It’s odd that, given their booming popularity among all kinds of computer users, mechanical keyboards still have so few wireless options. Between gamers, computing purists, and pragmatists, there doesn’t seem to be much desire for Bluetooth mechanical boards. But if you’d like a mobile-friendly keyboard, or just a more aesthetically pleasing one for your desktop, there are a handful of options out there.
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Varmilo VB87M: The Best All-Around Option
Varmilo, a Chinese vendor well-known among mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, sells what’s probably the most widely-used tenkeyless Bluetooth mechanical design. The VB87M is essentially the same product as its VA87M, with an included Bluetooth module and a battery. The plastic case and high-end PBT keycaps are offered in a variety of colors, including a fetching side-printed option that preserves the legends under constant typing. Though the price is high and the somewhat antiquated Mini-USB (not Micro-USB) is a bit of a bummer, this is the most reliable design I’ve tried, and my personal “daily driver” for several years.
The VB87M is manufactured in small batches and isn’t often in stock, but it tends to go on sale at Massdrop for around $140 every couple of months. Different colors, LED backlight colors, and a wide selection of Cherry or Gateron switches are available. A smaller Varmilo design with Topre key switches, the VB67M, is unfortunately out of production.
Obins Anne Pro: For Those Who Want Mobile Flexibility
At the moment the Anne Pro ($90) is probably the most popular 60% Bluetooth mechanical keyboard design. This is due to a combination of easy mobile support with a purpose-made Android programming app, easy availability from vendors like Amazon, and full RGB LED support. The keys and lighting layout can be re-arranged in almost any fashion, which is especially helpful on a somewhat limited 60% design. The board comes with PBT keycaps from the factory, a standard ANSI arrangement that’s compatible with aftermarket keycaps, and it comes with a free USB Bluetooth adapter in the package. Gateron switches are available in Blue, Brown, and Red designs, and white or black keys/cases are sold.
Logitech G613: The Wireless Option For Gamers
Logitech’s dipped a toe or two in the mechanical keyboard pool before, but the $150 G613 is their first wireless model… and the first “gaming” wireless keyboard I’ve ever seen. It comes with a choice of standard Bluetooth or Logitech’s “Lightspeed” USB wireless dongle with a claimed one millisecond response time. Unfortunately that connection flexibility means a bit of rigidity in other areas: it comes with only a full-sized layout (plus extra programmable macro keys) and Logitech’s proprietary Romer-G switches, which aren’t compatible with aftermarket keycaps. It has extra media and connection keys, but does without backlighting to save battery, which Logitech says can last 18 months on two AAs.
Royal Kludge RK61: The Budget Bluetooth Option
The Royal Kludge RK61 ($45) is a budget option for those who want a smaller keyboard, but don’t particularly care about the Anne Pro’s RGB LEDs and programmability. The plastic case and Kailh switches are cheaper than the alternatives, and models are available with white LEDs or somewhat garish rainbow colors that can’t be adjusted except for brightness. If you’re interested in a purchase, be aware that some early versions of this board have no arrow cluster (even in the function layer): the one you want is the image above, with arrows on the /, menu, right Alt, and right Control buttons. Function keys cannot be reprogrammed, including the awkward F11 and F12 keys on [ and ]. Key switch options are also limited: at the moment both the black and white case/keycap models only come with a Blue switch design.
Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional BT: A Pricey Import For Programmers
The custom-layout, Topre-switch Happy Hacking Keyboard design is a favorite for programmers and general geeks, but it’s yet to catch on with more pedestrian users. The Japanese manufacturer created a Bluetooth-equipped model last year, and like the original HHKB, it’s a little odd: instead of an internal rechargeable battery, it uses a pair of AAs installed in a “hump” on the back. The Professional BT model is offered with key legends or without in a single 45-gram Topre switch design. Importing it from Japan will be extremely pricey: the few vendors who offer it for sale in the United States start at around $300 and go up. (For reference, that’s about $100 more than the wired version.) That’s a lot of money to spend on wireless functionality, especially if you’re not already familiar with the function-heavy HHKB layout, and it won’t work with standard Cherry-style replacement keycaps.
Plum Nano 75: 75% Layout With “Topre Clones” On A Budget
The Plum Nano 75’s modified “75%” layout is surprisingly flexible, and its electrostatic (“Topre clone”) key switches offer a unique feel for typists. While the beige plastic case and keycaps aren’t very fetching, the cross-shaped stems are compatible with Cherry-style replacement keycaps, unlike the HHKB. A windows application allows more or less unlimited programmability, including the RGB backlighting. Plum keyboards aren’t typically stocked in the US or Europe, but some vendors sell the design in 35-gram and 45-gram varieties on AliExpress for $170. It also appears on Massdrop occasionally.
Matias Laptop Pro: The Only Mac-Specific Wireless Option
This odd-looking design is the only Bluetooth mechanical model specifically made for macOS. Offered only with Matias Alps-style “Quiet Click” mechanical switches and a unique layout, you won’t be able to use this keyboard with third-party keycaps. It’s also one of the bigger, heavier designs on this list, with a carry weight of over two pounds. At $170, it’s an expensive premium for Mac users—they might want to stick to more conventional layouts and simply deal with the “incorrect” legends.
DREVO Calibur: A Mid-Sized Budget Alternative
The DREVO Calibur ($60) uses an odd layout, a tenkeyless width that chops off the dedicate function row for a long, thin case. That said, it offers a low price with full RGB LEDs, though programmable lights and keys seem to be absent. Cherry clone switches are offered in Blue, Brown, Red, and Black varieties. With wide availability on Amazon and a low $60 price tag, it’s a decent option if you’d like something smaller than full size but don’t like the compromises of a 60% layout. Unfortunately it’s only available in a grey/white case color option, but replacement keycaps for the ANSI layout are easy to find.
Custom Designs: When Nothing Else Will Do
Given the limited options for Bluetooth and the proclivity of mechanical keyboard enthusiasts to roll their own, there are quite a few custom-made keyboard designs that add a battery and Bluetooth controller to an existing layout. If you can program your own layout and solder your own keys to a PCB (or even do the custom wiring yourself), you should be able to use a popular add-on like the Raspberry Pi Zero W to modify or create your own Bluetooth mechanical keyboard. It isn’t easy, fast, or cheap, but it’s a lot of fun for the right kind of geek. Do some searching on the mechanical keyboard Subreddit or GeekHack.org to get started.
Image credits: Amazon, Massdrop, MechanicalKeyboards.com
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