Author Topic: Keychron K4  (Read 4355 times)

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Offline darqueskye

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Keychron K4
« on: Thu, 30 April 2020, 19:33:32 »
So after a lot of deliberation and several sleepless nights, I finally landed on the Keychron K4 with Optical blue switches. The idea was that it would make a great entry-level KB while I piece together or find something(s) nicer down the road. While it's neither perfect nor ideal, So far it's been great.

Below are my thoughts on it thus far.

1. I've heard reviewers complain that Bluetooth it's installed with is 3.0 and not 5.0. While that complaint may be valid, it paired quickly and easily with my MacBook Pro and, once my adapter finally arrived, my PC as well. So far there's negligible input lag.

2. The body, though plastic, is quite solid with minimal flex. It's got good weight to it; it's quite portable but stays in place on the desk. The overall feel to it is it's substantial and quality made.

3. The battery is great; at 4000 mAh it's the largest of all Bluetooth boards I found, so it should last quite a while between charges. This is good, since charging it could be a hassle; more on that in [7].

4. I love the 96(...%? ...key?) form factor; as a student, having the 10-key and navigational home/end/del keys are important (does anybody use pgup and pgdn anymore?). That said, I would love to move them closer to the arrow keys, similar to the KBD75 v2 layout.

On the topic of keys...

5. I have really no complaints about the switches. They may be a bit light, perhaps, and could maybe give a little more tactile and audible feedback. There doesn't seem to be any unintended noise, though; no scratchiness to be found. It's also got n-key rollover, which is pretty great.

6. The keycaps though... As reviewers have mentioned, the Keychron keycaps are very thin and don't feel that great to type on; they're very smooth and slippery. While I appreciate the price point, I would love to see it ship with at least *slightly* higher quality keycaps.
 a. I'm open to suggestions for reasonably priced backlit PBT caps, while we're here. ; )
 b. Which reminds me... Aside from rubber gaming keycaps, does anybody make arrow keys with a tactile bump or texture to them? Locating the arrows has had less of a learning curve than I'd expected, but it would be nice to have a way to locate them without having to look down.

7. In regard to the USB:
 a. The fact that they went with USB-C is nice.
 b. Why tf they located the port on the left side of the housing is beyond me, though at least the USB-C end of the cable is 90.
 c. The cable they shipped with it is inexplicably like three feet long, making it nearly useless outside of charging.

8. It's apparently fully programmable, which is also pretty great, though I've no personal experience with this yet. I did read in an LTT blog post, though, that the software they use for remapping is pretty bad, and that the Windows software requires some registry hacks. I only hope that either they release their own in-house remapping or that there's a way to flash it to use more popular mapping apps. Haven't looked into that one yet, though.

Gripes aside, so far it's a great keyboard, and it seems it'll last me a long time. If anyone's looking for an affordable, non-standard layout keyboard, I definitely recommend this one. : )

Offline Maledicted

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  • Location: Wisconsin, United States
Re: Keychron K4
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 30 April 2020, 20:17:15 »
Great review. Very well organized, with good insights.  :thumb:

I have heard the same about bluetooth keyboards. I can't say I have noticed a problem with any random Chinesium bluetooth keyboards, and I have some pretty old/cheap ones. The only thing I don't like about bluetooth devices of any kind is the hassle of pairing them, and try to avoid them as a result unless I only plan on using the board with a set group of computers.

It is good to hear that even the plastic version has some substance to it.

I have never actually used the home, end, pgup, or pgdn keys myself, lol. I probably should. Delete I use all of the time though.

I love smooth keycaps myself. To each their own. Thin ones do suck though.

I don't know much about 96% boards. I stole a list of the non-standard caps you'll need from Reddit:

    1.75u Shift
    1u Alt
    1u Ctrl
    1u Fn (sometimes this is standard)
    1u Numpad 0
    1u (but top row / R4 profile) Home, End, Pg Up, Pg Dn, Del

I have liked some YMDK sets, and they're usually cheap, and they make some 96% sets, but I haven't seen any backlit ones.

It probably doesn't suit some people's aesthetic sensibilities, but the Model F AT has no home row bumps, so what I do to all of mine is put tiny dabs of hot glue on them. You could do that with the arrow keys.

I think you said you're using this with a laptop, but they make desk grommets that are basically USB hubs. I drilled a hole in my desk and have a USB 3.0 hub with a 3.5mm headphone and mic passthrough flush with the surface of my desk. It comes in handy, and would take care of cable length issues. Good thing decent type C cables are really cheap.

I wonder how you'll think of those optical blues compared to switches on the tester you get.
« Last Edit: Thu, 30 April 2020, 22:54:35 by Maledicted »