Review: Lofree's Mechanical Bluetooth Keyboard Is a Beautiful, Frustrating Typewriter for Your Mac

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Redesigning an input device is a risky business. When Apple introduced its latest MacBooks, some users complained that the new butterfly mechanism in the keys was a turnoff. They criticized the keyboard for its lack of travel, and said the experience of typing was not much different to tapping on a touch screen. Other users felt okay with the change. Whichever side people fell on the debate, everyone could agree that how a keyboard actually feels beneath the fingers matters a great deal.


    With the lofree Bluetooth keyboard, the designers have tried to re-imagine the typing process in a more radical way, by recreating the experience of operating a traditional typewriter, but in an elegant retro-modern design. The desirability of such a product is in no doubt - lofree's Indiegogo campaign set out to raise $10,000 over 30 days, but has already garnered $364,443 from over 4,000 backers, with several weeks to spare. We got a hold of a finished unit to see if the lofree keyboard can live up to expectations.

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    Article Link: Review: Lofree's Mechanical Bluetooth Keyboard Is a Beautiful, Frustrating Typewriter for Your Mac
  2. George Zip macrumors member

    George Zip

    Jan 2, 2011
    I like the look of the boards, and the fact they stuck with a "Mac (adapts to Windows)" layout/function setup (rather than the usual other way around).

    I have to have an ergo (split) keyboard for daily work (currently happily using a Kinesis Freestyle 2 for Mac) but eagerly await the possibility of an ergo version of this board. A simple split version (a la this) would be quite nice.
  3. mkeeley macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2007
    Retro's fine, quite enjoy it. But, to me, that's neither particularly retro or elegant. It's like they couldn't decide what it should be.
  4. ignatius345, Mar 20, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017

    ignatius345 macrumors 68020

    Aug 20, 2015
    This looks cute, but definitely a niche item. Real mechanical keyboard fans will want something with standardized keycaps they can interchange and customize (watch out, it's a rabbithole), whereas this thing has quirky round keys made out of probably cheap ABS plastic that will inevitably wear out, start to shine, etc -- and then aren't replaceable. Pass.

    They also chose a really horribly "clicky" noisy switch for this. Some like them, but they're likely to annoy anybody in earshot. Not all mechanical switches are that loud. There are WAY more switch choices out there, with a big range of resistance from stiff to easy. My personal favorite is Topre switches.

    And as for this being "Mac compatible"... any keyboard can readily be used on a Mac and it's been that way for years and years. The Keyboard preference pane lets you swap "Alt" and the "Windows" so your fingers hit the right key when you go for Command and Option -- and some nicer mechanical keyboards have a DIP switch on the keyboard itself so it works just right on a Mac the second you plug it in. So no, contrary to the marketing materials, you don't have to buy a special keyboard to use on a Mac. It's nice they labelled all the function key extras like brightness, volume, etc, but again, those will also work on any keyboard once you set them up in system preferences.

    If you want to go down the rabbithole: or
  5. jdillings macrumors 68000

    Jun 21, 2015
  6. WinstonRumfoord macrumors 6502

    Mar 27, 2014
    This looks very unergonomic, and not terribly retro. File this one under "not sure about this".
  7. tuc macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2003
    Did they explain the motivation for sliding the number keys to the left one notch?

    That would probably be a deal-killer for me.
  8. aleksoctop macrumors regular

    May 8, 2011
    Why is the sound a con? The clickety clacks are a feature. They were trying to make a typewriter-like keyboard, not something to replace your bluetooth apple keyboard. This is a niche keyboard.
  9. potatis, Mar 20, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017

    potatis macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2006
    What's the tempting-looking red button for? It seems to not be red on all variants, maybe be it a localized foreign one
  10. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    This Reto need a real "carriage return"/"line feed" with a little bell
  11. jayducharme, Mar 20, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017

    jayducharme macrumors 68040


    Jun 22, 2006
    The thick of it
    The reason I love the newer Apple keyboards is that they take so very little effort when I type. I remember the days of using my old Remington typewriter in the days before computer keyboards, and I would never again wish that experience upon my fingers.

    I just happened across this similar keyboard that came out last year. I like this design a lot more, though, and it solves that tiny shift key problem:

  12. DogHouseDub macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2007
    The wife bought me one of these. Cute, and the carriage return arm rocks...but I never use it.

  13. fhall1 macrumors 68040


    Dec 18, 2007
    (Central) NY State of mind
    That's not a button, that's a trackball
  14. amg2014 macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2014
    Definitely looks cool, but I would prefer an IBM Model M instead.
  15. coolfactor macrumors 601

    Jul 29, 2002
    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    It's interesting that they designed for the Mac first, but then swapped the option/alt labels. I bet the designers are Mac users, yet call it the "alt" key.
  16. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    Now we are talking ... that's cute ...
  17. mac1984user macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2009
    United Kingdom
    The move from old typewriter keycaps to (more modern typewriter) PC keyboard keycaps was deliberate and useful (concave keys, wider surface area, etc.). So, this keyboard offers an antiquated style with the fringe benefit of being mechanical. Can't say that's reason enough to be a 'good' product. Oh well. To each their own. I'll stick to Mathias Pro 4 with ALPS-inspired switches! Feels quite a lot like the Apple Extended Keyboard II, which is also lovely and works if you have an ADB to USB adapter. =)
  18. bjet767 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2010
    What I find surprising is the noise.

    When the 2016 MBP came out some wrote some really nasty things about the noise of the new keyboard and yet here is a product which seems to relish in the noise it makes.

    Basically if you take your iPad with this keyboard to the local coffee shop to get some work done be prepared for some ugly looks or even comments when you begin to make all that noise. Of course before you start some will say how "cool" the keyboard looks and might even tell you a tale or two about how they typed papers for school on a "real" typewriter.

    This product does do one thing; it confirms all too often it's about style as much as it is functionality.

    Have a Sprite while you're at it.

  19. meaning-matters macrumors 6502


    Dec 13, 2013
    MR pros are mainly about looks, the cons about ergonomics.
    Ergo, it's a piece of crap that has some nice looks.

    What I hate is that you see the transparent (which are lit too) plastic switches underneath the keys.
  20. AltecX macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2016
    I like how most the cons are "reasons you buy a mechanical keyboard"

    My biggest issue is the shifted numbers row even though that technically having the number row start between Q and W is accurate on those old typers, that 1 was also usually not included on them.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 21, 2017 ---
    That's part of the point. Look at those old type writers, they keys looked like they are floating, which is what this also tries to mimic.
  21. butterburger cookybutter macrumors member

    butterburger cookybutter

    Aug 5, 2016
    2KRO, yuck, "do not want". I would prefer Model F.

    Many users in UnixLand reassign 'caps lock' to be a modifier, usually meta or control. On Model M, both 'shift's and 'caps lock' being held down disables many symbol keys. ThinkPad inherited this deficient electrical layout. Modifier keys being impaired by 2KRO sucks.
  22. RedTomato macrumors 601


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    I have an IBM Model M, with five signatures on the bottom label from the inspectors at the factory it was made in. It weighs about 2.5kg, nearly twice the weight of my Macbook Air. Every few years I take it out from the box it lives in in my attic, and try to set it up.

    Then I realise it's about twice the size of whatever desk I'm using, and forces my mouse hand so far to my right my arm is nearly straight out to my side when I need to use the mouse. I give up and put it back in the box in the attic. Maybe I can use it to repair the roof one day.

    I'm a fan of Apple's small wireless keyboards. They cost a bit but the keys are the same size, pitch, feel, and layout as my Macbook keyboard, it fits in my bag, no wires needed, I can use a mouse without needing to make a 5 minute lateral journey to its location.

    (I don't like Apple's new butterfly keyboards though.)
  23. Ivanovitchk macrumors regular


    Sep 9, 2010
    Paris, FR
  24. Arran macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2008
    Atlanta, USA
    That or a model F. The crisp tactility of an F was beautiful.
  25. PaulRustad007 macrumors 6502


    Jun 3, 2015
    I can not find this anywhere. Who makes it?

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29 March 20, 2017