Keychon has been an ascending name in the mechanical keyboard world for a while now. The company strikes a good balance between features and price and it’s also not shy about releasing new models meaning whatever you’re after it likely has a solution. Unless you wanted a premium aluminum deck with a wireless option that is. Finally, that gap has been filled by the Q1 Pro – a flagship, fully customizable 75% keyboard complete with Bluetooth connectivity.
Surprising as it may seem, higher-end, customizable keyboards often don’t offer wireless thanks to their tendency for metal housings. Keychron’s Q1 Pro, then, will be of great interest to those who want to fully configure their own keyboard but also want the convenience of Bluetooth.
As the name suggests, the Q1 Pro is heavily based on the original Q1 model which Keychron launched in late 2021. Like its predecessor, the Pro model features a gasket design (a double gasket in fact), hot-swappable switches, and QMKVIA compatibility (open-source software for easy remapping of any key). There’s also the option of an aluminum rotary knob for things like volume control (or zoom, or brightness, or whatever else you might want it for) and the obligatory RGB. As with all Keychron models, it’s also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Android – or all three at the same time thanks to the option to connect to multiple Bluetooth devices.
We were big fans of the original Q1 which offered a relatively affordable entry point into the fully customizable keyboard world. And it’s a bit of a weird world at that, with configurations, prices,s and availability varying wildly. Perhaps two of the higher profile competitors for the Q1 are the GMMK Pro (starting at $170 barebones, or $350 pre-built) and the recently released Sense75 from Drop (starting at $249 barebones, or $350 pre-built).
In a slight break from tradition, the Q1 Pro is being launched via Kickstarter. The benefit here is the chance to grab one at an early bird price. The barebones model is available for $174 if you already have your own switches and keycaps. Or, for $194 you can get the pre-assembled kit. Given that a set of keycaps or switches often cost more than $20 on their own, the complete kit does represent a pretty decent value.
Once you have everything set up, up or out of the box if you go fully assembled, Bluetooth pairing is merely a key-combo away. As noted earlier, you can connect the Q1 Pro to up to three devices of any type thanks to the switch around the back for Windows Android, and MacOS. There are even spare keycaps in the box for the differing keys on Microsoft vs Apple layouts. Of course, if you want to connect over USB-C instead, that’s still an option.
Battery life will largely depend on how ham you go with the RGB. With no backlighting at all, Keychron claims you can expect about 300 hours of use on a full charge. If you’re demure with it, that number drops to 90. Keychain doesn’t give an estimate for hardcore full-power RGB but expects it to be less.
With the model Keychron sent for testing, the gasket design appears to have a bit more flex in it than the original Q1, but that doesn’t translate to a softer typing experience thankfully. The supplied red switches are comparable to Cherry reds in resistance, but of course, you can choose whatever you want, in fact, it’s encouraged. It’s hard to make a like-for-like comparison without having a rival product with the same switches and keycaps, but, overall, the Drop Sense75 and GMMK Pro feel a little stiffer on the gasket side of things resulting in a snappier type. As always, your mileage and preferences will vary.
Regardless, if you wanted a premium aluminum, customizable keyboard with Bluetooth connectivity, the Keychron Q1 Pro is likely your best (if not only) choice right now.