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New feature-packed Vissles keyboard accommodates fast-typing Mac users

Rarely do Mac-specific keyboards offer responsive mechanical keys, backlighting and programmable features. A new Vissles version adds wireless connectivity to the list.

There's a reason I've tested and reviewed numerous keyboards and mice. Dating to the late '90s, I've continually explored a variety of input devices. Considering professionals typically use keyboards and mice thousands of hours a year, it's important to appreciate and understand the importance these mechanical devices fulfill. Such equipment determines how we physically interact with computers, data, applications and platforms to earn a living. That's why, when I hear of a new device offering a rare combination of features, I'm intrigued.

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That's just what Vissles delivers with its new V84 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard, as shown in Figure A. Priced at $99 (on sale from a $119 list price), the keyboard ships with Mac-specific keys installed (although alternative Windows keycaps and corresponding tools for swapping them are included). Having used both Windows- and Mac-specific keyboards with Apple computers, decades of experience have taught me how much more I prefer keyboards featuring platform-specific keys, as they make it easier to instantly locate Command, Option and Control keys, as well as functions for increasing and decreasing key backlighting and display brightness.

Figure A

vissles-fig-a.jpg

The Vissles V84 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard offers Mac-specific keycaps, SP Cherry-profile mechanical keys, macro capabilities and customizable backlighting.

Image: Vissles

Connecting the Vissles keyboard wirelessly to my MacBook Pro was easy. The process required less than a minute to complete.

Working in a darkened room, the default rainbow-colored backlighting made it easy to see and identify each key. With the compact layout (the keyboard doesn't include an integrated numeric keypad), a row and column of keys are stacked at the top and right side of the board to provide additional functionality, despite the tight footprint.

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From the very first keystrokes, the initial sensation I noticed using the Vissles keyboard was just how quickly the keys respond. With the keys just 75% of traditional size, they are close together. The way they're weighted, combined with the actuation mechanism for each key, make typing incredibly fast.

Those who enjoy geeking out on the specs will understand just how light and quick typing on the keyboard actually is. The 84 keys use VS Cherry-profile linear switch mechanical keys featuring PBT keycaps boasting RGB backlighting for each key, and the board and keys themselves weigh almost 11-and-a-half ounces. About 45±5gf of operating force is required to actuate the keys, while total travel is 4mm and pretravel is 2±0.5mm. A provided gel-like wrist pad, meanwhile, weighs just a quarter ounce and provides a handy addition when typing, as the Vissle's keys sit slightly higher, as shown in Figure B, compared with many slimmer contemporary keyboards, such as Apple's Magic Keyboard.

Figure B

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Although possessing a smaller footprint, the Vissles V84 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard's keys are positioned higher than some contemporary competitors.

Image: Vissles

Unlike less-expensive models, the compact keyboard is surprisingly heavy, and that's good. The keyboard sits firm and snug on a desk and, despite its compact footprint, is not easily dislodged by inadvertent bumps.

While I don't require fancy backlighting—I really just need a backlight that, in low-light conditions, permits easily identifying each key quickly—the Vissles keyboard offers 19 different lighting effects and nine different colors you can select to illuminate the keys. Provided instructions clearly and succinctly enumerate each step for common processes, from changing backlighting to programming macros.

Whereas some wireless illuminated keyboards extinguish the backlight after a few seconds of inactivity, to understandably conserve battery life, the Vissles model packs a 3750mAh lithium battery and keeps the lights on, meaning the keys don't go dark after just a few moments of inactivity. Thankfully, the keyboard lets you know when only 20% battery life remains by flickering the Fn key backlight. Charging the battery is easy; just connect the provided USB-C cable to a standard USB power source.

Depending on setup, you may receive up to 180 hours of use between charges. Such longevity can be achieved in Bluetooth (wireless) mode by setting the brightness level to low. Raising the brightness level to the highest setting, however, still provides up to 19 hours of continuous wireless use. The keyboard can be operated in wired mode, too. 

The Vissles V84 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard with Mac-specific keys has almost everything Mac users could want, as long as they're prepared for quick response keys. While many fear mechanical keyboards for the traditional "click" sound associated with each keystroke, the keys supplied for this board, while interchangeable with compatible industry alternatives, are silent. Whether you've returned to working in the office or you're working from home, others will likely be thankful for the quiet.

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By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...