On Keyboards

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For almost a decade I’ve carried around a compact Apple Bluetooth keyboard wherever I went alongside an original iPad. My original iPad still works, believe it or not, and there are a few small niches it still fills, but I replaced it earlier this year with an old model iPad Air so I could run Scrivener. Suffice it to say, I am not a cutting edge gadget dude and if something is still working I’m not likely to replace it anytime soon. That’s also why I won’t be doing many gadget posts going forward unless I suddenly find everything I write on dying.

Key phrase in that statement about not upgrading often was “if something is still working” and, though it saddens me to say it, my poor little Bluetooth keyboard finally kicked the bucket. I’m actually surprised at how long it survived being used at bars, tossed carelessly into bags, and dropped from knee height uncountable times. Hell, it weathered at least one totally-not-bar-relegated drink spill that was absolutely not a beer someone knocked onto it several years ago.

Considering its service, it was logical to immediately replace it with the exact same thing. Right?

Well, as much as that particular keyboard was miraculous in its longevity I have to admit my tastes in keyboard have changed. I spend ten plus hours a day at a keyboard, most of it is not optional and consists of composing documentation, emails people will ignore, and other mundane IT work that involves a lot of typing. A few years back I picked up a low end mechanical keyboard for my daily office use. MX Blue switches, standard layout complete with the numbed and island of misfit keys up above the arrows.

I feel the need to step aside for a moment and put a disclaimer before I continue. I’m not here to evangelize, convert, or rant about the wonders of a mechanical keyboard. It is purely personal preference, your mileage may vary. I don’t think keyboards bring about the same levels zealotry and passion as vi vs emacs, tabs vs spaces, or Windows vs Linux vs Mac. That being said, I will admit that I do have a preference for mechanical keyboards.

Disclaimer aside, I mentioned I don’t replace things without reason so my little Apple Bluetooth keyboard remained in service despite my overall keyboarding preferences having changed. Now that I have a justification for a new Bluetooth travel keyboard, however, I can look for something a little more modern and in line with my current tastes.

Except, every Bluetooth mechanical keyboard that was small enough to be considered portable had some rough trade-offs. Most of the ones I saw required you to hold fn+shift+/ to create a “?” character which is not going to work for obvious reasons. Anything that fit my requirement of “not too large for a bag” was unusable, too expensive, or it was something pretending to be mechanical that wasn’t. I was almost going to give up and just replace the Apple device when I ran across a unicorn.

For the same price as a replacement Apple Keyboard I picked up the Lofree DOT mechanical Bluetooth/Wired keyboard with Blue switches and a typewriter inspired design. I’ve had it in my possession for less than seven hours as of the moment this was typed and have already paired it to my work laptop, iPad Air and my phone just so that I can use it on whatever device I happen to have in my possession at any given time. It has some really convenient multi device shortcuts right on the keyboard to switch between devices so I felt the need to use it to its full potentials. It’s also rechargeable and has a mechanical on/off switch which is great because I’m tired of my AA batteries all being dead from random in bag key presses.

Long story short here, I have a new toy in the form of a mechanical Bluetooth keyboard that isn’t garbage and I’m stoked to use it because the scenes I’m thumb typing on my phone are tedious to go edit. I’d like to say I’ll be writing more because of this new toy, but that would be a lie since my output limitation is time based rather than motivation based.