Rymek mechanical keyboard review

Matt Sayer 14 June 2018 NEWS

Quick Verdict
While its classical design is impressive, the Rymek's spongy, imprecise keys make typing far more awkward than it should be.

The Good

  • Striking design.
  • Works well with mobile devices.

The Bad

  • Keys are imprecise and slippery.
  • Cramped key layout.
  • Weight and size undermines its value as a portable device.

There's no lack of competition in the mechanical keyboard market. Big brands like Razer, Corsair, Logitech and HyperX offer dozens of different models catering to various budgets, actuation preferences and love for RGB lighting. Years of iteration has seen these keyboards find an excellent balance of comfort, control and style, albeit one that might be starting to feel a little too familiar for some key-clackers.

This is where KnewKey's Rymek keyboard comes in. Styled after an early-20th-century typewriter, the anachronistic device aims to attract a new breed of computer user to the world of mechanical keyboards by evoking a more classical feel than your typical gaming-focused board. Coupled with Bluetooth support for mobile devices, the Rymek certainly makes for a distinct first impression, but how does it hold up against its more-established competition? Let's take a look.

Design

In a space dominated by hard edges and strobing LEDs, the Rymek is quite a looker. From its black body to its gold key caps to its chrome trim, the whole package exudes the kind of elegance that wouldn't be out of place alongside a roaring fire, a velvet armchair and the warm hum of a vinyl record.

Thankfully, this old-fashioned aesthetic doesn’t extend to the keyboard's ergonomics. Where traditional typewriters were often nasty with sharp edges and awkward angles, the Rymek is all smooth curves and subtle gradients. Even the keys themselves are rounded to mimic the saddle shape many typewriters featured back in their heyday.

As lovely as this design is, it's not without its flaws. Much like the typewriters of yore, the Rymek is one heavy device despite its relatively compact footprint. This isn't too much of an issue for desktop users, but KnewKey is positioning the Rymek as a mobile-friendly device – the keyboard even comes with a detachable metal stand for use with iPads and tablets. As heavy as it is, though, I wouldn't relish the idea of lugging the Rymek around while I'm out and about, as I have no doubt my shoulders would be burning after just a few hours with it jostling around inside my bag.

Weight aside, the Rymek's general design isn't exactly ideal for transport, either. Most keyboards opt for a sleek, shallow profile that lends itself well to sliding in a backpack. The Rymek, on the other hand, juts out at the top in such a way that it catches on loose fabric and other items you might have jammed in your bag with it. For a purportedly portable device, this is a significant issue that greatly impact its versatility.

Performance

While the Rymek's design is flawed but still impressive, it doesn’t fare so well when it's time to put finger to key. Typing simply doesn't flow the way it should on a modern mechanical keyboard, and much of this comes down to the Rymek's cramped layout. Keys are small and have a tendency to slide sideways when pushed, a problem that is only exacerbated by their slippery key caps. Worse, those key caps lack any sort of ridging to prevent your fingers from flying off and hitting other keys.

This makes clean typing far more difficult than it should be. In my time with the Rymek, I struck more unintended keys than I have with any physical keyboard I've used in recent history. I expect long-term use would eventually eliminate or at least reduce these errors, but it's not an issue I've encountered before with any mechanical keyboard I've reviewed.

The keys themselves aren't fantastic, either. Despite packing Cherry MX switches, they feel spongy and imprecise, with the space bar in particular exhibiting a troubling amount of wobble. Each keypress produces a sharp clanging sound, quite unlike the pleasant clack of a typical mechanical keyboard. Perhaps this will appeal to those with fond memories of using a typewriter, but for me it simply made the device feel cheap – which it certainly isn't.

Features

What the Rymek lacks in performance, it attempts to makes up for in versatility. One of the key ways it does this is with mobile compatibility, which it delivers on quite well. Any phone or tablet that supports Bluetooth input devices will work with the Rymek, and I had no trouble pairing it to my Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Once connected, the keyboard proved responsive and reliable, exhibiting none of the input issues like missed or double-buffered keystrokes that I've encountered with some wireless keyboards in the past. Alt-tabbing, highlighting text and making use of keyboard shortcuts still feels novel on a mobile device, and when combined with the attachable tablet stand, using the Rymek with my Galaxy tablet had a certain undeniable satisfaction to it. Some of this comes down to the fact there simply aren't many Bluetooth mechanical keyboards out there, but even so, the Rymek's mobile support remains impressive.

For those who prefer the reliability of a wired connection, the Rymek helpfully features two micro USB ports on its back, one on either side. This is handy for minimising the distance the USB cable has to cover – a necessity given the included USB cable is barely 60cm long.

While it doesn't go all-in with the flashy RGB lighting that has become the norm among mechanical keyboards, the Rymek does feature white backlighting on its keys plus an adjustable brightness setting. It might not be quite as eye-catching as vibrant RGB, but it is useful for typing in low-light environments.

As with most modern keyboards, the Rymek includes multimedia controls for pausing and skipping music tracks. Nothing revolutionary there, but I do appreciate that the keyboard includes a dedicated volume knob styled to look like a typewriter's paper roller.

Verdict

KnewKey's Rymek keyboard feels like a niche product within an already niche market. The spongy, slippery keys make it a poor choice for keen mechanical keyboard users, while its steep price tag limits its appeal to the more casual audience. Support for mobile devices does go some way towards justifying its cost, but this is undermined by the keyboard's weight, bulk and general anti-portable design.

Nevertheless, the Rymek's anachronistic typewriter design is striking, and as a pure showpiece it sets itself apart from any other mechanical keyboard on the market. If you're more interested in form over function, or you simply want to relive the feeling of typing on a typewriter – warts and all – the Rymek is worth looking into. For everyone else, though, it simply doesn't stack up against the competition.

Pricing and availability

The Rymek keyboard is available for purchase via Knewkey's Indiegogo campaign. It retails for US$199, but early backers on Indiegogo can buy in for the special price of US$99.


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