Qwerkytoys Qwerkywriter Mechanical Keyboard Review

Most mainstream keyboards today follow one of two design aesthetics: boring black slab or neon stealth fighter. The Qwerkywriter is notable for taking a different path. This mechanical keyboard has a decidedly retro look that imitates an old-fashioned typewriter. Like they say, it's what's on the inside that counts, right? The Qwerkywriter has all the accoutrements of a modern keyboard with support for a wired microUSB connection or Bluetooth wireless.

You'll pay a lot for the privilege of having a hipster typing machine, though. The Qwerkywriter used to retail for a whopping $349, which is more than twice as expensive as a good-quality full-sized mechanical keyboard. Even so, the inventory sold out. The company is taking orders again, though, and it's dropped the price down to a still expensive but less ludicrous $239.

Specifications

This keyboard is a lot smaller than a full-sized board, and that alone may put some people off. We would caution you not to judge a keyboard by its size, though. The Qwerkywriter uses what's known in keyboard parlance as a 75% layout. You have the alpha keys, modifiers, number row, and a function row. Along the right side is a column of additional keys like page up/down and home, as well as the arrow keys.

If you don't absolutely need a number pad, this is an efficient, ergonomic layout. Your mouse remains closer, so you don't have to reach as far to hit all the keys. However, the smaller design also means you'll miss a few other things commonly found on larger boards, like dedicated media keys and a number pad.

There's one dedicated macro key on this board--the big, shiny, silver, retro-looking Return bar.  By default, the Return bar is a return key (makes sense). However, you can program it with a macro that has up to five keystrokes. Hold Fn + Enter to input the keystrokes for your macro, then pull the bar down at any time to trigger it. (If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a grand total of one macro.) It's not the most practical, but this keyboard really isn't about practicality. Case in point, if you don't let the bar flip back freely after activating it, it tends to get stuck partway and crowds the Escape key.

This is a hefty keyboard for its size at 2.75 pounds—that's as heavy as some full-sized boards. Part of that is the 1,000mAh internal battery that keeps the Qwerkywriter running on Bluetooth (it promises three months of juice), but it's also got an aluminum case. It also has a faux paper carriage, complete with vestigial knobs to complete the illusion.

We’re not the sort to turn our nose up at a heavy keyboard, but the added weight doesn't do the Qwerkywriter any favors. The back of the keyboard has a tablet stand, so the designers envision you pairing this keyboard with your tablet and presumably hauling it around someplace--but the keyboard is a little bulky for that.

MORE: Best Deals

MORE: How We Test Mechanical Keyboards

MORE: Mechanical Keyboard Switch Testing Explained

MORE: All Keyboard Content

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
8 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • cryoburner
    Quote:
    It also has a faux paper carriage, complete with vestigial knobs to complete the illusion.

    It seems like a missed opportunity to not turn those knobs into volume dials or something. Maybe volume for one, and a scroll-wheel for the other?

    Quote:
    We’re not the sort to turn our nose up at a heavy keyboard, but the added weight doesn't do the Qwerkywriter any favors. The back of the keyboard has a tablet stand, so the designers envision you pairing this keyboard with your tablet and presumably hauling it around someplace--but the keyboard is a little bulky for that.

    I imagine that the extra weight could help keep everything stable when tapping and swiping on a larger tablet though. It may be a bit bulky to carry around everywhere, but as something one keeps at home, or in an office, it might not be bad.

    The price is certainly a bit high though, and it would only be natural to expect a more premium build quality at that kind of price range. Compared to an actual vintage typewriter, the whole thing looks a bit plasticky, and it could have used some actual metal on its exterior. They should have also made sure it had at least full 6-key rollover.
  • steve15180
    I keep reading that green switches are too heavy for typing. While I'm dating myself,
    I get the idea that no one has ever used an actual typewriter ever. Green switches are
    nothing compared to a mechanical typewriter. I guess that's why I like my unicomp
    keyboard (buckling spring) better than most.
  • vdorta
    Another vote here for a Unicomp keyboard and for the same reason!
  • Zaporro
    Hipsters dream come true
  • brianmin2011
    We love Tom's Hardware and we appreciate the thorough review. Unfortunately, this product is nearly 3 years old and we have a new version Qwerkywriter S www.qwerkywriter.com that address every issue brought forth. We now use Cherry MX, brand new PCB with much more robust multi-device bluetooth, NKRO USB, new Keycap design with smoother throw, and more. We are a tiny boutique company so we do our best to keep prices as low as possible. This isn't a money grab but a reality of what we need to do to stay in business - with so many copycats since 2014 when we funded via Kickstarter! Thanks! :)
  • scolaner
    Anonymous said:
    I keep reading that green switches are too heavy for typing. While I'm dating myself,
    I get the idea that no one has ever used an actual typewriter ever. Green switches are
    nothing compared to a mechanical typewriter. I guess that's why I like my unicomp
    keyboard (buckling spring) better than most.


    If they aren't too heavy *for you* for typing, then they aren't too heavy for typing. :)
  • cryoburner
    Anonymous said:
    Unfortunately, this product is nearly 3 years old and we have a new version Qwerkywriter S www.qwerkywriter.com that address every issue brought forth. We now use Cherry MX, brand new PCB with much more robust multi-device bluetooth, NKRO USB, new Keycap design with smoother throw, and more.

    Hey, and even volume and scrolling for the knobs. : P

    Tom's does tend to be a bit slow with some of their reviews though. : D
  • Bob_Merlin
    It's way cool but at $498 on Amazon, I won't be buying one soon!