Till not too long ago, Keychron was finest identified for its line of (comparatively) inexpensive wi-fi mechanical keyboards with good quality-of-life options like Mac compatibility. Then, in 2021, got here the Keychron Q1, the primary of over a dozen Q-series keyboards with a weighty aluminum development, a customizable structure and switches, and nice typing really feel. They’re among the many finest off-the-shelf keyboards you may get for the cash.
This 12 months’s Keychron Q1 Professional looks like a wedding of those two traces. It has the identical nice development, customizability, and typing really feel because the Q1 however with Bluetooth connectivity that’s each bit as dependable and easy-to-use as Keychron’s extra inexpensive keyboards. Keychron already made good premium keyboards and good wi-fi keyboards — now you may get each in the identical gadget.
At $199 (or $179 with no keycaps or switches), the Q1 Professional remains to be comparatively expensive. However contemplating that’s simply $20 greater than a equally specced wired Q1, with no actual downsides, I feel it’s the plain alternative even for individuals who plan to make use of it as a wired keyboard more often than not.
Keychron was initially taking preorders for the Q1 Professional through its Kickstarter, however it’s now out there to preorder immediately from Keychron, with delivery anticipated in April.
You’d be forgiven for mistaking the Q1 Professional for the unique Q1 at first look. Each keyboards use a compact laptop-style 75 p.c structure, with a programmable quantity dial on the highest proper (on the Q1, this dial was non-compulsory, however right here it’s commonplace). Just like the Q1, the Q1 Professional weighs in at round 4 kilos, which suggests it’s far too heavy to be the sort of wi-fi keyboard that may be simply chucked in a backpack and used whereas on the go. Each have hot-swap switches, are absolutely customizable with VIA, and have gasket-mounted plates.
Look nearer, nonetheless, and the variations change into extra obvious. Across the high of the keyboard, you’ll discover that the Q1’s bodily Mac / Home windows structure toggle swap has been joined by a second for hopping between Wired and Bluetooth modes or to show the keyboard off completely, in addition to a small plastic-covered cutout within the aluminum body to enhance wi-fi reception.
Wi-fi connectivity is the massive new function for the Q1 Professional, and truthfully, I battle to fault it. All through my month of utilizing the keyboard over Bluetooth with a Macbook Air, I didn’t expertise any connectivity points in any respect. As a take a look at, I additionally tried strolling round my house typing on the keyboard, and its connection held up simply high quality from different rooms and even downstairs. The keyboard can save connections to as much as three units, which is good if you wish to shortly use it to shortly sort a response to a message in your cellphone earlier than swapping again to your pc. It had no downside swapping between my laptop computer and cellphone in my checks.
The one grievance I’ve about wi-fi efficiency is that Bluetooth is your solely possibility. That’s in distinction to different related keyboards just like the Epomaker TH80, which features a small 2.4GHz USB dongle to make use of as an alternative choice to Bluetooth. Dongles like these are helpful in case your primary PC doesn’t have a Bluetooth receiver, and firms like Corsair, Razer, and Logitech use them to supply a better polling charge than what’s out there over Bluetooth.
However, with the Keychron Q1 Professional, Bluetooth is all you get. Which means you’re caught with a glacial 90Hz polling charge when utilizing the keyboard wirelessly, which isn’t nice for fast-paced video games. Outdoors of video games, nonetheless, I didn’t really feel any lag whereas utilizing the keyboard, and you may at all times plug it in through USB to get a extra conventional 1000Hz polling charge.
Battery life is superb when utilizing the keyboard wirelessly — as long as you’re ready to reside with out RGB lighting. With the RGB lighting at its default setting, I acquired 4 work days out of the Q1 Professional’s 4,000mAh battery and one further day after the lighting routinely turned off to save lots of energy. So that you’re successfully taking a look at every week of use when utilizing RGB. However flip the lighting off completely, and the keyboard retains going for over a month. I final charged this keyboard six weeks in the past, and it nonetheless claims to have 20 p.c battery life remaining. Keychron says the keyboard presents 300 hours of battery life with the backlighting turned off, which interprets to round seven and a half weeks of use, assuming you employ the keyboard eight hours a day for 5 days every week.
RGB lighting and wi-fi keyboards are by no means an incredible pairing, however you’re not lacking out on an excessive amount of, given the Q1 Professional isn’t actually constructed to point out it off. It’s outfitted with strong, sturdy, double-shot PBT keycaps that don’t have any clear components to let gentle shine by, so one of the best you may hope for is to see some RGB lighting across the sides of every key. There’s no funky underglow or LED strips across the outdoors of the keyboard like we noticed with Drop’s Sense75. Personally, I used to be comfortable to go away it turned off completely for the sake of battery life.
Within the field there’s a USB-C cable and USB-C to USB-A adapter for wired connectivity. There’s additionally an additional set of Home windows keycaps to make use of if that’s your working system of alternative (the Mac caps are preinstalled however simply eliminated), a keycap puller, Allen key, screwdriver, and a few spare elements like screws, rubber ft, and gaskets. This can be a keyboard that’s designed to be opened up and tweaked in the event you’re into that form of factor.
The Keychron Q1 Professional is offered with three completely different switches: tactile Keychron Ok Professional Browns, clicky Keychron Ok Professional Bananas, or linear Keychron Ok Professional Reds, which is what I had on my assessment board. These switches are five-pin, which suggests any aftermarket Cherry MX-style switches ought to match of their sockets simply high quality, and so they’re hot-swappable so you may take away them utilizing a easy pulling device relatively than needing a soldering iron. The Q1 Professional’s switches are oriented in a south-facing route, which is healthier for compatibility with aftermarket keycaps.
It’s additionally out there in three completely different colours — black, grey, and white — which every include complimentary coloured keycaps. These keycaps are in Keychron’s personal KSA profile, that are barely taller than the OSA keycaps Keychron has utilized in earlier Q-series boards and with a chunky retro look in comparison with extra commonplace Cherry-style keycaps. Personally, I may take or depart the look, however they’re completely useful and are constructed in a method that ought to hold them wanting good for years to come back.
And belief me after I say that you simply’ll need to hold typing on the Keychron Q1 Professional for years to come back as a result of this factor feels each bit as nice because the Q1 that preceded it. Just like the Q1, the Q1 Professional is a gasket-mounted keyboard, that means its swap plate is successfully suspended utilizing squishy foam contained in the keyboard’s case. That enables it a major quantity of flex while you push onerous on the keys, which can be helped by the extra versatile polycarbonate swap plate used on this mannequin. However what’s extra necessary is the smooth and lightweight feeling this development offers the keyboard whilst you’re typing usually.
Not solely does the Q1 Professional really feel nice to sort on — it additionally sounds good whilst you’re doing it. Every keypress has a pleasant full deep sound to it, and its PCB-mounted screw-in stabilizers (which sit beneath longer keys just like the spacebar to cease them from wobbling) don’t audibly rattle like with another keyboards. There’s additionally no trace of any metallic pinging sounds as you sort.
Like Kechron’s different Q-series boards, the Q1 Professional can be absolutely programmable utilizing VIA. It permits you to change what each key on the keyboard does, arrange macros, and even reprogram the amount dial. You’ll must plug the keyboard in by USB to reprogram its structure, however I discovered that VIA had no downside recognizing the keyboard, and it was a easy course of to get customizing.
The Keychron Q1 Professional is each bit as premium and well-made because the wired Q1 but in addition has the added flexibility of wi-fi. Even in the event you use it as a wired keyboard more often than not, I nonetheless suppose wi-fi is value having as a backup for the comparatively small $20 worth premium.
The one purpose you may need to keep on with a wired Q-series keyboard from Keychron is in the event you’re not a fan of the Q1 Professional’s 75 p.c structure. Though its wired Q-series keyboards can be found in every little thing from a compact 60 p.c structure to a full-size keyboard, in order for you wi-fi, then 75 p.c is (at the moment) your solely possibility. That can nearly actually change over time, however that’s not a lot assist in the event you want a keyboard proper now.
The Q1 Professional additionally isn’t an incredible alternative in the event you’re after one thing to make use of on the go along with a laptop computer or pill. You may need to think about a low-profile keyboard just like the Nuphy Air 75 or one thing with a lighter plastic development like Epomaker’s TH80 if portability is extra of a priority.
In any other case, if the Q1 Professional’s hefty development and laptop-style 75 p.c structure works for you, then it has only a few downsides. It feels nice to sort on, its connectivity and battery life are strong, it’s customizable, and it’s not exorbitantly priced. It’s a implausible mechanical keyboard.
Pictures by Jon Porter / The Verge