Welcome to the Keychron K3 ongoing review that is updated weekly when possible. In general, every review on any product seems to be based over a course of time yet there is the missing in between element of more details of what the user is doing with the product.
What is this product?
Touted as World's First Hot-Swappable Low Profile Optical Wireless Mechanical Keyboard from their website and it's incredibly flat for what it is.
This keyboard is 75% layout meaning you will get:
- Ultra slim layout with aluminum frame
- Function Keys and additional keys such as change LED patterns, Function key, Page Up/Down and Home / End.
- Hot swappable option (optical or gateron switches), bluetooth / USB C cable.
The keyboard comes with optical brown switches and has a rather pleasant clicky sounds to it if not a little 'clunk' in some areas. It could be down to the typing where the fingers heavily or lightly touching the keys. The previous keyboard before is the Coolermaster TKL Cherry MX brown switches which requires force to push.
The quirks of ASCII layout
Keyboards in the United Kingdom are generally ISO GB layout which is the defacto, once the american keyboard comes flooding in, there are some general quirks such as the Enter key becoming a long single key, with back slash / pipe symbol above it, along with tilde symbol sitting between the tab and esc keys. Muscle memory be damned.
Mistakes will be made throughout the first week in terms (in no order)
- Accidentally hitting the change LED pattern 'light bulb' key where it gets really fancy. Sometimes it is too much and deserve a key remapping!
- Hitting the left shift feels weird for a few hours expecting where is the back slash / pipe symbol.
- Introduced a few whacky symbols into the code which was my own doing!
- Never pair bluetooth to Windows. The first ten minutes resulted into an annoying latency that was often tiny to be detected.
- Muscle memory training can be a right pain.
After the first hour of making simple mistakes, the temptation to pack it back into the box yet this is going to be the main driver for two solid weeks. The solution? Move the keyboard slightly to where the spacebar line LED shines where your left thumb covers it up completely and away I went typing at a solid speed that I enjoy.
One week review in short - 14/03/2021
Overall, it's an impressive little keyboard and the price seems to be bang in the middle. The opportunity to hot swap the switches is intriguing to try with mechanical and optical options. The clicky sounds over the week has gotten a whole lot of satisfaction around the edge. Are you from the Apple crowd who likes flat keyboards yet want something mechanical? This will definitely be right up your street.
The slight downside is that the brown optical switches can be a little too sensitive depending if you are fat-finger error the keys, wondering where the british pound symbol, hash key, and generally being a right pain. In general, take your time to learn and understand the hardware quirks because that is what makes different and unusual keyboard so much fun to use.
More on this keyboard next week as we head into week two of typing.
Second week review - 21/03/2021
Looking back at this review from the first week and thinking how much of a progress was made. I would say it is more or less the same because I have jumped to three different keyboards which was out of my control at the time. Since the Keychron K3 is my daily driver, switch to the Mac's GB layout causes the backslash and pipe symbol to show up repeatedly via the right ring finger and pinkie tapping expecting the long return key to be there.
Another issue is the light symbol at the top right of the keyboard, was hit a couple of times causing light effects to change. Intriguing enough, the habit of hitting the 'delete' key next to that key forced the idea to not to rely on deleting anything if possible. Changing habits per keyboard is another matter!
Recently the USB hub that was connected to the USB-C dongle has been failing lately forcing to switch from cable to bluetooth. The hope of "there's a latency issue" immediately vanished from the first five minutes and it was snappier than before.
The hunt is on looking for a decent keycap set to see what's what can fit.
Two months later - 30/05/2021
It came to my attention that three of the switches has started to produce "the spongy effect" when typing. Unfortunately, the keys affected was the 'end' and right arrow key. Not a problem to replace, although there should be a warning on handling Keychron's optical switches because they are fragile and fell apart once removed from the board. Luckily, there is a bag of additional switches on hand to replace.
In that amount of time since the last update, it was time to clean the keyboard to see how well it has held up. Surprisingly, it was fairly okay! There was a little amount of dust, a few crumbs, and the odd hair / cats hairs. This was expected because the keyboard is completely 'open' which meant it is easier to clean out certain bits comparing to the other keyboard that has around 0.5" 'well' where it meant some additional cleaning.
The keyboard light key is still an annoyance on and off. The chances of hitting that key by mistake has reduced and none of the settings really pleases me as it is purely eye candy. Either have the light on or off is far easier to maintain!
One year-ish later - 23/04/2021
There has been a steady frustration with the keyboard in terms of making clumsy mistakes which seems to be affecting my cognitive way of coding. I found out the switches are sensitive at the slight touch and the keycaps are flimsy. Because of this, the decision was made to put it up for sale which was sold within days on eBay.
It is certainly an interesting keyboard to use yet let down on the incredible sensitive switches. There was an discussion that nearly all the switches (red, blue, brown, etc) are too having similar issues.
Mechanical low profile switches still have some way off at this point.