Low-profile mechanical keyboards have at all times appeared a bit odd to me. I get the attraction — in idea, they provide a slim, visually lighter design much like a typical membrane chiclet keyboard whereas sustaining the improved tactility and higher typing expertise of a conventional mechanical keyboard.
However in my expertise, they often find yourself because the worst of each worlds. They’re nonetheless larger than a membrane keyboard however don’t really feel markedly higher to kind on. Plus, they’re much more durable to customise than normal mechanical boards as a consequence of a a lot smaller pool of appropriate switches, keycaps, and different components. My place has been that in case you aren’t going all the way in which to a full-height mechanical keyboard, don’t trouble.
This $159 Lofree Flow keyboard I’ve been typing on for the previous few days may simply change my thoughts. Its chassis is simply 10mm thick, nevertheless it maintains a really good typing expertise. It appears cool, with elegant keycaps and sharp legends, and works wirelessly with each Home windows and Mac computer systems. It additionally has an aluminum body and construct high quality that rivals fancier mechanical keyboards, and it sounds and feels nice proper out of the field — no rattly stabilizers or pingy reverberations right here.
Lofree sells two variations of the Circulation: a white and silver one with linear switches and a black and darkish grey mannequin that comes with tactile switches and apes Apple’s area grey motif. (Oddly and annoyingly, you possibly can’t select the colour scheme and sort of change individually.) It’s clear that Lofree is focusing on Mac customers straight with the model and performance of the Circulation, nevertheless it has a Home windows mode and twin legends on the modifier keys to assist each platforms. I’ve obtained the darkish grey mannequin with black keycaps right here, and I actually like the way in which it appears on my desk — it’s modern and takes up a minimal quantity of area.
The Circulation has a 75 p.c format, which suggests it has arrow keys, a operate row, and a handful of cursor management keys. Except you’ve got a selected want for a numpad, this format provides you all of the keys you want in a compact format and is similar to what’s on plenty of laptops.
Each colours of the Circulation allow you to swap out the keycaps and switches, however in case you had been hoping to go wild with customization, there are limits. The Circulation’s switches have a special pin format from different low-profile switches, so you’re successfully restricted to Lofree’s stock Kailh switches in both linear, tactile, or clicky variants. The Circulation additionally doesn’t assist common remapping instruments like VIA that allow you to customise the performance of the keys precisely how you want them.
For me, none of these limitations have been an issue as a result of I actually like each the way in which the Circulation appears with its included keycaps and the way it feels and sounds with the Phantom tactile switches my unit got here with. I’m additionally in a position to remap keys utilizing Karabiner Components on my Mac, so I don’t actually miss VIA. The keycaps are a textured PBT materials that resists shine and feels good underneath my fingers. Their profile is a bit flatter than I’m used to, however I feel that makes it simpler for these coming from a laptop computer or chiclet keyboard. (I used to be in a position to get full-size MX-style keycaps to work on the Circulation, however the typing journey was comically low, and doing so form of defeats the aim of a low-profile keyboard.)
The switches are easy, self-lubricating, and have a journey of two.8mm. That’s quite a bit longer than the 1mm or so that you get on a MacBook, nevertheless it’s significantly shorter than the 4mm or extra a full-height mechanical change may need. In consequence, I backside out much more when typing on the Circulation than I do on my different mechanical boards. However it’s nonetheless extra satisfying than typing on a Magic Keyboard, and the Circulation has a dampened really feel that reduces harshness because of the froth and gaskets inside it.
The Circulation has another perks and options, like RGB underglow lighting and white backlighting. The operate row on the prime helps media, quantity, and different controls on my Mac as anticipated, and you may pair as much as three gadgets to the keyboard over Bluetooth and change between them at will, or you need to use it wired by means of a USB-C cable. The Circulation lacks the two.4GHz wi-fi possibility that plenty of different keyboards are providing now, making it much less ultimate for severe gaming when wi-fi. Lofree claims the two,000mAh battery will last as long as 40 hours between prices, and it takes about three hours to completely cost the board.
Some won’t like the truth that the Circulation doesn’t have adjustable ft to vary its 3.9-degree typing angle, however since I by no means tilt my keyboard up, I haven’t missed them. The a number of layers of froth and gaskets contained in the Circulation make it sound good with out the necessity to crack it open and modify it. I actually am impressed with how this keyboard sounds: it’s marble-y and dense, with out a budget, clacky sound I’ve skilled on different pre-built low-profile keyboards. Equally, the typing really feel is stable however cushioned because of the gasket mounting system (an obvious first for a low-profile keyboard). It provides a few of my full-height customized boards a run for his or her (appreciable) cash.
As a result of the Circulation is made out of aluminum and never plastic like plenty of different low-profile keyboards, it’s heavier than anticipated, which could make touring with it a bit cumbersome. However that 1.25lb (568g) weight mixed with the grippy rubber ft on the underside retains it planted at my desk after I’m hammering away on the keys, and it doesn’t slide round in any respect.
I don’t know if I’m completely offered on low-profile keyboards, however I can say that I do like this one. After all, it nonetheless comes with compromises in customizability and a hefty price ticket: at $160, this could be the costliest low-profile board I’ve come throughout. Keychron and Nuphy are common producers that cost about $120 to $130 for his or her comparable low-profile boards. However each of these firms primarily use plastic all through, and neither matches the extent of construct high quality, design, and typing really feel I’ve skilled on the Circulation.
I take that again, I’m offered: I simply ordered a Circulation of my very own.