Review: Vissles V1 is a fun and loud mechanical keyboard

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 21
The Vissles V1 is a full-on loud mechanical keyboard for Mac or iPad, with great sound in a compact, wireless form factor.

Vissles V1 wireless mechanical keyboard
Vissles V1 wireless mechanical keyboard


This is not for you if you're uncertain about mechanical keyboards. The Vissles V1 makes no concessions to anyone moving from a chiclet-style keyboard, such as the Apple Magic Keyboard.

Instead, it feels like computer keyboards used to -- and it sounds like they used to, as well.

Easily the best part of this keyboard is that it is actually fun to use. The clacking loud keys and the feel of its travel as you press down make it all ridiculously entertaining.

There is an issue, then, of how long that fun lasts. If this were just a toy keyboard, then it might make all the right noises but soon be wearying to type on.

As it is, while you never forget you're using a mechanical keyboard, it keeps on working well.

You do feel that you need to have your hands hovering over the keys, as there's no built-in wrist support. Overall the design is much higher than, say, that of the similar width Keychron K3.

Design -- switches and keys

Vissles describes this as chiefly for "nonstop gamers and typers," meaning that it's meant to be hard-wearing. That applies whichever form of this keyboard you choose, with your options being between different key types.

The keyboard is offered for the same price in a choice of red, blue, and brown switches. As ever, you can't truly know which key type suits you until you've tried them. However, very broadly, the blue version is the loudest and needs the firmest press of the keys.

In comparison, red keys are generally quieter -- but it was the red version that AppleInsider tested, and it is loud enough. None of these options are going to be quiet enough for you to remain friends with co-workers in the same office.

Left: Vissles V1. Right: Keychron K3. (Back right: Apple Magic Keyboard.)
Left: Vissles V1. Right: Keychron K3. (Back right: Apple Magic Keyboard.)


The Vissles V1 is a 75% size keyboard, what's known as a "tenkeyless" one -- so it lacks a numeric keypad. Certain keys can be swapped out, and Vissles provides three alternative keycaps for Mac and Windows if you need proper key labeling.

As shipped, it has the Mac's Option, Command, and Cmd keys fitted. Included in the box are the Windows key and two Alt key alternatives.

Design -- backlighting, typing angle and connectivity

As used straight out the box, the Vissles V1 is a high keyboard, standing around twice the height of the Keychron K3. There is no way to lower it, but there are optional extra feet to raise and angle it.

This footbar, as Vissles calls it, is really a pair of magnetic footpads that raise the back of the keyboard by 6%. It obviously doesn't reduce how high a keyboard is, but it does make a marked difference to the typing angle.

Regardless of the angle or the switches used, the keyboard comes with 9 single-color monochromatic backlighting or 19 dynamic effects.

There is absolutely no point or benefit to how many strobing, flashing, and moving color effects there are, especially not if you are a touch typist who doesn't need to look at the keys. Yet the bright lights, the vivid colors, and the moving patterns are deliciously mesmerizing.

That really rather sums up the keyboard. You don't need it, but it's a treat to use.

In that use, Vissles claims an average of 180 hours of typing with monochrome backlighting when using it as a wireless keyboard.

It does ship with a USB-C cable that's used for charging, and unlike some other similar keyboards, there is no obvious option to swap from Bluetooth to a wired connection quickly. You can plug in the USB-C cable and then flick the keyboard's on/off switch.

The on/off switch is on the underside of the unit, and regardless of which position it's in, the keyboard will work if there's a cable attached.

No one really needs strobing, muliut-colour backlighting but it's fun to have
No one really needs strobing, muliut-colour backlighting but it's fun to have


For wireless connections, the Vissles V1 has the ability to pair with up to five devices. That's more than many other Bluetooth wireless keyboards, but if it can connect to more, in practice the Vissles V1 isn't as good at connecting from afar.

This is definitely meant to be used on your desk, in front of your Mac, or iPad. Take the keyboard away, even a few feet, and the connection is spotty.

Should you buy the Vissles V1

At $89, this is a little more than the Keychron K3, which offers a more low-height, compact design. The Vissles V1 needs a more definite press on the keys than that model, and that pressure is rewarded with a satisfying clacking kind of sound.

It's not for someone unsure about swapping from chiclet keyboards. Instead, it definitely needs a whole-hearted commitment to mechanical keyboards, but that's no bad thing.

Pros

  • Loud and strong
  • Enjoyable typing experience
  • Able to switch quickly between give devices
  • Comes with many backlighting options

Cons

  • Higher than alternatives
  • Bluetooth distance is quite short

Rating 4 out of 5

Where to buy

The Vissles V1 mechanical keyboard can be bought from Amazon for $89.
dewme

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    Save your money , go to goodwill there you  will find plenty of perfectly good high travel clunky  keyboards for  $2 each. 
    lkrupplibertyandfree
  • Reply 2 of 7
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 8,921member
    Save your money , go to goodwill there you  will find plenty of perfectly good high travel clunky  keyboards for  $2 each. 
    Amen, brother, amen.
    libertyandfree
  • Reply 3 of 7
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,094administrator
    lkrupp said:
    Save your money , go to goodwill there you  will find plenty of perfectly good high travel clunky  keyboards for  $2 each. 
    Amen, brother, amen.
    You could, but those probably don't have mechanical switches. Really depends on what you're looking for in a keyboard.
    cgWerksneoncat
  • Reply 4 of 7
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,627member
    I think to be fair, the height should have ALSO been compared to other similar keyboards, not the K3, as the K3 is exceptional in terms of being a very low-profile mechanical keyboard. I'm guessing this one is fairly similar to nearly every other non-low-profile mechanical keyboard out there, right?

    Also, as I've found out talking about so many things (like fan noise, for example) that loud/quiet are incredibly subjective. For example, some people think MacBook Pros running all-out are quite quiet, and I guess they are compared to some desktop gaming PC, but not compared to an iMac Pro or a new M1 Mac (or even my 2018 Mac mini with Turbo Boost turned off).

    I mention this because I ran across a video where someone actually compared a Keychron K3 with a couple different key types against a MacBook Pro. There was a *bit* more tonal 'tick,' or whatever you want to call it, to the sound of the keys, but I was kind of shocked that the loudness or noise wasn't really that much different. Now, I suppose that's because the K3 low-profile keys aren't quite as noisy as some of these other mechanical keyboards (that's the impression I get)?

    Ultimately, I think I need a couple keyboards. I'm going to keep my Apple Magic Keyboard, because sometimes I actually need a fairly quiet keyboard (like to use while recording a video or podcast), but most of the time, I don't think these keyboards are THAT noisy that it will drive the family from the home or anything like that. We used to all use mechanical (or similarly noisy) keyboards until these new 'chiclet' keyboards came about, and we all lived through it OK. That said, some of the mechanical keyboards I've played with in stores seem rather obnoxious, and I don't recall *most* keyboards years ago as being quite that bad.

    My big dilemma right now is picking between the blue/brown (probably mechanical low-profile Gateron like the K3... AVOID the opticals!), as I don't have anywhere I know to try them. I'd probably be happy with either, but want one the closest to what I remember from the Apple Extended II (which I realize neither is going to match).
    John_
  • Reply 5 of 7
    I have Keychron K2 and K8. They both look higher/talker. The K3 is a low profile board. 

    Also a 75% is not a tenkeyless (or 85%), which has a separate section to the right for the cursor keys and ins/del/home/end. A 75% is basically just a 65% with the function key row on top. 
    cgWerksdewme
  • Reply 6 of 7
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,392member
    I haven’t been able to use a traditional keyboard since I started using Mac laptops 20 years ago. I’ve absolutely love the keyboards on all of my Macs.  My main computer is a 2015 MBP.  When I have to switch to my work Surface and it’s detachable keyboard, I can’t type.  It’s much smaller of course, and to be fair I can’t stand iPad keyboard products either.  One thing I’ve really despised over the years though is the full-sized mechanical keyboards I had to use from time to time. It’s like I’m transported back to high school typing class (well, probably not that bad considering we were using old-school electric typewriters, even in the 1990s).  
  • Reply 7 of 7
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,627member
    sdw2001 said:
    One thing I’ve really despised over the years though is the full-sized mechanical keyboards I had to use from time to time. It’s like I’m transported back to high school typing class (well, probably not that bad considering we were using old-school electric typewriters, even in the 1990s).  
    I'm curious if you've tried a good one, though. Nearly every PC I've had to use over many years has had an absolutely abysmal keyboard (if that's what you mean by standard or mechanical). Did you ever use something like an Apple Extended II?

    I haven't put much time into a mechanical keyboard for years, so yes I am a bit scared that I'll invest $100+ and end up back on my Apple Magic Keyboard (or similar). But, I sure remember that AEII being far better than any PC keyboard I've tried. I've played (at the store) with a few gaming keyboards and think I'd be pretty happy with the better of them (and I think a good WASD or Keytron is going to be better than those, as most are poor quality or are setup for gaming... ie. red switches, instead of typing... ie. blue/brown).
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