Keychron's Q2 is a compact take on its popular customizable keyboard

It's a Q1 with no F (keys) given.

James Trew / Engadget

Keychron pleasantly surprised mechanical keyboard fans when it announced the Q1. It was the company’s first foray into fully customizable keyboards, and we liked it a lot. Today it’s the turn of the Q2, which is a smaller (65% or no “function key”) version of the Q1. Despite the reduced footprint, it retails for the same price, starting at $149 for the barebone or $169 if you want it fully assembled – cheaper than much of the competition.

When we tested the Q1 we liked it a lot. It offered the same level of configuration as the much-loved GMMK Pro for about $100 less. That said, the selling point of the GMMK Pro (in this author’s opinion) is all about those luxurious “Lubed Panda” switches and the firm, responsive typing experience. The “Panda” is GMMK’s own “switch” which for those that don’t hang out at Drop and/or use a “mech” are the mechanical part of the key – the important bit, really, as that’s mostly what will define how the keyboard “feels.”

As with the Q1, the Q2 is compatible with VIA configuration software (and thus QMK) which easily allows you to remap keys to almost anything, create macros and more. Also like the Q1 (and the GMMK Pro and increasingly others) there’s the option to replace the top-right-most key (Insert) with a clickable rotary for volume and media control.

I’ll admit, after using the GMMK Pro for a while now, I find the Gateron Reds that came with the Q2 a little flacid by comparison, but that’s the joy of a customizable keyboard, you can use whatever switches you like (or change out more or less any other part). You could even load it with the Pandas if you wish, though that would require a (lot of) extra spend.

The Q2 remains USB only (no wireless) but is still compatible with either Windows or Mac and the corresponding OS-specific keycaps are included in the box. It’s also just as rugged and well built as the Q1 with the all-metal casing. You can choose between three colors thereof: Black, gray and navy blue.

Ultimately, the selling point of the Q2 boils down to whether you prefer a compact keyboard or to have access to physical function keys (they’re still accessible here with shortcuts obviously).

The Q2 is also joined by some other relatively new additions. Keychron is prolific if nothing else. In particular, there’s the lightweight/70% K14 which is both wireless and has hot-swappable switches for a more affordable on-the-go option that retails for a modest $59. The company also recently unveiled its first mouse wired the M1. It’s visually quite similar to the Razer Viper ($39) but also bears more than a passing resemblance to the Glorious O (also from the same people behind the GMMK Pro).

Orders for the Keychron Q2 are open as of today.

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