Apple

Wireless mechanical keyboard built for Macs

The Lofree Dot is about the size of an Apple Magic keyboard.
The Lofree Dot is about the size of an Apple Magic keyboard.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

I had been looking for a wireless mechanical keyboard for my Mac computers for quite a while.

Most mechanical keyboards are built for Windows. So to find one that comes with the Mac keyboard layout is difficult; and to find a wireless version even more so.

While I am completely in tune with Apple keyboards, I do prefer the clicky tactile response of mechanical gaming keyboards like the Razer Blackwidow or HyperX Alloy FPS.

Hence, when I saw an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in March by Lofree for a mechanical keyboard that is inspired by typewriters of yesteryear and built for Macs, I immediately backed it with my money. And, two weeks ago, the Lofree Dot keyboard arrived.

The Dot comes in three models - black, turquoise and white (the version tested) - with black round concave keys that mimic those of traditional typewriters.

It has quite a small footprint, about the size of an Apple Magic keyboard. The keys sit in a tray that has smooth curves along all of its sides. At the tray's bottom, there are non-adjustable rubber pegs that tilt the keyboard at six degrees for a comfortable typing angle.

Lofree uses Gateron Blue switches, which is similar to Cherry MX Blue switches (my favourite), for a clicky tactile response. I like how the keys have the same response and loud typewriter sounds like those on gaming mechanical keyboards.

All the keys are backlit, but only in white, with three levels of brightness - low, medium and high.

On the right side of the Dot, there is a micro-USB port for charging and connection, a power/Bluetooth switch and a switch to toggle between macOS/iOS and Windows/Android. This keyboard supports all the four operating systems and you can pair it with up to three devices.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: US$84 (S$116), pre-order at Indiegogo

    CONNECTIVITY: USB and Bluetooth

    COMPATIBILITY: Android, iOS, macOS and Windows

    WEIGHT: 799g

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The pairing process is really seamless for both Mac and Windows. Press the Function and "1" keys for 3sec to activate pairing mode, then click on Dot@Lofree on the Bluetooth menu of your device, and it is done. Repeat the steps with the "2" and "3" keys to pair with two more devices.

It is a breeze toggling through three paired devices, including my iMac, iPad and office Windows laptop. Just press the Function key and the corresponding number key to switch.

At first glance, the Dot seems to follow the Mac keyboard layout pretty closely. But, upon closer inspection, you will find that the rows of keys are arranged in a staggered manner.

For example, the up key is sited weirdly just beside the right shift key and not directly above the down key but to the side instead. I ended up hitting the shift key when I was actually trying to move up the page.

The key placement is really tight and you will probably often end up hitting two keys at the same time.

Also, while the Enter and left Shift keys might be larger than the rest, they are shaped like a figure of eight, which makes pressing on them quite uncomfortable.

That said, you probably just need a bit of time to get used to these idiosyncrasies. I got used to the Dot in around a week.

Battery life is pretty good. Despite using it for two weeks with the backlight set at medium, there is no need to charge it yet.

As a backer in Indiegogo, I paid only US$74 (S$102), which I think is quite affordable. You can pre-order the keyboard at US$84 now, but the retail price when it hits the store is expected to be US$129. That is a bit on the steep side.

•Verdict: The Lofree Dot is so close to being the perfect wireless mechanical keyboard for Mac. It still can be if you are patient enough to get used to odd key placements.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Wireless mechanical keyboard built for Macs'. Print Edition | Subscribe