If you like mechanical keyboards, you love mechanical keyboards. Their clickety-clack action is way more positive than the soft, short travel of any MacBook or Magic Keyboard, and once you get used to them everything else seems squishy. It’s like driving a big American boat-like sedan after spending a week driving a hard-riding European sports car. The problem is, unlike a vintage Porsche or a Ferrari, the average mechanical keyboard has the looks of a corporate pool car. The Lofree keyboard, on the other hand, looks fantastic.
The retro-modern Lofree keyboard
The Lofree, currently seeking funding on Indiegogo, is clearly inspired by a mechanical typewriter, right down to the circular keys, but it skips the ridiculous retro stylings of some similar keyboard. The Penna keyboard, for example, uses a misplaced carriage-return lever to trigger extra functions, but why use that instead of a key or a knob? Or what about the Qwerkywriter, a full fetish-gadget with no real practical use?
In comparison to these absurdities, the Lofree looks positively modern. It is also better than many other mechanical keyboards because it has a proper Mac key layout, with the Command and Option keys in their proper places, as well as a function key, and media keys in the top row. I use a Filco Majestouch keyboard that’s meant for Windows, but with a few key swaps and software tweaks, it works perfectly with a Mac.
iOS and Mac-friendly
What it doesn’t work with is an iPad. Or rather it does, but it works like a Windows keyboard, with Command and Option reversed. The Lofree keyboard can be used in a Mac-and-iOS-specific configuration, which means that you can use it with any Apple device without any odd hacks. In fact, there’s a hardware switch on the side which switched between Apple and Windows/Android settings. I wonder why more keyboards don’t do this.
The Lofree comes in four colors, inspired by the seasons, says the blurb. It can connect via USB or Bluetooth, and has a redesigned physical layout compared to the original version. Finally, the keys are backlit, which is a nice (and too-rare) touch for an external mechanical keyboard.
The price of one Lofree keyboard is $139, but the minimum pledge to win one from Indiegogo is $74, which looks like it could be a great deal. Just watch out for the shift keys. Cult of Mac’s own Killian Bell has tried out the original Lofree and found that he kept hitting the arrow key instead of the right-shift key.