOS layouts, and a switch on the side provides some subtle differences for behaviours between those operating systems, which I discovered when it was left in Mac-mode and I tried Alt-Tabbing in Windows.

My model came with a couple of accent keycaps for the Escape key and bespoke lighting key that changes the RGB patterns. You can go full-rainbow/flashing if you really want!

The keyboard has two levels of stand at the back to prop it up into a better position. I’ve ended up raising it to it’s full height which feels better for me.

Typing on the keyboard is very satisfying, but it is loud. I realised on a work Zoom call, that trying to Google something quietly in the background whilst not muted is basically impossible.

The slightly smaller size is something that is taking a while to get used to. I’m typing this blog post on the keyboard, and I’m just not as fast as I normally am. So although it is satisfying, there is a level of frustration. Now in part that’s because at home and at work, I mostly use full-size keyboards. Yes, I use laptops, but not for extended periods of typing.

Obviously gamers love mechanical keyboards, but I don’t really game on my PC, so can’t comment on that. I just wanted to try something that a different typing experience, and for that, this is enjoyable.

I was surprised how light-weight the keycaps are. You don’t really notice until you’re changing them, since my keyboard came set-up for Mac and I wanted it to be PC. The keyboard comes with a nice device to pull the keycaps off easily, and another to lift the switches should I want to change them. But when you’re typing on the keycaps, they really feel quite solid. I guess that’s as much the switches as anything.

I’m not sure that the battery on this keyboard will last as long as my MX Keys one. But I have a USB-C charging cable on my desktop ready to charge my mouse, keyboard and anything else on my desktop, so that’s not really a problem.

The power connector is on left-hand side of the keyboard near the top so it’s not really in the way, but you might have expected it to be on the actual back of the keyboard.

Overall, an enjoyable experience that might actually lead me to writing more – not least on this blog.

That all said, I’m already looking to see what other keycaps are available. It’s a dangerous road to go down…

Delivery Issues – Evri

Keychron has a UK site which is really just a portal that displays GBP pricing and defaults to UK (and other European) keyboard layouts. But it was always clear that delivery would come from China, so would take a little longer than usual. Fine – I was prepared to wait.

My order was confirmed on 13 July, and a follow-up email said it had shipped on 14 July. The order came with a tracking code.

UK logistics were to be handled by Evri. An update on 15 July said that they were expecting it, and a week or so later on 23 July, Evri said they had it.

Here’s where I made my mistake. A recent issue with another Evri parcel had seen that package go to my nearby Evri parcel shop where due to the chaotic nature of that shop (a tiny newsagent in reality), they’d returned the parcel as unwanted just a few hours after receiving it.

Evri’s expected delivery date coincided with a time I wouldn’t be in, so I thought redirecting it to a locker would be the safer bet. But Evri’s nearest locker was not that close. Still, I redirected it there and waited.

I knew redirecting would take a few days longer, but a week went by and there was no update. Then I got an email from Keychron saying that the delivery had been refused.

Contacting Evri is basically impossible. They have a chatbot that is entirely automated. There is seemingly no triage system in place to forward more complex queries to individuals.

After to-ing and fro-ing, Evri said, via their chatbot, that I should get in touch with the supplier. I did, and I did get a reply from Keychron by someone with some basic English-language skills.

More weeks went by, and Keychron said they were chasing Evri. Finally they said they had it and they’d let me know.

Next thing I know, the keyboard finally arrived at my home address, delivered by Royal Mail!

Exactly how all that happened, I don’t know. Perhaps Evri returned it to a Keychron UK address and they just sent it Royal Mail to avoid further issues. To be clear, I don’t blame Keychron. But Evri are useless. When it works well, it’s fine. But when there’s an issue, there is nobody to talk to. I didn’t get to choose Evri as my delivery company – they were foisted on me.

Some of the parcel shops really aren’t well set-up. My local one is a chaotic mess of different ecommerce companies alongside sweets, tobacco and alcohol. They’re useless.

To be clear, another local shop that is a UPS depot is far better. The proprietor even has his own system on top of the UPS one to fully record in- and out-goings. And I’ve had few issues with DPD who are much better at telling you delivery times and providing other delivery options.

Evri on the other hand is just very bad.