Considering that I handle the phones coverage for Tom's Guide, it might surprise some of you that one of my side passions is mechanical keyboards. I have several in my office closet and I enjoy them all for different things, mostly typing. But ever since I switched to a MacBook Pro for work purposes, I've missed a seamless mechanical keyboard experience.
You can use Windows layout, which is far and away the default with keyboards, and get on fine. Command is in a different spot and you substitute Alt for Option, and you might miss out on the function row/laptop controls. It's doable, but retraining my brain to translate Mac commands to a Windows layout wasn't something I wanted to spend time on.
The need for something better
When looking for an external keyboard, I had a few options. The first was the $99 Magic Keyboard from Apple (opens in new tab), but I didn't want to drop that kind of money on a keyboard I didn't really like to begin with. I found a cheaper knockoff from Macally (opens in new tab), which was just a plastic Magic Keyboard. It worked fine for a few months, especially since it was $35 when I purchased it.
I type a lot. Not only for my job here at Tom's Guide, but I'm also working on a novel and so I type just as much (and sometimes more) in my downtime at night and on weekends. I typically pull out my favorite board (opens in new tab), a heavy 65% using Halo True (opens in new tab) switches and the MiTo Laser SA (opens in new tab) keycap set (in a purple Tofu65 (opens in new tab) case) — this is my pride and joy.
But in addition to the layout issue, which was just a distraction from my writing, I had to sacrifice one of the two USB-C ports on my 2017 MacBook Pro if I wanted to use my favorite keyboard with it. This meant I couldn't use my second monitor, which is vital to the way I work. I wasn't willing to make that trade-off, and since all of my keyboards are wired, I couldn't use any of them for work.
Finding the Keychron K2
So I started a search for — and bear with me here — a wireless, Mac layout, mechanical keyboard, preferably with switches that wouldn't drive me mad while typing, as linears and clickys tend to. (See our guide to mechanical keyboard switches to learn more about the differences.) This was an incredibly strict set of criteria, but one late night while browsing Amazon, I found one.
The Keychron K2 (opens in new tab) had everything I wanted: Bluetooth and wired, 75% Mac layout, and a choice between Gateron Brown, Blue, or Red switches, all for under $100. If you know mechanical keyboards, you know they can get very expensive, especially custom-built ones. So for $79, I could have a keyboard that met all of my needs.
I made the purchase and when the board arrived, I was ecstatic. I think Gateron switches are fine, especially as less expensive alternatives to Cherry switches. Of all the options, I went with the Browns (opens in new tab) for that satisfying tactile bump. There was an RGB version of the K2 for $10 more, but I went with the plain white backlight since my RGB is reserved for my gaming setup on my other desk.
Writing with the Keychron K2
In the time since, typing has been an absolute joy. I'm participating in November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Between my work and that, I've already typed tens of thousands of words on the Keychron. When you're trying to get yourself to write at the pace that NaNoWriMo requires, having tools that you're excited to use massively improves your motivation.
I could have worked on my novel on my Windows machine, where I have my choice of keyboard, but I purchased a Scrivener license for my MacBook so that I could use the powerful novel-writing software anywhere I chose. I admit that I'm a niche case. But ever since an old colleague at my first major freelance gig introduced me to the wonder of mechanical keyboards, I've been crazy about them.
Keychron K2 outlook
Missing out on having a keyboard I liked on my MacBook didn't please me. I'm very picky about my typing experience, which differs from what I prefer for gaming — I use Kailh Box Blacks on my gaming keyboard. Gateron Browns aren't my first choice of switch (that award goes to the Glorious Panda), but for the Keychron K2's price, I'm more than satisfied. (You'll want to check out our picks for the best gaming keyboards to find one that suits your style).
If you're on a Mac and want a wireless mechanical keyboard experience without any hassle, I highly recommend checking out the Keychron K2. It's the best purchase I've made so far in 2021.