What We Bought: The NuPhy Air75 is the slim, Mac-friendly mechanical keyboard I’ve been looking for

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For as long as I can remember, my primary keyboard has been Apple’s standard wireless model. I even upgraded to the Magic Keyboard when it launched in 2015. Eventually I thought it worked with my MacBook Pro, I type on it reasonably well and that’s what I expect from a keyboard.

Still, I harbored a secret lust for mechanical keyboards. Part of me misses the tactile feel of the clunky keyboards of my youth, especially as someone who spends as much time typing as I do. Also, since I now work full-time from home, I no longer have to worry about my office neighbors being annoyed by the sound of my typing.

So a few months ago, on a whim, I decided to dig a little deeper into the whole mechanical keyboard thing. I’ve researched for weeks but finally found one that seems to cover all my needs: the NuPhy Air75. As it turns out, I fell down a rabbit hole exploring this room. I ended up reading a lot of reviews, watching dozens of YouTube videos and diving deep into the product category. I learned about different types of keyboards (full-size, keyless, 75 percent, 65 percent), different switches (linear, tactile, click), keycaps, and more. I was a little intimidated by all of this to be honest, but after all this research I was convinced. That rich sound of clicking keys eventually got me thinking about getting one.

NuPhy Air75
NuPhy Air75

Engadget

My research helped me establish a few key criteria for the keyboard I wanted. First and foremost, I wanted one with a Mac-specific layout. I know most keyboards work with both Macs and PCs, but not all have Mac layouts and I just prefer that the keys match the operating system I’m using. Next, it has to be wireless – I don’t like having cords and cables cluttering up my desk. I also wanted the keyboard to support multiple devices so I could easily switch it between my work and personal laptops. Also, I prefer hot-swappable switches and keycaps so I have the freedom to swap them out if I want to. Finally, I wanted a relatively flat keyboard as I didn’t want to use a palm rest.

So I decided on the NuPhy Air75. It’s Mac-friendly, unobtrusive, features hot-swappable switches, and is wireless, with the ability to connect up to four devices – three via Bluetooth and one via a 2.4GHz receiver. I also really like the 75 percent size, as the layout is similar to what I’m already used to from Apple keyboards. Importantly, I was also able to buy it straight away from Amazon instead of having to wait for a bulk order, which is common in the mechanical keyboard market. As for the switches, I chose the Gateron Brown tactile ones as I read reviews that suggested they are a good middle ground between the smooth linear red switches and the clicky blue switches.

I’ve been using the Air75 for months now and I love it. I admit it took me a while to get used to at first. The keys have a relatively short travel distance thanks to their flat profile and I made a lot of typos at the beginning. But I quickly got used to the layout and typing on it has become second nature to me. I also love the feel of the brown switches.

NuPhy Air75
NuPhy Air75

Engadget

I also like the overall build quality of the Air75. The aluminum frame is solid, and the standard PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) keycaps look and feel good too. I like that the spacebar and enter key are yellow and orange, respectively. The keyboard has two LED light strips on either side, which I find quite attractive, and they’re functional; You can customize them to light up when the battery is low or Caps Lock is on. Additionally, it’s super easy to connect via Bluetooth, and swapping the keyboard between my two laptops is easy too (just press the function key and an assigned number).

I do have a few nitpicks though. The NuPhy Air75 has an RGB lighting feature, but since the keys have a low profile and aren’t translucent, it’s pretty hard to notice them. I ended up not using it at all because it drains the keyboard battery. Another reason is that the keyboard’s flat nature makes it difficult to find third-party keycaps that fit the aluminum frame (there just aren’t that many flat keycaps on the market). One of the features of customizable mechanical keyboards like this one is that you can easily swap out the keycaps for whatever color and design you want, but that’s not as easy here.

I saw a YouTube video a few months ago that compared the feel of typing on a mechanical keyboard to writing with a fountain pen, and I have to agree. Fountain pens make handwriting a real pleasure as they feel fluid and smooth. Similarly, typing on the NuPhy Air75 is a pleasure because of this tactile and satisfying feedback. Now that I’ve tried mechanical keyboards like the NuPhy Air75, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the standard Apple models.

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