Qw­erky­writer S Key­board re­view

The Qw­erky­writer S is a stylish, smooth-typ­ing me­chan­i­cal key­board that’d be a cinch to rec­om­mend, were it not for a num­ber of quirks.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY SÉAMUS BEL­LAMY

When typ­ing is a large part of how you make a liv­ing, the mus­cle mem­ory you de­velop while typ­ing with your key­board can be hard to shake. Be­fore re­view­ing a new key­board, I like to take some time with it to en­sure that my im­pres­sions of how it per­forms aren’t col­ored by my per­sonal pref­er­ences. Only af­ter my typ­ing is up to speed, which usu­ally hap­pens af­ter a few weeks of us­ing a key­board, do I dig in.

With that in mind, the Qw­erky­writer S ( go. mac­world.com/qwks) me­chan­i­cal key­board is very pretty and types beau­ti­fully. Un­for­tu­nately, its de­sign (as its name sug­gests) con­tains a num­ber of quirks that keep it from achiev­ing per­fec­tion.

BUILD QUAL­ITY AND DE­SIGN

The Qw­erky­writer S is ex­cep­tion­ally built. Its rounded, matte black alu­minum body and chrome ac­cents ab­so­lutely nails the aes­thetic of a mid-cen­tury typewriter, with

a look that re­minds me of my old Rem­ing­ton por­ta­ble. It’s heavy like a typewriter too, and it will stay ex­actly where you put it. Given the propen­sity of many lighter Blue­tooth key­boards to slide around on my desk as I type, this heft is a wel­come fea­ture.

It took about a week to be­come ac­cus­tom to the Qw­erky­writer’s round key caps. Each of the plas­tic key caps is fin­ished with clear, easy-to-read sten­cil­ing that feels like it will last for years be­fore fad­ing. A slight in­den­ta­tion in each cap makes it easy for your dig­its to peck out the key.

Since the Qw­erky­writer’s key caps are round—as op­posed to the neat chick­let­style keys that Mac users are ac­cus­tomed to—the spac­ing be­tween the keys can feel mas­sive at times. When comes to pro­vid­ing an over­all sound, me­chan­i­cal key­board­ing ex­pe­ri­ence , the Qw­erky­writer S, with its Cherry MX switches, de­liv­ers. The key­board’s rollover is ex­cel­lent, as are the pitch and travel of its keys. Touch typ­ists (pro­vided they can live with the feel of the round key caps,) will love this thing.

The Qw­erky­writer can be paired with three dif­fer­ent de­vices—an iphone, imac, and ipad, for ex­am­ple—and switch be­tween them with the push of a but­ton. If you do choose to use it with a tablet or smart­phone, you’ll be glad to know that the key­board comes with a built-in stand, po­si­tioned to make it look like the de­vice you’re us­ing is a piece of pa­per fed into a typewriter. How­ever, the po­si­tion of the stand can­not be ad­justed, so taller users may quickly find them­selves work­ing with a kink in their neck.

I found that a charge of the key­board’s bat­tery would last me for around two week’s worth of writ­ing. The key­board is charged via a mi­crousb to USB-A con­nec­tion. That it wasn’t equipped with USB-C con­nec­tiv­ity, given the grow­ing dom­i­nance of the stan­dard in the com­put­ing world, feels like a se­ri­ous mis­step.

QW­ERKY­WRITER S QUIRKS

The Qw­erky­writer’s de­sign is meant to be a throw­back to a time when typ­ing was an en­tirely me­chan­i­cal af­fair. Back in the day, to ad­vance or re­treat in the page you’re typ­ing, you had to thread it, for­wards or back, us­ing a wheel at ei­ther end of the typewriter’s car­riage. The Qw­erky­writer S has those wheels; one al­lows you to scroll through the text that you’re work­ing on (it’ll scroll through web­pages, as well); the other wheel is a vol­ume con­trol. I love the con­cept, but I sel­dom used the wheels. Doc­u­ment scrolling is far eas­ier with a mouse or track­pad, or, on an IOS de­vice, a fin­ger flick. What’s more, the key­board’s scroll knob doesn’t work across the board on all text-based apps in IOS. This proved more than a lit­tle frus­trat­ing dur­ing test­ing.

The Qw­erky­writer’s most iconic fea­ture, a work­ing car­riage re­turn/en­ter lever, can be prob­lem­atic. Com­puter users have spent decades hit­ting the En­ter key to be­gin a new para­graph. Even most type­writ­ers, in their fi­nal years of word pro­cess­ing dom­i­nance, did this. As a vin­tage typewriter afi­cionado, I dig the aes­thetic of the Qw­erky­writer’s car­riage re­turn bar, but I can’t get be­hind its func­tion­al­ity. Ask­ing typ­ists to com­mit to us­ing the lever to move to a new para­graph in their writ­ing is ask­ing a lot of their mus­cle mem­ory. Ap­par­ently, the key­board’s de­sign­ers thought so too: the key­board, de­spite be­ing equipped with the car­riage re­turn lever, it also has a con­ven­tional En­ter key.

As Qw­erky­toys is quick to point out, the car­riage re­turn bar can be re­pro­grammed with other macros. Even af­ter do­ing this, I found my­self hap­pier when I ig­nored the car­riage re­turn as a fea­ture.

Qw­erky­writer’s car­riage knobs are just as su­per­flu­ous: the key­board comes with vol­ume keys baked into it as well. This fail­ure to com­mit to the con­ceit of be­ing a com­puter key­board that’s de­signed to look, feel and for the most part, op­er­ate as a man­ual typewriter once did is, per­haps, the Qw­erky­writer’s great­est flaw.

When used with Ap­ple de­vices, im­por­tant, of­ten used keys, like the Home But­ton for IOS, and me­dia con­trol keys can only be ac­cessed while hold­ing down the key­board’s Func­tion key. Not­ing that the Quirky­writer was sport­ing Print Screen, Home, and Page Up/down but­tons, I also gave the key­board a spin with my Mi­crosoft Sur­face Go. Nav­i­gat­ing key­board short­cuts in Win­dows 10 proved no eas­ier.

BOT­TOM LINE

The Qw­erky­writer S feels nice to type on and is well built, but its sig­na­ture fea­tures feel more like a cu­rios­ity than a ne­ces­sity. If you fa­vor func­tion­al­ity over aes­thet­ics, you may cringe at the Qw­erky­writer’s high price. ■

The Quirky­writer S’s car­riage re­turn bar com­pletes the key­board’s vin­tage look, but feels su­per­flu­ous.

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