No offense to the mechanical keyboard community, but I just don’t love traditional setups with tall keys. But when it comes to high-quality low-profile alternatives, pickings are slim. The best known options are Logitech’s MX Mechanical line, along with more recent entries from the likes of Keychron, Nuphy and Lofree. But none of them quite hit the spot. But at CES 2024 in Las Vegas, I may have found what I’ve been searching for in Monokei’s Systems.
Featuring a 75 percent layout and available in either Cupertino Silver or Stockholm Night, the Systems has a gorgeous minimalist design that would look equally good mated to a Mac or connected to a beefy gaming rig. And thanks to support for both Bluetooth 5.1 and a dedicated 2.4Ghz wireless dongle, pairing it to whatever OS you prefer should be a breeze (Systems is compatible with macOS, iOS, Windows and Android). The keyboard feels heavier than it looks too; the top plate is heavy aluminum and inside is a760mAh battery.
Its Magnet Mount system lets you change out the top or bottom cases for decorative faceplates without needing to pull out tools. Though I’d be hesitant to mess up the Systems’s serene facade, no matter how cute those Spy X Family accents are.
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But it wasn’t until I actually got to type on it that I became sold. That’s because, on top of Monokei’s new Series 2 keycaps that have Cherry MX-compatible stems and comfy gentle scallop, the Kailh Choc V2 switches used in the Systems feel like a dream. You can choose between tactile or the silent linear ones that I tried, which had some of the smoothest key travel I’ve felt on a pre-built low-profile keyboard, plus the 43gf actuation weight is nearly ideal (for me at least). Of course, if you prefer a different kind of switch, the PCB is hot swappable so you can swap in something else. But the good vibes don’t stop there: Thanks to Monokei’s sock gasket system, the whole board strikes a good balance between firmness and bounce.
It’s almost like someone went and made my ideal keyboard without telling me, so when I stumbled upon it at CES in the depths of Hall G at the Venetian, it felt like finding buried treasure. Well except for the two features I think Monokei missed, because sadly Systems doesn’t have backlighting and there aren’t any adjustable feet for changing its pitch.
Now, I must admit it’s still early in my journey to find the ultimate low-profile keyboard. I’ve only tested about half a dozen in the last year or so, but Systems has immediately jumped to the front of the pack. It’s just a simple, chiclet-style keyboard done really well. And with a price of $189, Monokei’s latest creation is actually kind of affordable, at least as far the high-end mechanical keyboards go.
The Monokei Systems will be available as part of a group buy with an estimated delivery date in late Q2 2024.
We’re reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.
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