Keychron K6: The keyboard we are most excited about in 2020

Keychron K6: Keyboard we are most excited about in 2020

If you stay up-to-date on the newest mechanical keyboard releases, then should already be excited about the Keychron K6. If not, we’re going to go over all the features and explain why this keyboard is the one we are most excited about for 2020.

What is the Keychron K6?

The Keychron K6 is a 65% sized keyboard, which means it does not come with a numberpad or the very top row that comes on standard keyboards. The overall design is very similar to the Keychron K2, but instead of being a tenkeyless layout (meaning no number pad), the K6 it is scaled down to smaller, more bit-sized 65% layout.

Exciting Features

Keychron K6
Photo from Kickstarter page.

The K6 is absolutely packed with features and Keychron has made it possible to customize many parts of the keyboard including the base, backlight, and switch type. The keyboard has both Bluetooth wirless and wired options.

We’ll breakdown each feature a bit more below.

Base Material

Loaded with features, the K6 and allows you to customize whether you want a lighter, cheaper plastic base or a more sturdy, pricey aluminum base. The aluminum base will give the keyboard a more solid feel and may be better if you plan on primary keeping the keyboard in one place.

The plastic base is a few ounces lighter and is better if you plan on using the wireless capability more or want to take it on the go. The lighter weight makes the keyboard easier to carry and more portable.

Overall, the aluminum base will cost about $10 more.

RGB/White Backlight

Are you a fan of RGB lighting? This seems to be a friction point amongst many keyboard enthusiasts. Some tend to love different color backlighting options, while others tend to find the extra lights distracting and feel as though it cheapens the look of the keyboard.

Well, with the Keychron K6, you will have the option to choose between RGB or white backlight options.

Whether you want a sleeker, “Apple store” type-look with white backlighting or a more exciting light-show style of keyboard, the choice is up to you.

It’s worth noting the RGB backlight comes with 18 different backlight effects, so there is something there for everyone.

Apple/Windows Compatibility

Mac users, this is your time to rejoice. Like the K2, this keyboard will have full compatibility with Apple products. There is a sliding button located on the side of the keyboard to activate whether the keyboard will be used with an Apple or Windows computer.

There are also Mac multimedia keys available for purchase as well.

This will make the keyboard run smoother with both operating systems and give the user a better experience, regardless which one they use.

Bluetooth Wireless

Keychron K6 battery life
Photo from Kickstarter page

Being able to connect to, and toggle between 3 devices makes the wireless capability of this keyboard quite powerful. A more impressive feature is the 4000 mAh battery.

This battery can last up to 4 weeks without a charge, if you’re not using the backlight, making it one of the longest lasting wireless keyboards on the market.

If you are constantly on the go, or just find constantly plugging in your keyboard to be a hassle, imagine only having to plug your keyboard in once or twice a month. That’s what the K6 is capable of.

Optical/Hotswappable Switches

If you’ve bought a mechanical keyboard before and picked out a switch you could not stand, to swap them out you would need to disassemble the entire keyboard, then de-solder and remove the old switches.

After that, you would have to install and re-solder the new switches. This can be an extremely time-consuming project for someone relatively new to soldering.

My favorite feature of the K6 is the choice of getting hotswappable switches. It’s easier than ever to swap out keyboard switches. Without having to solder a single switch, all you need to do is pull out the old switches with a switch puller, and press the new ones into the PCB.

The K6 comes with a variety of switch types, including LK optical, Gateron hotswappable, and standard Gateron switches; coming in brown, blue and red colors. The variety of switches really let you choose what sort of feel you want to go for, whether that be linear, clicky, or silent.

Other features

The power cable is a detachable USB-C, which is always nice to see. The USB-C is smaller than the other power cable types and is reversible so it’s easier to install. No need to constantly flip the head around, trying to figure out which side faces up.

Adjustable rubber feet angles are also included, so you can incline the keyboard by 6 degrees if you enjoy your keyboard at a slight incline.

There is also 12 multimedia keys included in this keyboard that are available for use.

A keycap puller is also included, which makes removing keycaps much easier.

Random keyboard close-up

Price

Since there are so many different customization options, the K6 has several different price points. The general price range for this keyboard is $69-90. There are also options to bundle and purchase more than one keyboard for a better deal.

The K6 is a mid-range priced keyboard, and is great for those looking for a good pound to pound deal.

For a more detailed price breakdown, I would recommend you check out the Kickstarter page here.

Possible Issues

The main complaint from the K2 TKL model, are that the keys were a bit too high up and caused some discomfort in the wrist area. To alleviate this, many people said they needed to use a wrist pad. We’re hoping the K6 keys will be slightly closer to the desk to fix this issue, but there is no information about that change happening at this time.

Keychron is predicting they may have some trouble with global shipping and warehouse logistics. So there is chance that some products will be delayed or not ship on time.

If you’re concerned about late shipping, I would recommend contacting the Keychron to get more information.

Where can I buy the Keychron K6?

The Keychron K6 is currently available on Kickstarter. The project has already surpassed the pledge goal of $50,000 and is sitting at a comfortable $230,000. Keep in mind backing a product on Kickstarter can be risky, so I would only do it if you are really excited about the K6.

I personally backed this project because I believe this keyboard will be great product and Keychron has proven in the past they can be trusted. I would just caution everyone out there, including myself to be a little weary when it comes to backing projects on Kickstarter with real money.

A couple of cool pledge milestones are if $300,000 is pledged in total, they will include an extra orange light effect key.

At $400,000+ pledged, the power cable will be braided.

You can expect the product to be assembled and complete by March and arrive at your doorstep in April.

Wrapping Up

As you can see the K6 is loaded with features, and will make a nice addition to our collection of keyboards. Similar in a lot of ways to the K2, the K6 is a more compact, lighter, and exciting 65% keyboard.

I hope you enjoyed this newer style of post where we talk about which products we are exited for, instead of reviewing a physical product. Of course, when the Keychron K6 arrives in the mail, I’ll make sure to review the product for you all ASAP.

And, as always, happy typing!

If you don’t feel like reading, check out the video below.

Why Mechanical Keyboards are here to stay

Why mechanical keyboards are here to stay
Keyboard from /u/crzone

As of 2020, mechanical keyboards are widely used by a variety of gamers, typists, programmers, and enthusiasts. And although mechanical keyboards have been adopted by these groups of people, unfortunately, we have not seen mechanical keyboards make their way into the main stream yet. Most people still use a standard membrane keyboard or scissor-switch keyboard.

If you were to walk into a standard American office there would be very few, if any, mechanical keyboards. Most people don’t own them and if you were to ask the average person what a mechanical keyboard is, they would have no idea.

Due to how expensive the production and assembly process of mechanical keyboards is, it’s hard to imagine the majority of the population using them. Fortunately, we have been seeing a lot of companies make great strides at reducing the cost of mechanical keyboards.

Mechanical Keyboards are getting cheaper

I’m sure there are many people out there who have looked at buying a mechanical keyboard at some point in their life but couldn’t justify the $100 price tag for a keyboard that basically did the same thing as a $30 one. Without looking too closely at the differences, they would never know how much better a mechanical keyboard is.

Well, now there are more companies producing mechanical keyboards than ever before. Companies such as HyperX have only recently started building their own keyboard product lines. And as the keyboard market gets more saturated and competitive, the prices of the product will start to go down making the market more accessible to people who aren’t willing to splurge on their keyboard.

Cherry Viola switch
Cherry Viola switch

There has also been a push by many companies to make more inexpensive switches. Cherry recently released a new switch, the Cherry Viola, to try and compete with rubber dome and hybrid style keyboards. By making them hot-swappable and solder-free, it will make them easier to remove and use by people who may not have the necessary soldering skills otherwise.

Over time I think we’ll see more aggressive moves by several mechanical keyboard manufacturers to attempt to claim a larger percentage of the general keyboard market share.

The Rise of Esports and Twitch

The world is at a pretty exciting time where Esports is growing at such a rapid rate, it’s on track to eventually surpass traditional professional sports such as baseball and hockey. And in some Asian counties such as South Korea and China, Esports is an even bigger deal. With no end to it’s growth in sight, we’re going to continually see the number of gamers increase.

Esports

The gaming industry is the absolutely the biggest market and drives the sales of the majority of mechanical keyboards. By improving reliability and performance, mechanical keyboards give competitive gamers the edge they might need to be a millisecond faster than their opponent. If you look at any shopping site, you can tell by the dark keyboards offset by bright RGB backlighting that they are attempting to attract the gaming demographic.

Plus who doesn’t want to own the same keyboard as their favorite streamer or professional player?

More people work at desks

There are several benefits to typing on mechanical keyboard such as improved tactile feedback, less chance of rollover, and a much longer lifespan than other keyboard types. With more people working at desks than ever before and the increase in people working at software developer jobs, were going to see an increase in the number of people who care about the quality of their keyboard and typing experience.

Many software engineers prefer mechanical keyboards since they feel better and because mechanical keyboards offer more customization regarding to programmable keys, ergonomics, and switch types. Over all, these can improve efficiency and make for a enjoyable time at work.

Projected growth

Rocket ship represents market growth of mechanical keyboards

A study recently publish by Market Research Future predicts a growth in the total market share of mechanical keyboards from $705 million in 2017 to $1.36 billion by 2023. That’s a projected growth of almost double over the span of six years. Now try to imagine the growth by 2030 and beyond. It is hard to see a future where mechanical keyboards won’t still be around and if I had to guess, they will be much more mainstream and commonplace.

Conclusion

Although there is a lack of knowledge among the populace about the world of mechanical keyboards, there is something inherently satisfying about sitting down and pressing a button that makes a clicking sound.

Perhaps it’s the monkey instant-gratification system hardwired into our brains that makes it so enjoyable. I would make the wager that anyone would enjoy a mechanical keyboard over the keyboards currently mass-produced at scale.

The quality and user experience speak for itself and I believe that’s a big reason the keyboards are already so commonly used. With cheaper prices, the red-hot gaming industry, and increasingly sedentary workforce, the usage of mechanical keyboards will be increasing at a rapid pace over the next decade. And I can say one thing for certain, they won’t be going anywhere.

Silent Anne Pro 2
Anne Pro 2 from /u/Shanghai_Shark

Switches for everyone: Cherry announces Viola mechanical switches

What are Cherry Viola switches?

Cherry Viola switches are mechanical switches that are for more budget mechanical keyboards. Cherry’s goal is to replace many keyboards that are currently used by most people that have rubber dome switches. Their intent is to offer high-quality, durable, and more ergonomic switches than what is being used out there today at a low-cost price. Sounds too good to be true, right? Let’s dive in further.

cherry viola switch
Photo from: https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/10/
cherry-goes-downmarket-with-its-new-viola-mechanical-keyboard-switches/

Introducing Cherry Viola Switches

Everyone wants to use mechanical switches, or at least everyone that knows about them wants to use them. What about for everyday consumers that type once in awhile?

Cherry just introduced their new Viola switches at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2020.

Cherry’s MX switches have been the go-to switches for most gaming keyboards, especially big companies such as Corsair, MSI, and Alienware to name a few. For many keyboard enthusiasts, there are a ton of switch options out there.

When I first started looking at switches, they were always compared to Cherry MX switches. Like how Razer Greens feel like Cherry MX Blues. Or like how Halo Clears feel like Cherry MX reds but harder to press.

Cherry MX switches can range from $27 to $49 for a pack of 70 switches. This will cover a 60% keyboard.

They have added benefits over rubber dome keyboards in the sense that they offer keycap mounting, hot-swappability, and RGB lighting.

Specifications on the switch

The new VIOLA switches have a total distance of 4mm with an actuation point at 2mm, like other Cherry MX switches.

The VIOLA switch is a crosslinear switch that is unlike MX-style switch categories. Some articles have said they are similar to the linear reds and others have said they feel like browns. We’ll just have to wait to find out.

It uses a new contact system called “V-shape Contact System. It is a self-cleaning brass contact that the switch stem will glide on. When the switch is pressed, the contact system will allow for actuation halfway through the travel distance.

It has an actuation force of 45g, the same as the Cherry MX reds. Cherry is telling people to not make any comparisons to the MX switches though, these even get their own names that are VERY different from the MX colors.

At the end of the travel distance, the spring force is up at 75g. That is heavy. This is good though because on linear switches, it’s hard to tell when the switch actuated, so many times when I type on linear switches, I tend to bottom out to make sure my keypress registered.

With a heavy bottoming out force, you’ll know that you’ve reached and passed actuation and do not need to press any further. It’ll save your fingers from fatigue and give you some feedback of actuation, although not a tactile one.

The upper housing of the switch is see-through and allows illumination through the switches if the PCB has RGB lighting on it. Visually, from the pictures, the lighting looks fantastic.

These switches will be made in Germany with high-quality checks alongside all of Cherry’s other switches.

Benefits of budget switches

I’m very excited for these budget switches because price is a huge barrier to people who do not intend to use their keyboard often throughout the day or don’t even use a keyboard in general.

For kids or students who are getting their first computer, the get to experience typing on a higher quality switch for an affordable price for the parents.

Someday, it would be amazing for the keyboards that come with HP or Dell computers to have mechanical keyboards included in them. Or maybe just a few keys with the switches. Give the people a small taste of the wild side.

It says that these switches are meant for keyboards between $50 and $100. Hoping that these will be mainstream keyboards (things like the Logitech MK540) and not small companies that make mechanical keyboards with brands that no one knows.

Questions for the future

Some questions that arise include the compatibility of these switches with PCBs.

A big feature that Cherry listed is that these switches can be hot-swapped with PCBs that offer this function. Does this mean that the Viola switches are plate-mounted?

I’ve read that “the switch offers hot-swap functionality and can be easily replaced or removed from the keyboard.” I’m still a newbie at this, but I think the hot-swappability of a switch depends on the PCB, does it not? If I’m wrong, correct me here.

But I thought that all Cherry MX switches and most Gateron switches can be hot-swapped as long as the keyboard you are putting them in supports that function. If not, then you’ll still need to solder the switches onto the PCB.

It seems that these switches might be more competitive with imitation MX-style switches such as Oetemu or Gateron rather than compete in the rubber dome market. For a keyboard that is around $50-$80, there are many good mechanical keyboard options that are already on the market, although they do not have the Cherry name to them. How will Cherry plan to compete with the mainstream market?

So some possibilities include that rather than replacing the rubber dome switches that everyone knows about, it might be that Cherry will be taking out some online competitors and overseas manufacturers such as Redragon, DIERYA, Havit, and other budget mechanical keyboard manufacturers. We shall see.

Recap video
cherry viola switches on the switch and click, background is white backlit keyboard

Sources

CHERRY VIOLA: High-precision mechanical key switch for premium mainstream keyboards. Hardwareheaven.com

Cherry MX Red Input.club

Cherry goes downmarket with its new Viola mechanical keyboard switches Techcrunch.com

Cheap mechanical gaming keyboards are coming… thanks to Cherry’s Viola switch PCGamesN.com