Last December, home-grown tech start-up Tempest released Kirin, a tenkeyless (TKL) wireless mechanical keyboard. It offers such superb value for money that I bought one.
Now, Tempest has launched its successor - the Kirin v2. It comes in only black, unlike the original Kirin, which has black and white versions.
It offers three mechanical switch options - the clicky Kailh Box White (version tested), tactile Novelkeys x Kailh Box Royal and linear Gateron Yellow. Plus, it has a hotswop modularity mechanism that allows you to swop switches.
So, if you prefer Cherry MX Blue, for instance, you can always buy those switches and swop them with the existing ones on the Kirin v2.
With the original Kirin, you get to choose from three types of Cherry MX mechanical switches.
As I have always preferred keyboards with clicky switches, I reviewed the Kailh Box White version.
At first look, the Kirin v2 does not seem to differ much in appearance from its predecessor, though its backplate has been upgraded to aluminium-alloy from the original's steel.
The keycaps in the Kirin v2 have also been upgraded with doubleshot polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) material. The original Kirin already uses PBT keycaps, which are of higher quality than the acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) keycaps found on most keyboards.
PBT keycaps are more wear-resistant than ABS ones, so their lettering and texture can be expected to remain intact even after long and heavy usage.
Doubleshot PBT keycaps use two PBT layers for even better wear-resistance. Also, the doubleshot PBT keycaps of the Kirin v2 do not have the grainy texture of the ones on the original Kirin. They feel as smooth as ABS keycaps.
The new keyboard has RGB backlight (the original Kirin has white backlight). You can toggle through 19 preset lighting effects by pressing the Function and PageUp keys, as well as choose from nine colours by pressing the Function and PageDown keys. However, there is no software like the Razer Synapse that offers further customisation options.
• Smooth and durable doubleshot PBT keycaps
• RGB backlight
• Familiar keyboard layout
• Hotswop modularity allows switch change
• Carrying case included
• More expensive than the original Kirin
• No software for further customising the backlight
PRICE: From $229, available on tempest.sg
SWITCHES: Kailh Box White (version tested), Novelkeys x Kailh Box Royal and Gateron Yellow
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C
BATTERY LIFE: 4/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
Other improvements of the Kirin v2 include the latest Bluetooth 5.1 technology for better power consumption and connectivity, an improved 2,700mAh rechargeable battery (up from the 1,850mAh capacity of the original) and a carrying case.
The Kirin v2 has a rather conservative colour scheme of black, white and pink keycaps, compared with the colourful scheme of the white version of the original Kirin (called Crayon).
The majority of the keycaps are in white and black. The Escape, Enter and directional keycaps are in pink, but can be swopped for black ones, which are included.
As the Kirin v2 offers a conventional keyboard layout, you do not need to re-learn the position of keys. Muscle memory allows me to type effortlessly with few errors.
However, I prefer the MX Cherry Blue switches over the Kailh Box White switches, as the latter do not feel as "clicky" even though they require less actuation force.
In the review, I used the Kirin v2 for about eight hours a day and the battery went flat only after two weeks. There were no instances of Bluetooth connectivity drops or lags.
At $229, the Kirin v2 is a fair bit more expensive than the original Kirin ($148).
However, I feel its features and improvements over the original make it well worth the extra money.