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Retro Typewriter-Inspired Keyboard Has JBL Speakers, too

KnewKey DJ88
(Image credit: Gloture)

Did you ever wish for a combined typewriter style keyboard, laptop/tablet stand and Bluetooth speaker? If so, the KnewKey DJ88 might have been designed just for you. This product is currently featured on Gloture Japan, a crowdfunding support and digital marketing business that helps lesser known products get noticed.

Sometimes a device is greater than the sum of its parts, as it works so well. We hope this is the case here, as the asking price of ¥57,470 + tax ticket price (approx $460) is expensive. So, we better have a good look at the KnewKey DJ88's individual components and the device as a whole to give it a fair trial.

(Image credit: Gloture)

As a keyboard first and foremost, it would seem best practice to look at this feature before any others. Immediately, you can see that the KnewKey DJ88 goes with the vintage typewriter aesthetic. It has rounded keys (83 of them) and is more compact than most TKL keyboards as it squashes the inverted 'T' arrow cluster and quick page navigation keys to the right, with no gaps. The arrow keys can double up for audio volume and LED lighting brightness adjustment keys in combination with the function key. At the top edge of the device platform there are knobs for quick adjustments of volume and brightness, as well as audio track selection.  

We also notice that the keyboard layout includes Apple-centric CMD keys, but usually these work perfectly as Windows keys in most versions of Windows. The power key is to the top right of the keyboard.

Under the rounded keycaps are 'blue' feel mechanical keyswitches. These are perhaps the best choice of an approximation of a typewriter, providing both an audible and tactile click to confirm a key actuation.

KnewKey DJ88 specifications

Keyboard

3-key dual mode mechanical keyboard with US 83 key layout and 'blue axis' mechanical switches

Audio

360 degree surround stereo sound by Harman JBL

Stand

Carry handle, slot for tablet or phone, extending support bracket for laptops

Supported OS

Windows, Mac, iOS, Android (PC, laptop, pad, mobile phone)

Connectivity

Wired USB and Bluetooth connections to up to three devices simultaneously

Built-in battery

Audio-Lithium Battery 7.2V 2200mAh , Keyboard-Lithium battery 7.2V 2200mAh,

Charging type

Audio-DC charge, Keyboard-USB-A charging

Input Power

DC5V±0.25V/2A

Size /weight

346 x 233 x 110mm, approx 2.4kg

The KnewKey DJ88 features what is claimed to be "high spec" wide-range 360 degree surround stereo sound by Harman JBL. Users should benefit from the 45mm Harman drivers combined with a 4D Bass subwoofer. Built into an aluminum die-cast chassis, one might expect a punchy and resonant response from the audio subsystem "that goes beyond laptop speakers."

It looks highly convenient to pull up the handle and angle a smartphone or tablet into the top slot to start editing with the KnewKey DJ88. However, there doesn't appear to be a facility for changing the angle of the mobile device. If you want to hit your coffee shop with the KnewKey DJ88 and your laptop, things look like they will be somewhat more complicated. It looks like a laptop user will have to place their trust in an unattached stand that sites behind the speaker to enjoy this input device and speaker with their laptop. This might cause an accident if you feel the need to reposition the keyboard on the table without due care and attention.

Using the KnewKey DJ88 with a laptop requires use of the stand (right) (Image credit: Gloture)

The ¥57,470 + tax ticket price (approx $460) is pretty high for a keyboard, even a stylish mechanical model that folds in an adaptable stand, and integrates a quality 360 degree audio Bluetooth 5.0 speaker system. If this device is something you like the look of and you find yourself being tempted please wait for at least an independent third party review, and a retailer with a good returns policy, before spending your money.

Should the above be a step too far for your sensibilities or your pocket, please have a look through our recently updated guides to the best wireless keyboards of 2022, and the best gaming keyboards of 2022 - mechanical, TKL and more.

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • cryoburner
    I like how the photo implies someone is going to lug that thing under their arm to use their tablet in a coffee shop. : 3
    Reply