Many of the Mac keyboards we use everyday have some rather boring attributes; they’re flat and sleek, but that’s about it. Backlighting is limited only to the MacBook Pro line, and it has an uncanny resemblance to that place where Jony Ive makes his videos — it gives off a white glow. If you want a keyboard that has the wonderful feel of a mechanical keyboard and that has a variety of colorful backlight options, look no further than the Vinpok Taptek Mechanical Keyboard (US$199, only $89 to early-bird supporters on Indiegogo).
A lot of Mac users love mechanical keyboards because they provide much more tactile feedback than the slimline keyboards made by Apple (think of the MacBook keyboards or the Magic Keyboard as examples). Traditionally, they’re also quite noisy with a loud clacking sound, but that’s fortunately not the case with the Taptek. In day to day use, it’s only slightly louder than the keyboard on my MacBook Pro.
The Taptek is designed out of the box for use with the Mac, with the common layout featuring the command, option, and control keys in the usual locations. If you’ve typed on an Apple keyboard before, you’ll have no problems using the Taptek because the layout is identical.
Taptek can be used either through Bluetooth as a wireless keyboard, or through USB in a wired mode. A three-position switch on the front of the keyboard (closest to the computer) turns Taptek on and off, or selects between wired and Bluetooth modes. There’s a micro-USB port for charging (Bluetooth mode) or connectivity (wired mode), as well as one more switch to go from the macOS/iOS mode to a Windows/Android mode.
For those who wish to use Taptek with a Windows machine or Android device, Vinpok will be including additional keys making it simple to get the usual Windows keys on the keyboard so it’s not so “Apple-ish”.
The biggest feature is the backlighting of this keyboard, which I’ll go into much more detail about in the next section of the review. Let’s just say that it puts backlighting on any Apple product to shame.
You can pair the Taptek keyboard with up to 3 devices at once, switching between those devices by using the Fn key and the Q, W or E keys.
Weight-wise, Taptek runs 1.15 pounds (520 grams). Its dimensions are 11.06 inches wide, 4.58 inches deep, and .52 inches high at the back end (281mm wide, 116.4mm deep, maximum height of 13.2mm). It’s available in both silver with white keys and space gray with black keys, perfect for matching just about any current Mac.
Pairing Taptek with my iMac was fast and simple. To pair, you simply turn on the keyboard using the three-way switch, then press Fn + ~. That turns the indicator key (which has a light bulb icon on it) blue, and it flashes until pairing is complete.
The top row of keys on the keyboard can be used to perform standard actions like brightening or darkening the screen, opening Mission Control and Launchpad, and controlling volume and playback of video or audio. Those keys can also be used as standard function keys by pressing the Fn key — that’s identical to the way that the Apple keyboards work.
The feel of Taptek is nice. I was able to adjust my typing to the slightly greater play in the keys in no time at all, and as I mentioned earlier I was pleased to hear that the keyboard doesn’t have the irritating “clack” noise of other mechanical keyboards. All of the keycaps are removable — this should help in cleaning the keyboard, and can be useful in playing pranks on people by moving keys around…
If there’s one key feature of the Taptek keyboard, it’s the backlighting. The video above shows you some of the 20 effects (including backlighting off) that are available with this keyboard. Not only can you change the backlighting effects and colors, but for the multi-color effects it’s possible to change the speed of change. Add to that five different levels of brightness, and you have a keyboard that has astounding flexibility in backlighting.
At a suggested retail price of $199, the Taptek might be out of reach for many Mac users. That’s why I suggest supporting the Indiegogo campaign where early backers can get the keyboard for as little as $89 — that’s $10 less than Apple’s Magic Keyboard. This keyboard is real — I’ve been using one for almost a month — so there’s no concern that the company won’t deliver.
The Taptek keyboard also feels like it’s going to hold up for a long time. Vinpok says that the switches for the keys are designed for 50 million presses, so there’s a good chance the Taptek will outlast your Mac…or you.