Mechanical keyboard specialist Keychron has launched a Kickstarter for its first keyboard with Hall effect switches, the Keychron Q1 HE. A fully assembled model costs $214 if bought as part of the Kickstarter, and there’s also a bare-bones model available without switches or keycaps for $194.
Compared to traditional mechanical switches, Hall effect switches are notable for being analog and thus able to tell the difference between a slight and full press of each key. So with the Q1 HE, you can take advantage of this by customizing how far you want to press each key before it actuates, and there’s also a “rapid trigger” feature that’s able to register a keypress the second you re-press a key — rather than having to lift up past the reset point. If you want to get really fancy, you can even assign as many as four commands to the same key to take advantage of this analog sensitivity.
Keychron isn’t the first keyboard manufacturer to use Hall effect switches, which have previously appeared in models from Wooting, SteelSeries, and Corsair. But it’s notable when Keychron is making some of the best mechanical keyboards around, meaning the Q1 HE has the potential to combine great typing feel with an exhaustive set of Hall effect-powered features.
Customizing the analog features of the Keychron Q1 HE is done via Keychron’s web app, which can also handle other key remapping duties. That’s a departure from the excellent Via app that Keychron’s keyboards typically work with, and it remains to be seen if Keychron’s software can match Via’s power and ease of use.
The Q1 HE can be used either wired or wirelessly, and if you’re going down the wireless route then there’s the option of connecting via Bluetooth or with an included 2.4GHz USB dongle. The latter offers a responsive 1,000Hz polling rate, while Bluetooth benefits from being able to connect to up to three devices.
In terms of construction, the Q1 HE hues close to Keychron’s existing Q1 Pro. It uses a compact 75-percent layout with a fully aluminum case and gasket-mounted construction. Its keycaps are made of durable double-shot PBT and use Keychron’s own retro-styled OSA profile, and it comes equipped with PCB-mounted screw-in stabilizers. Its linear Gateron 2.0 Magnetic switches are technically hot-swappable, but you’ll only be able to replace them with other Hall effect switches. It’s equipped with a volume knob, obviously, as well as south-facing RGB backlighting on each key.
The Keychron Q1 HE is available to back on Kickstarter now, and the company expects to start shipping keyboards to backers in February before selling them through its own online store.