OnePlus unveils its first mechanical keyboard: Mac structure, customized switches

OnePlus is lastly able to element its first mechanical keyboard. No, we did not want one other firm to begin making mechanical keyboards. However if you happen to’re in search of a brand new Bluetooth keyboard that performs notably properly with Macs, has a compact structure, and a rotary knob that appears trendy and useful, OnePlus could have another selection for you come April.

Introduced right this moment, OnePlus is leaping into the mechanical keyboard race with an odd title, the That includes Keyboard 81 Professional. The “81” refers back to the key rely, whereas “Professional” is assumably meant to make employees and energy customers suppose the keyboard’s an excellent match; however the title does not fairly roll off the tongue. The outlier right here is the “That includes” bit, which refers back to the OnePlus That includes “co-creation” platform that builds merchandise based mostly off person suggestions. Group customers are mentioned to have contributed to the 81 Professional’s design, together with its proprietary switches. OnePlus’ press launch right this moment claimed it’s going to launch “many” extra That includes merchandise.

OnePlus-y touches include a logo-stamped Esc key.
Enlarge / OnePlus-y touches embody a logo-stamped Esc key.

One other big affect on the 81 Professional is keyboard-maker Keychron, which is claimed to have helped engineer the product. That features its structure, which matches the structure of the Q1 Professional that Keychron is at present crowdfunding. Along with macOS, the keyboard is meant to work with Home windows, Linux, and Android, OnePlus’ press launch mentioned. The keyboard’s product web page additionally claims assist with iOS. Much like some wi-fi Keychron keyboards, just like the Keychron K14, there is a toggle on the keyboard’s facet for switching from Mac to Home windows. Contemplating the dearth of USB-A ports amongst Macs, the Bluetooth 5.1 keyboard expenses over a USB-C to USB-C cable (there’s additionally a USB-C to USB-A adapter).

OnePlus will supply its first keyboard with “Marble-mallow” keycaps. In keeping with OnePlus’ announcement, the keycaps “produce a tender bounce in every press for final consolation, enhanced hand-feel, and optimum sturdiness.” OnePlus claimed the 81 Professional would be the first keyboard leveraging this unspecified “thermoplastic” materials, which it mentioned has an identical really feel to charging cables and wristbands. Nevertheless, till we check out these keycaps for ourselves, we’re not satisfied of the fabric’s purported advantages over that utilized in typical keycaps.

Apparently, the Marble-mallow keycaps will solely come on the keyboard if you happen to purchase it with linear switches. OnePlus mentioned the switches, referred to as Summer season Breeze, have been designed with group suggestions. Those that go for tactile (Winter Bonfire) switches will get commonplace PBT plastic keycaps. All keycaps are mentioned to be doubleshot, to stop the legends from sporting off.

OnePlus did not share any particulars about its new switches’ specs (we requested OnePlus and can replace this story if we hear again). However if you happen to do not like them, they need to be simple to take away, because the keyboard consists of hot-swappability.

The Bluetooth keyboard claims as much as 100 hours of battery life with its RGB lighting set to its lowest brightness. One draw back in comparison with a few of the greatest wi-fi mechanical keyboards is that the 81 Professional solely has one Bluetooth profile. Different cable-free keyboards can pair to a number of techniques and allow you to shortly toggle throughout related gadgets with a swap or key mixture.

We have seen a small uptick in prebuilt mechanical keyboards being attentive to sound recently. Telltales of a secular mechanical keyboard prebuilt with minimal love are rattling stabilizers, metallic pinging, and different distracting sounds. OnePlus will begin off on an excellent foot by trying to reduce these points with, much like some Keychron keyboards, a double-gasket mount that sandwiches the polycarbonate plate with 10 gaskets. There’s additionally sound-absorbing foam on the underside case and between the PCB and plate. Whereas it might have been way more attention-grabbing to see OnePlus invent its personal mechanical keyboard design as a substitute of borrowing so closely from Keychron, Keychron proved to us once we examined the Keychron Q2 that it is aware of tips on how to scale back pesky noises.

A diagram of the 81 Pro's internals.
Enlarge / A diagram of the 81 Professional’s internals.

Those that have not used the VIA app earlier than might discover programming the keyboard’s open supply QMK firmware tedious and sluggish at first. But it surely ought to permit an identical quantity of customization, together with for the knob, to different high-end prebuilts.

OnePlus will begin accepting preorders for the 81 Professional in April. Nevertheless, we would not commit to creating a purchase order but, contemplating we nonetheless do not know the keyboard’s worth or how the Marble-mallow keycaps or new switches will compete. With its aluminum construct, key structure, and Bluetooth connectivity, nonetheless, the 81 Professional is fairly much like the Keychron Q1 Professional, which Keychron expects to promote for $199.

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