The Royal Kludge Keyboard — A $40 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard

I’ve been trying to convince everyone at MartianCraft that they really need to switch to a nice mechanical keyboard — rightfully many began asking which is the best Bluetooth mechanical board. Which is funny, because the serious mechanical keyboard market seems vehemently opposed to such an idea. However, it had been some time since I looked into it, and all I really knew is that the Matias Laptop Pro is ugly and huge, so that it was out.

That’s when I ran across this keyboard, listed on Amazon for $39.99 with Prime shipping. No, really, look:

So, it’s $40, mechanical, and wireless. Which is an insane value for the mechanical keyboard, or really a wireless keyboard. So what is it?

Specs

The keyboard uses Bluetooth 3.0, which means it can connect, or be paired with, three devices at once (you have to switch which one, which is done on the function layer). It has a backlight (the white model has an ice blue backlight).

And it has “blue switches”. The stems are the Cherry MX stems, which is the plus style, with a blue color. I didn’t realize it was blue when I got it, but typing on it, it very much has a blue sound to it. I don’t have another blue switch around to compare against, but my memory tells me this is a much lighter press than a Cherry MX Blue, but it’s probably pretty close. The sound alone sure is.

The keyboard itself is a 60% keyboard with a function layer which is well labeled on the keys for users. However, this is a Windows only layout, thus there’s not flipping of the Windows and Alt keys for Mac users — that aside, the keyboard works just fine on iOS.

Reality of Use

I really didn’t expect to like this keyboard as much as I did, but as I suspected it also won’t be replacing any of my other keyboards that I use daily. Here’s a few notes worth mentioning about it.

  • Power Saving is aggressive on this keyboard. It seems to turn itself off if not used within a minute. It fired back up quickly, but this can add about a second or so of lag when it goes into power save before you can use it again.
  • That said, I’d peg it at about a work week of battery life. I certainly never felt it was shy on battery life, and that’s definitely thanks to the aggressive power saving.
  • The backlight has a lot of “fun” modes. You can have a normal backlight on, or you can have all sorts of very distracting ripple effects. I don’t know why those are popular, but worth mentioning I guess.
  • The lack of key programming is annoying. I really wish I could swap the Windows and Alt key positions, but alas you cannot. There is no programming on this keyboard. However, I do find that it is laid our really well otherwise.
  • Connecting to devices has a bit of a Bluetooth lag and would likely be faster if it were 4.0 instead of 3, that said it’s about a half second or so to connect to any device.
  • There’s some interesting layer locks on the functions built in. So for example you can lock it so the arrow keys are on, with the only real downside being needing to use the function key to do a forward slash or question mark, but this is very handy in certain circumstances. There’s a few other modes for locking on the ‘home’ set of keys, but I found the arrow key lock to be very handy and not so much the others.
  • Moving between devices is pretty fast, making it a decent keyboard if you want a keyboard switch type of setup.

Overall

I don’t know if I mentioned this above, but the fucking keyboard is $40 and that’s absurdly cheap. So I would contend this might be the best $40 keyboard. I might contend it’s the best mechanical keyboard at under $60. Put those together and it’s one hell of a deal.

More than that though, this is a really solid keyboard. If the switches weren’t blue switches I probably would use the piss out of this keyboard. As it is, I’m keeping mine and it will serve as a backup and occasional extra keyboard (sometimes I use two on my desk for reasons). I even ordered some better looking keys to put on it.

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Article Details

Published
by Ben Brooks
4 minutes to read.


tl;dr

A $40 keyboard that I expected to be crap, but turns out I am impressed with it.