Unboxing the MX Keys Mechanical
We brought the new MX Keys Mechanical keyboard into our design space for a review. Follow along with Sean, Ken and Nick as they proclaim opinions on Logitech’s design choices—from keycap layout to material highlights, and compare it to the rest of the MX Keys and Apple Magic lineup.
Unbox Redux
Sean: Technically, we unboxed this last week… Ben's been using it.

Ken: But we still have the box, so it's back in the box now.

Nick: And now it's unboxed! Let's dig in.
MX Keys: Mechanical v. Regular
Ken: It feels light to me. It's lighter than the regular MX Keys. That's surprising.

Sean: They're close, but yeah I'd say the MX Keys is a bit heavier than the mechanical.

The regular MX Keys feels more solid. That's really surprising since this is all plastic.

Nick: I just saw on the bottom that there’s an adjustable mount to adjust the height of the back, which the MX Keys does not have.

Ken: The MX Keys only has one height. This one has probably an eight degree height change [to prop it up higher].
On Design Language Continuity
Ken: I really like that the design language is really consistent and carries over. The MX Keys has more of this bubbly look to it, lots of rounded surfaces that don't necessarily line up. Then what I like about the mechanical is that the bump out in the back actually lines up to the edge. It still has that same flavor, but just a little more streamlined.
Sean: On the MX Keys the keys feel really premium themselves, because they have that circular interior. I like those keys better, and I wish that I could have a similar looking key on this one, with that round indent. But if you superimposed the round indent onto this, it doesn't really work. Right?
Nick: The MX Mechanical is $150 to $170 in price. MX Keys is $100 for the mini and $120 for the full.

Ken: Basically $50 extra for the travel and click. It does feel more premium though, because of the switches.
Let’s Talk Materials
Sean: They had to strike a middle ground. They weren't trying to design a $500 keyboard. They're trying to make something for the most volume. It needs to be a little nice, so they have one nice material.

Ken: Yeah, on the top.
Sean: This machined aluminum with this beautiful chamfer. It's a 16th of an inch thick. The rest is injection molded plastic.

Ken: Look at the iPhone 5, or iPhone 4: chromed out chamfer on the edge of that metal.

Sean: Yeah. It's really nice. It pops right there. This one feels more premium than MX Keys.
Debate: Floating v. Enclosed
Sean: The first thing that really stood out to me about the keyboard was that the keys are floating. I really like that. When I think mechanical, I want to see the mechanism. I really like seeing under those keys, having them float. The lighting feature helps.

All right. Perfect. This is not just for the drama of our episode, but I disagree. I think it's really distracting seeing the guts. Actually…that’s a food crumb.

Sean: You got some stuff in there.

Ken: I got some fried chicken. Maybe it's easier to clean out though, because they're raised. But I also feel like I might break it, because it's exposed.

Sean: This is all about surfaces, and floating surfaces on surfaces. I really like that stacking effect that happens.

Ken: There are more shadows. Also, it's not very bulky, because of this decision they made to expose the keys. But the type that I like have the keys recessed into the body. It's playful looking. The keys look vintage. Here they’re bringing in modern elements with the exposed keys.
Grid Over Staggered Rows
Ken: There's something that bothers me about the keyboard. See if you guys can guess.

[Nick and Sean cannot guess]

Ken: See, over here the number pad is a perfect grid. The part where you type your letters is usually offset. Right?
But here the first two rows are totally lined up on a grid, then the remaining rows are staggered. Who knows how prevalent that is, but it just caught my eye. Something's off.

Sean: Once you see it, you can't unsee it.

Ken: Somebody's making these decisions, right? I wonder if that throws people off—if you're a keyboard nerd, or somebody like my brother who basically types for a living.
MX Keys Mechanical v. Apple
Ken: I actually like that they offset the cord, the plug, for plugging in the keyboard. It's not directly in the middle. It clears up space behind the keyboard for other things that you might need.

Apple's goes straight out the back. I think it’s very functional to put it to the side.

Yeah it’s really nice. Why did Apple put theirs in the middle? It's annoying, once you point that out.

Lead Product Designer
MX Mechanical v. Other Mechanicals
Sean: My question is, are these switches proprietary or are these the ones that are usually on mechanical keyboards? Because, I know nothing.

Ken: Logitech’s probably big enough that they can develop their own solutions.

Nick: Yeah. I remember that they don't use Gateron or MX Cherry. They use the colors, but not the third-party manufacturers.
Ken: This is not targeted towards hardcore keyboard people who want total customisability.

Sean: This is someone who just wants a mechanical keyboard to get up and go.

I think it just provides more of that tactile feel that people are looking for, but in a more modern style.

Sean: It's approachable. If you're doing the work that we're doing professionally and you're working from home, I'm not going to buy myself a mechanical keyboard that I have to put together, because I want to just get my setup dialed and go.
Closing Thoughts
Ken: My big revelation is this emoji key (F6). That is...I want one.

Nick: I appreciate, Ken, that now I cannot unsee this grid up here and it's really disturbing.

Sean: Ken's ruined the keyboards. But it functions great.

Ken: And it definitely looks good with walnut.

Sean: Yeah. It looks really good with the walnut.

Further Reading