Keychron continues to wow us with its Q series keyboards, which incorporate premium features from boutique mechanical builds into designs that are attainable (if not exactly cheap). While they’re all lookers, the Q series keyboards are a long way from portable, and they won’t appeal unless you’re already a fan of big, chunky mechanical keyboards. Enter the Keychron S1: a new design that combines the low-profile looks of Keychron’s portable wireless designs with the more premium materials and features of the pricier boards.
The S1 uses a 75% layout, with a full function row and arrow cluster, plus a few extra keys like page up and down. The milled aluminum case and Gateron low-profile mechanical switches (clicky blue, tactile brown, or linear red) make the entire package just 13.7mm tall sans keycaps. The keyboard includes removable feet to adjust the typing angle from three degrees to six, and naturally, every key is backlit. Each board comes with high-quality PBT keycaps, which is nice, since your options for custom keycaps will be much more restricted than with regular MX switches.
But those are fairly pedestrian features for keyboards these days, albeit not usually seen in low-profile designs. For the true customizer, the S1 has optional hot-swap switches (with choices somewhat limited by the form factor), full QMK and VIA programming, and a 1000Hz polling rate to keep gamers happy. Inside the case is sound-absorbing foam, to keep your housemates/coworkers sane. The only feature that seems to have been omitted is wireless functionality — it seems odd to me that such a small, bag-friendly keyboard is limited to a USB-C connection. The similarly-proportioned K series manages it. I’d rather have Bluetooth and a battery than the somewhat antiquated Mac/PC hard switch.
The Keychron S1 is shipping now, starting at $109 for the base model with white LEDs and your choice of switches. Upgrading to full RGB lighting will cost you $119, and a further hot-swap upgrade brings the fully-laden price to a reasonable $129. Expect more S-series keyboards in a variety of sizes over the next few months.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.