Keyboards have come a long way – from the iconic typewriters to the more modern conventional rubber-dome keyboards. Now, we have mechanical keyboards that we know and love, and it seems to be a trend to combine modern technology with a retro look.
Enter the Elysium DOT Lofree wireless mechanical keyboard. Available in Malaysia right now for RM449, it’s a very unique-looking keyboard with similarly unique propositions. But at the end of the day, a keyboard is judged by how well it types – here’s the lowdown.
What Is It?
The Elysium DOT Lofree is a keyboard that looks like an old-school typewriter, but has the guts of a modern mechanical keyboard. It doesn’t just mimic a typewriter’s design with its round keycaps: the Lofree is also fitted with Gateron blue switches to replicate the clickety-clack of typewriters (and the authentic feel of a modern mechanical keyboard). It sports white backlighting too, with three brightness levels.
Interestingly, the Lofree supports a number of operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Android, as well as iOS. On top of that, the keyboard can connect up to three devices simultaneously, allowing you to switch effortlessly between them. Apart from that, the Lofree also has a built-in 4,000mAh battery, with battery life varying depending on backlight levels.
Is It Any Good?
Let’s start with the obvious. The Elysium DOT Lofree keyboard is one handsome-looking keyboard. Our review unit is the standard white/black version, but there are other more colourful combinations available. That said, everyone in the office agrees on the sleek, minimalist look of this colour combination.
It is also pretty hefty despite its size (most likely due to the built-in battery). That’s not necessarily a bad thing: most mechanical keyboards are heavy due to the hardware within. But of course, this adds quite a bit of weight when the Lofree keyboard is carried around.
The Gateron switches are similar to the Cherry MX Blue switches, which offer a tactile and clicky feedback. The use of Gateron switches instead of the common Cherry MX Blue switches is a little odd, but they are perfectly acceptable. It isn’t the worst part of the keyboard (more on that in the next section).
Speaking of keys, the Lofree is touted to be the first wireless mechanical keyboard that fully supports the Mac layout, so it comes with keys you’d come to expect from an Apple keyboard.
In terms of battery life, the Lofree’s built-in 4,000mAh battery holds up really well. I always leave my backlight setting on medium, and even after a couple weeks of usage, I still didn’t need to charge it. The Lofree is charged via a microUSB port, and the same port is used when you want to use the keyboard in wired mode.
Oddly enough, the Lofree does not have a kickstand. Instead, it has rubber pieces that give the keyboard a subtle elevation, which improves the typing experience. Two big and thick rubber pads on the bottom ensures the Lofree does not move about while typing. Also, I rather like the fact that this keyboard sports “floating keycaps,” making it really easy to clean.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
I mentioned the typing experience of the Lofree briefly, but let’s get back to it: typing on this keyboard is hit-and-miss, quite literally. Because they keyboard layout is a little off from standard keyboards – and the fact that the keycaps are circular and not square, the Lofree takes some effort to get used to – especially if you are a touch typist.
Even after weeks of using the keyboard and getting comfortable with the odd layout of the Lofree, I still find myself hitting the wrong keys.
A good example of the odd keyboard layout is the Backspace button: it’s the same size as other keys. This meant I often hit the button to its left whenever I wanted to backspace. The right Shift key is also tiny too, pushed inwards because of the arrow keys.
Thankfully, the left Shift and Enter keys are larger: they have an “8-shape” to them, which goes quite well with the overall design of the keyboard.
The Lofree is designed to be a compact, Mac-centric keyboard, so certain keys – especially ones designed for Windows machines – are missing. It’s basically the equivalent of a 60% keyboard, so keys like Home, End, Page Up/Down and Ins are not here.
One key that I truly missed is the Print Screen key, which is essential in my line of work. Of course, not everyone will share my sentiment, but it’s a point worth pointing out – especially if you plan to get the Lofree for your Windows machine.
Should I Buy It?
The Elysium DOT Lofree wireless mechanical keyboard looks great on paper. It can be used wirelessly or wired; it supports multiple operating systems; it can connect to multiple devices; and most importantly, it is fitted with mechanical switches.
While the Lofree looks very sleek and retro, it sacrifices the one crucial factor of a keyboard: typing experience. Even with the mechanical switches, its odd layout takes some time getting used to, and even after getting comfortable with it, the round keys are surprisingly difficult to adapt to.
At RM449 on Lazada, the Lofree is not a very affordable mechanical keyboard (though wireless keyboards generally aren’t too affordable in the first place). But if you appreciate the Lofree’s standout retro design – and willing to get accustomed to the its unconventional layout – the asking price is…somewhat justified.