FOX11- Los Angeles -
I'm going to do something I never do when I write a review. I'm going to begin with the things I don't like about a product. Why do that? Because I've been so enamored with Razer's new mechanical mobile keyboard that I don't want to come off as a fanboy; admittedly, I clearly am. So, if you're a serious typist, I'll jump to the final conclusion and tell you right now to run out and go get this keyboard. The caveats are far outweighed by the positives.
The Bad News
The keyboard itself has some key placement choices which will take some getting used to, but what's more awkward in terms of placement is the kickstand. Sure, it works great as it allows you to place your iPad into the right viewing angle for you. Also, it's metal, feels real robust, like it's going to last you longer than you'll have that iPad but, it increases the footprint of your setup. You won't be opening this up on a plane tray with the keyboard attached, and those little cafe tables at Starbucks will feel even more cramped when you're keyboarding away. It's also a little finicky when you're folding it back up. You have to push it back into place with two hands and even then it doesn't always fully fold back into place.
This mechanical keyboard case is heavy! It feels extremely well built, like a tank. But, it also feels like it weighs as much as one. Often, I feel like weight assessments like this are overstated, but I know how much time companies put into touting that their products are lighter than the previous gen, so I make it a point to include the info. My final complaint is with Bluetooth and how they handle the keyboard "sleeping." It kind of doesn't. When you haven't used it for a bit, it automatically powers off. No "standby" mode which allows me to tap the keys and everything springs to life after a moment. No, you'll have to hit that power button if you say, were reading a web article for 10 minutes or more then go to start typing or hit the 'home' key to fast switch to another app. It's kind of a pain in light of what I'm used to using. I know, #FirstWorldProblems, right? But, that's it. Those are my complaints. The downsides you need to be aware of if you're going to buy.
What you get in the hardware of the Mechanical Keyboard is a power button on the right side of the device, which also serves as the pairing button. In the upper right-hand corner of the keyboard are two LED lights which will blink blue, red or green depending on the status of your keyboard and its current battery charge. The top row of function keys allows you to control keyboard backlighting, screen brightness, media controls, home and lock functions. Everything feels like it will last through your next zombie apocalypse with the only thing the hardware doesn't stand up to being fingerprints. Though it's a matte finish, it really does soak up fingerprints. The keyboard, cover and kickstand all do. Speaking of the cover, it has all the usual cutouts for your iPad. It's similar to Apple's silicon cover in that it only covers the back of the device with no flip over cover for the front- but that's what they keyboard half is for. The kickstand is attached to its back and there is a hinge at the bottom which attaches magnetically to the other half of the hinge on the keyboard. The magnet is quite strong, so no worries about an accidental disconnect, though you're not actually connected via Smart Connector anyway.
The Good News
Typist. Nervana. Yes, the low-profile mechanical keys are a revelation in mobile productivity for those of us who spend considerable time putting fingers to key and thought to touchscreen. The clicky sounds are awesome and the tactile feedback... all the feels. The ZAGG Slim Book feels like it has deeper travel but the responsiveness and feedback from Razer's keyboard is light years ahead of any of its competitors. Key spacing is solid and I had fewer mistakes on this keyboard than any mobile keyboard I've had the pleasure of reviewing. What's interesting to me from a visual perspective is that the keys looks smaller than some of its competitors, which you would think would make the keyboard feel more cramped and lead to typos, but I didn't experience either issue. At no point did the keyboard feel cramped and, as I stated previously, accuracy was definitely high.
This is where I'll spend my money when it comes time to buy a keyboard. Matter of fact, a co-worker who also has the iPad Pro 12.9" and the Create keyboard, along with Apple's own Smart Keyboard cover expressed his hate for me after giving him a test run with this keyboard. Hatred for the fact that he now has to buy another keyboard. You're welcome!
That said, this is definitely a niche product. I asked the office, that would be our web team, about the clicky keys and felt like I was alone. Elsewhere, I've asked developer and coder friends, some IT pals and they all asked, "How much? Who's selling it? Want!" Especially if I was able to let them check out that satisfying click. The clickity clack makes my heart happy! The reassuring sound just goes hand in hand with the physical feedback allowing you to more confidently get your type on! Yes, confidence in typing is a thing. Again, for those typing for long stretches on a mobile keyboard, you should definitely see your typos go down and accuracy go up. You may even consider turning off auto-correct. Gasp! I know. Perish the thought. Let's face it, auto-correct is a pain in the backside sometimes, even though it's probably saved your backside a few times.
Is this the keyboard for you? Yes. No. I don't know, but you do. Or, you will know once you've typed on it for a few seconds. If you're into clicky keys, look no further. If you have no idea what the heck I'm talking about when I say, "mechanical keyboard" but miss the old days of chunky desktop keyboards with their reassuring click and key travel, then you definitely need to try this out. It's big and bulky and will definitely be a turn off to the Apple elitist gram counters who need everything waif thin and ultralight, but for those of us who favor function over form or just appreciate highly functional tech which also has great form, Razer's mechanical keyboard is definitely a winner. Today, it is truly unlike anything else on the market.
Disclosure: Razer provided me with a sample unit for the purpose of this review.