Although pretty much anything with a USB cable will work, there aren’t a lot of mechanical keyboards designed for the Mac, whether in terms of aesthetics or functionality. I was excited to test an unusual new Mac-focused keyboard called the Lofree, then, because it ticks quite a few boxes in a way that makes it like nothing else on the market.
Here are some of those boxes:
- Mac layout
- Gateron Blue switches
- Typewriter-style circular keycaps
- Comes in red; matches my furniture
The Lofree is entirely built from plastic, but feels very solid and sturdy. Its most distinctive element is, of course, the array of circular keys arranged like a honeycomb. This combination of typewriter retro and chunky modernity is, at least to my eyes, super cute and instantly makes the Lofree something I want to put on my desk — not something I would say about the vast majority of mechanical keyboards.
It works well enough, too. Bluetooth setup is simple, and you can switch between up to three devices at once; Windows support comes via a switch on the side that lets you use the top row of media keys as traditional function keys. The only functional quirk I ran into was that I had to press FN-F1/2 in order to adjust the brightness on my LG UltraFine 4K monitor, as opposed to just pressing the F1/2 brightness keys on Apple’s Magic Keyboard.
I only had to charge the Lofree a few times during my few weeks with it. That’s still more than the Magic Keyboard, which lasts me several weeks, but Apple’s option doesn’t have backlighting and that’s what tends to be the big power draw on keyboards. The Lofree charges over a Micro USB port on the right-hand side, and comes with an L-shaped cable for a neater desk. I’d have preferred the cable to be on the back in the first place, but this works.
I absolutely cannot type on this thing
I’m sorry to report, however, that while I do love the Lofree and it does work entirely as advertised, it’s already made its way off my desk. This is because I absolutely cannot type on the thing. The blue switches feel like blue switches, and I like blue switches — it’s just that I can’t get used to the circular keycaps. It’s almost impossible to press one without touching another in some way, even if you hit it right in the center, and this never stopped feeling uncomfortable for extended use.
Also, just look at this arrow key situation:
So the Lofree’s most distinctive feature is one that ultimately dooms it as a product that I could use full-time. I’m a writer, after all, and much as I may care about dinky design and clicky keys, I do need to be able to write on any keyboard that’s going to stick around on my desk.
Your fingers may feel differently, however, and even if they don’t I wouldn’t write the Lofree off altogether. Its compact, attractive, wireless design and ability to switch between devices makes it perfect as a keyboard you can leave out on display and use around the house for light tasks. I might not be able to use the Lofree on my desk for fast or lengthy writing, but I enjoyed it a lot more when paired to my iPad or the PC hooked up to my TV.
The Lofree launches on Indiegogo today for $74, but it’s already in production — you’ll be able to get it from retailers like Amazon for $99 from June.