Mechanical keyboards can be intimidating for newcomers. The sheer number of options – keyboard size, switch type and manufacturer, key style and material, among others – can make it difficult to know where to start. And yet, once you to do start using a mechanical keyboard, there’s a lot to love, from the excellent key movement and typing feel to the satisfying slam-slam of switches to key customization.
As we discussed in our Razer Pro Type Ultra review, good wireless mechanical keyboards are still hard to come by. This is doubly true if you are looking for one from a more established company that can provide US-based technical support and warranty and well-maintained and genuinely useful software. That’s why I’m happy to see Logitech expanding its range of mechanical keyboards with the Bluetooth Keyboard $ 100 Pop Keys.
The Pop Keys are definitely not for everyone. Its high contrast, high saturation color scheme, rounded typewriter-style keys, and dedicated emoji keys will instantly turn off people who just want a keyboard-like keyboard. Its keycap quality also leaves a little to be desired. But as a starter mechanical keyboard, or as a mechanical alternative to other Logitech Bluetooth keyboards like the budget K380 or MX Keys Mini, it’s an aesthetically striking option with reliable connectivity and a decent feel.
Pop keyboard reminds Logitech’s simple and inexpensive K380, another multi-device bluetooth keyboard with round keys. The K380’s scissor switches are on par with a decent not-great laptop keyboard; it’s not as firm as Apple’s magic keyboards, but it’s also a third of the price. And that’s what makes the K380 so attractive: it’s decent, it’s rock solid, a pair of AAA batteries can last for years, and it costs $ 30.
The Pop Keys takes that base model and adds TTC Brown mechanical switches (Logitech doesn’t specify what type of switches it uses, but it’s printed on the switches when you watch). As with the Razer Pro Type Ultra, one of the things you give up when you go for a more mainstream mechanical keyboard is the ability to choose which Switch you prefer. I think chestnuts are a solid choice for a lot of people, and this is what I personally use on the MagicForce Smart 2 and Varmilo VA87M– these are tactile switches with a more subtle bump that helps reduce noise, and I find they provide a nice mechanical feel and sound without being too loud.
|Features at a Glance: Logitech Pop Keys|
|Connectivity options||Logi Bolt Bluetooth 5.1 or USB-A dongle|
|Programmability||Emoji keys and most function keys, via software|
|Cut||12.65 × 5.45 × 1.39 inch (321.2 × 138.5 × 35.4mm)|
|Weight||1.7 lbs (779 g) with two AAA batteries|
|Price (MSRP)||$ 100|
|Other advantages||Bluetooth pairing with up to three devices, including Logi Bolt dongle|
That said, compared to the Gateron and Cherry MX Brown switches on other mechanical keyboards that I use regularly, the bump in the TTC Brown switches on the Pop Keys is terribly subtle, to the point that I wondered if he was actually using linear switches. the first time I used it. Now that I’ve been working with it for a few days, I can really feel that tactile bump, and it does its job – I don’t need to press any keys for the presses to register. But if you were worried about not liking the keyboard because the Brown switches don’t have enough bump for you, the pop keys can disappoint.
Logitech’s choice of keycap also leaves something to be desired. I’m not talking so much about the rounded shape of the keys – although it does take some getting used to, and even after a few days of typing I still find myself making more mistakes than on a typical keyboard – and more because of the ABS plastic used for the keys. Lightly textured ABS plastic is more likely to wear away and become shiny, smooth, and slippery over time compared to the more durable PBT keys, and Logitech has also printed the captions on the keys rather than molding them into the plastic. . The captions printed on the keys on my K380 didn’t fade after a few years of intermittent use, but I would be more worried about them for a keyboard that I used all day every day.
Good software, reliable pairing
Like the K380, the Pop Keys can be paired with up to three different devices via Bluetooth, and the key captions cover both Windows and macOS / iOS / iPadOS layouts. If Bluetooth isn’t responsive enough for you, or if you just want to connect the keyboard to a fourth device, Logitech includes one of its Logi Bolt Wireless USB Flash Drives in the box, so you can connect up to six compatible Logitech keyboards and mice using a low-latency wireless connection. The Bolt dongle can also pair the Pop Keys with a fourth computer, if the three Bluetooth connections are not enough for you.
I’ve never had a problem with Bluetooth reliability in a Logitech keyboard, and the solid low-latency connection is one thing that sets Pop Keys apart from other $ 100-and-under wireless mechanical keyboards I’ve used. I am experiencing random disconnections on multiple computers while using the Intelligent Force Magic 2so even though this keyboard is a bit cheaper and feels better to type than the pop keys, I end up treating it like a wired keyboard most of the time.
Logitech’s software is also quite good, as the keyboard software is doing – better than barebones or non-existent software for unnamed keyboard imports, but also more streamlined than Razer’s one. All-round inflated Synapse package. The Pop Keys keyboard is not programmable through hardware DIP switches or firmware customization, so you should rely on the software for any keyboard customization, including associating the correct emoji characters with the emoji keys.
If you have absolutely no use for the dedicated emoji keys, the good news is that these four buttons (usually dedicated to a combination of page up / down, end, insert, home, or print screen buttons on a typical keyboard at 75%) can be programmed to do just about anything, including functioning like other emoji. I would have liked Logitech to include keys for the traditional functions of these keys alongside the additional emoji keys so that people who want these buttons to do normal things can do so without spoiling the appearance of the keyboard. But at the end of the day, having keys whose captions don’t match their functions is a loophole you can live with if you’re happy with the rest of the decisions Logitech has made here.