By: Ben Joubert
June 15, 2018
Have you ever noticed in science fiction stories or movies, there are always call backs to pieces of history? Maybe it is not something extremely explicit like a specific event, although that might happen, but something a bit more innocuous. Take Star Wars, for example. We have this religion that seems almost out of place with the futuristic world of Star Wars. This religion reflects practices of monks in ages past, though there are still practicing monks today. Furthermore, they use swords as weapons: Laser swords to fight in a world filled with laser guns and weapons that destroy planets. Then you have other movies, like Thor: Ragnarok, who call back to gladiator matches of old. We like to look back and weave old classics into the modern world, and in science fiction something that is familiar is what keeps us rooted in all the novelty of the created world. Similar trends occur in fantasy books, like the old technology wizards use in Harry Potter. We also experience some old fashioned aesthetics with our technology. Today, we have a keyboard that mixes the modern mechanical keyboard with the old aesthetic of a typewriter. It is the Qwerkywriter S, which promises modern functionality in an old shell. Will the old design stand up to the modern advances in keyboards while still keeping a strong root from the past? Read on to find out!
The Qwerkywriter S arrived to us here in Calgary in a medium sized brown box. It traveled all the way from California arriving safely thanks to UPS. For the most part, the entirety of the box is in good condition, although the edges and the corners are a bit beat up. There was nothing major enough to cause concern for the safety of what is inside.
Inside, we only find the Qwerkywriter S retail box with no packing material. I would have preferred to see something more to cushion the product, but luckily there was no damage at all. The Qwerkywriter S retail box definitely fits the aesthetic of the keyboard. The all-black box with the cursive writing and the old style white frame looks excellent. The clean look definitely accentuates the classy feel of the keyboard. The back of the retail box has an image of the keyboard and some information regarding the contents of the package.
After some digging, some features can be found from the manufacturer's website:
- Multi Device Wireless Connectivity - The Qwerkywriter S® can be connected to multiple wireless devices at the same time. So now you can have a mobile phone, a tablet, and a laptop all connected wirelessly to the Qwerkywriter S®.
- Wired USB mode with NKRO support - This is a fancy way of saying that in wired USB mode, Qwerkywriter S® can perform at the highest levels without dropping letters or strokes.
- Dual Scroll Knob Encoders - The Qwerkywriter S® features dual function scroll knobs that control Volume on the left knob and Mouse Scroll on the right knob.*
- Mechanical Switches - The New Qwerkywriter S® now uses the famed Cherry™ MX “clicky” switches for that ultimate tactile feedback experience.
- Integrated Tablet Stand - The Qwerkywriter S® has a built in integrated tablet stand that can accommodate comfortably up to 10.5 inch screens. It can also accommodate most 12 inch tablets as long as it’s less than 5/8 inch thick.
- Macro Return bar - The Qwerkywriter S®’s signature all metal macro programmable Return Bar defaults to the “enter” key. But you can program up to 5 characters to generate short signatures and more.
- New Scratch Resistant All Aluminum Chassis - The Qwerkywriter S® chassis is constructed entirely out of a new scratch resistant aluminum alloy for an incredible feel of quality and durability.
- Typewriter Inspired Keycaps - The beautiful, typewriter inspired 2 piece keycaps of the Qwerkywriter S® has numerous improvements, including better stability and automotive grade electroplating.
- Long Lasting Battery - The Qwerkywriter S® can function up to 1 month on a single charge depending on usage. In USB mode, the Qwerkywriter S® does not require battery power. Instead, it charges the Qwerkywriter S®.
- Dimensions - 13" x 7" x 2.5" approx. Weight is a little under 3 lbs.
The contents of the Qwerkywriter S are simple. There is a USB cable to plug the keyboard directly into a computer and a quick start guide is also included. The quick start guide outlines all the features and how to use the Bluetooth connectivity, as well as the different operating systems it will work on. This includes Android, iOS, Mac OS, and Windows. There are a couple of different functions that the quick start guide explains, that I will detail later in the review. Surrounding the keyboard in the retail packaging is plenty of soft foam, effectively keeping the keyboard in place and absorbing any damage.
My first impression of the Qwerkywriter S is that it looks awesome. The typewriter design is excellent and is probably one of the best typewriter inspired mechanical keyboards on the market today. My second impression is that this keyboard is heavy. According to the manufacturer, this keyboard is approximately under 3lbs, which translates into under 1.36kg. This makes it similar to many other mechanical keyboards on the market, but heavier than most tenkeyless models. The keyboard has what looks like an aluminum plate with rounded corners around the top and bottom. Most of the casing seems to be aluminum, including the integrated tablet stand.
The Qwerkywriter S is a tenkeyless keyboard making it slightly smaller than a full-sized keyboard, but it is not portable at all. It is definitely meant to be for a workstation at home. According to the website, the Qwerkywriter S comes in at approximately 337mm in width; at its highest point, it comes in at 64mm and 178mm in depth. For the most part, this is not massive, but still larger compared to other tenkeyless keyboards. Otherwise, the materials used for the Qwerkywriter S is excellent, and there is barely any flex to the keyboard at all. There is no wrist rest included, but I have not experienced any trouble. It probably would not fit the overall aesthetic anyway.
There are a couple of interesting choices regarding the design of the Qwerkywriter S on this side of the keyboard. The Windows key and the Alt key are swapped, which took me some time to get used to. The Qwerkytoys logo is on the key instead of the Windows logo. The Tab key is in red, but I am not sure why, and it is quite a bit smaller than the caps and shift keys, making it stand out a lot. The large metal tab is by default an Enter key, which is pretty cool. This is pretty similar to how older typewriters used this bar to shift the page to the next line. It is a programmable macro key, which can record a combination of up to sixteen keys. To record the macro, you have to press Fn and the return bar, which will cause the USB LED key to flash. To end the recording, Fn and return bar needs to be pressed again. F1 and F2 are volume keys, but there is no mute option. The scroll wheel on this side of the keyboard can also be used to adjust volume. F3 to F5 are multimedia keys. Pressing Fn in conjunction with "1", "2", or "3" will switch between which Bluetooth device is connected. I do not have a tablet, but I connected it to my phone. Connecting it was easy and using the silver button next to the Bluetooth LED indicator to switch between connections is good. It does take some time to reconnect, but it works. This also allows you to maintain multiple connections to the keyboard without having to go through the pairing process when swapping devices.
This side of the keyboard also has some more functionality. From F8 to F10 are different time modes you can set on the keyboard. This means that if the keyboard is not connected via USB, it will go to sleep after the set time. If you are connected to a tablet or phone, Fn + F12 is the return home key. The scroll wheel on this side of the keyboard is for vertical scrolling, which is super useful on a tablet, but is still fun to use on a computer. An interesting feature this keyboard also offers is both NKRO and 6KRO. NKRO is for N-key rollover, meaning that even if twenty keys were pressed at once, all of them would be registered. The same goes for 6KRO, but it is limited to six keys. Pressing Fn + Page Down will toggle NKRO. Just to note, NKRO will only work in wired mode. On this side of the keyboard, there is a power switch.
One of the best things about the Qwerkywriter S is the Cherry MX Blue keys. On mechanical keyboards, each switch is an independent part. Other types of popular keyboards in the market today are keyboards with membrane and scissor based switches. The membrane keyboard is the cheapest and has a squishy feel to it when typing, while the scissor keys are more responsive, and work well for everyday office use. The mechanical keyboard is the most expensive of the three, because each key switch is an independent part. There are a couple of different colors of switches, and what differentiates them is the actuation force. Blue switches are commonly known as switches good for typing. The feeling of the Cherry MX Blue switches is great. The feedback is crisp and clean. There is a nice and satisfying click with each key press. I did not experience anything to complain about; they were simply excellent.
The back of the Qwerkywriter S is pretty basic as most keyboards are. There are five rounded feet on the bottom of the keyboard, and they are made out of rubber to provide enough grip on a table. The panel with the two screws in the middle front in the above picture covers the battery. The battery is rechargeable and should last two to three weeks on a two to three hour charge. If the battery ever fails, it is then easy enough to change. According to the manual, the battery LED will flash if it is not properly connected or if the battery fails, but it will turn off when it is fully charged. The Bluetooth LED will flash if the battery is low. In the middle of the back of the keyboard, is the typical sticker with some more miscellaneous information. Of course, if you do not want to use it in wireless mode, you can plug it in from the back with the included USB cable.
Using the Qwerkywriter S was overall a nice experience. The genuine Cherry MX switches are excellent, providing great tactile feedback and the nice sounding click with each actuation. It took me some time to get used to the layout of the keyboard as the keys are quite close together, and this is the biggest drawback of the Qwerkywriter S. The rounded keys make it slightly more difficult to type accurately because of their close proximity. On either side of the Qwerkywriter S, there are some empty space that could have been used. If the keys were spread out slightly more it would have made for a smoother experience, which they definitely could have done without sacrificing the looks. Furthermore, even though a main part of this keyboard is its Bluetooth connectivity to tablets and other such electronics, the keyboard is smaller than it needs to be. Everything could have been extended an inch in all directions to make the entire process much smoother. I pressed two keys at once much more than usual using this keyboard. I only fully realized this difference when I switched back to my usual keyboard. However, with some practice I am sure any person can type more effectively with this keyboard. In some ways though, you could say this is part of its qwerky older styling.
The good old retro feeling of different products is usually a welcome addition, and the Qwerkywriter S is a faithful interpretation of a modern classic. The build quality is excellent with exceptional components used to provide an overall quality feel to the product. The typewriter aesthetic with the modern components provide a nice completed look -- a true work of art in my opinion. How the Qwerkywriter S also integrates functions with obsolete looking typewriter components is smart and helpful. The metal bar being used as an enter key or a programmable macro is quite nice, while the knobs being either vertical scrolling or volume are comfortable and easy to use. The Cherry MX Blue switches are also excellent, providing great feedback. The Bluetooth connectivity works quite well and it is easy to switch between multiple devices. Overall, we have an easy to use keyboard with some excellent functionality. My biggest gripe with the keyboard is the ease of typing. Over a period of three weeks, I was unable to type as effectively as I do on my usual keyboard. I would frequently press more than one key at a time. I think this could be easily fixed with the keyboard being made a little bigger to make the gaps between the keys more uniform and slightly bigger. However, this is potentially a trade-off one has to make with rounded buttons for the aesthetic of the typewriter. Qwerkytoys has done an excellent job at recreating a modern day typewriter, and much of the considerations of this keyboard are if you like this style, especially considering the price. This is by far the most expensive keyboard I have ever laid my hands on. The MSRP comes in at $400 USD, but is currently on sale for $250 USD. This is still quite expensive, but authentic art comes at a price. There are other options that have a more modern approach to the typewriter inspired keyboard like the AZIO MK Retro, but this takes the cake for a truly antique feel. The Qwerkywriter S is good and has plenty of neat features, but it does cost a pretty penny with a sacrifice in functionality.
Qwerkytoys provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that are not likely going to matter to the end user.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.4/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Qwerkywriter S typewriter inspired keyboard with Cherry MX keys is a faithful modern interpretation of a classic typewriter, but you will be paying for this objet d'art.
Do you have any comments or questions about the Qwerkywriter S? Drop by our Forums. Registration is free, and it only takes a minute!