Lofree mechanical keyboard review: The feeling of a typewriter on your Mac or iOS device

Lofree is an attractive, sturdy keyboard, but it has a few quirks the may confound anyone used to the Apple keyboard.

lofree keyboard
Credit: Roman Loyola/IDG
At a Glance

I’m not a fan of Apple keyboards. There’s nothing wrong with them technically. I just don’t like they way they feel. But I put up with them and over time, my dislike for them has lessened.

For the past few weeks, I’ve (mostly) ditched the Apple keyboard for the new Lofree Mechanical Keyboard. What I found is that my frequent use of the Apple keyboard influenced my experience with the Lofree to mixed results.

A different feel

The Lofree keyboard is  marketed as being “inspired by typewriters.” Instead of square keys (like those found on Apple and other keyboards), the Lofree’s keys are round, like those you’d find on a typewriter. The round keys are also slightly concave, not flat like the Apple keyboard keys, so your fingertips nestle in nicely. The Lofree is a mechanical keyboard, and there’s a satisfying click when you press a key followed by subtle spring-back action.

Because I mostly use Apple keyboards, I have an issue when using the Lofree that may or may not happen to you. The Lofree keys have more travel (how deep you have to press the keys) than the keys on the Apple keyboard—a lot more travel. As a result, I encounter hand fatigue while using the Lofree, even after only a couple of hours of writing. The more I use the Lofree, the more my hands become “in shape” and the longer I can go before I have to got back to using the Apple keyboard. But after a few weeks of use, I’m still switching from the Lofree keyboard to the Apple one when my hands start to ache.

Maybe your hands aren’t wimpy like mine, and you won’t have the same problem with hand fatigue. I do think it’s important to bring this up, since repetitive stress injuries need to be considered when choosing any input device. Your mileage may vary.

lofree arrow q 1 Roman Loyola/IDG

The Lofree's row of number keys has a different alignment than that of the Apple Keyboard (back) and other non-Apple keyboards.

Other issues

Typing on an Apple keyboard is a relatively quiet task. But typing on a Lofree is much noisier. I actually like its sound, but I’m from a generation that grew up with typewriters and noisy computer keyboards. People have remarked to me on how noisy the Lofree is, enough so that I’m conscious about it in my workplace.

The one vexing problem I have with the Lofree is the key layout, especially with the row of number keys. This row is misaligned, so, for example, the 1/! key on the Lofree is to the upper right of the Q key, and the `/~ key is to the upper left. On the Apple keyboard (and many other non-Apple keyboards I’ve seen), the 1/! key is to the upper left of the Q key. At first, I would type the wrong numbers/characters, but now I stop to look at the keyboard when I need to use this row of keys. For anyone who relies on touch typing to get their work done, this is a deal breaker.

Then there are the arrow keys. I often tap the Shift key when I mean to tap the Up-Arrow key. Also, in order to use the top row of keys as function keys, you have to press the Lofree’s fn key.

So, using the Lofree keyboard takes some getting used to if you’ve been using Apple keyboards. You have to adjust to the mechanics of the keys, the sound, and the key layout. Is it worth it? The Lofree is available with early adopter pricing on Indiegogo for $74, which isn’t a bad price for a wireless keyboard. Apple’s Magic Keyboard is $99, which will be the regular price of the Lofree when the Indiegogo campaign is done.

lofree arrow keys apple keyboard Roman Loyola/IDG

The arrow keys on the Lofree keyboard (left) and the Apple Extended Keyboard (right).

Bottom line

The Lofree typewriter-inspired mechanical keyboard provides a different and unique look to your keyboard setup. It’s an attractive and study keyboard with a personality of its own. If you do decide to use it regularly, you’ll need to make adjustments to your typing technique, especially if you’re an Apple keyboard user.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating
    Learn more
    on Indiegogo

    Pros

    • Attractive and unique
    • Sturdy
    • Can connect up to three devices at a time via Bluetooth

    Cons

    • Row of number keys shifted to the right of standard keyboard design
    • Might be too noisy for some shared work environments
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