Lofree (also stylized as “LOFREE”), a leading brand in the peripherals industry, has recently launched a new keyboard model named ‘Flow’. This product was brought to life thanks to the support of 1,381 backers who pledged HK$ 1,646,998 on Kickstarter. Despite its successful crowdfunding campaign, our hands-on review reveals that while the Flow keyboard has some noteworthy strengths, it also has areas where improvements are needed.
Flow design and user experience
The Flow keyboard immediately impresses with its sleek design, featuring distinctive LED lighting. However, upon closer inspection, the LED lighting appears to serve more of a decorative purpose than a functional one. In a truly dark environment, the lighting does not sufficiently illuminate the letters on the keys.
When it comes to the typing experience, the Flow keyboard performs well. The low-profile switches and gasket mount contribute to a smooth and comfortable typing feel. While a little different from what I expected, the sound of typing was not the traditional clickity-clacky as you’d expect from some mechanical keyboards, it was more like a modern smooth and slightly softened version of that, yet, quite enjoyable as well and matches the smooth haptics.
Despite these strengths, the compact size of the Flow keyboard can be a double-edged sword. While some users may appreciate the minimalist aesthetic, others might find it too small for comfortable use. Moreover, despite its small size, the Flow doesn’t fit the bill as a portable keyboard, raising questions about the rationale behind its compact design. If I could make a wish, I’d just wish for a regular size for the keyboard and I’d be a whole lot happier with the product.
Connectivity: Truly a mixed bag
During testing, the Flow keyboard showed mixed results in terms of connectivity. It connected seamlessly with some test computers but faced issues with others. Interestingly, it performed well when paired with Android smartphones, suggesting potential utility for mobile users. Regrettably, key mapping errors were observed on Windows machines, although the keyboard interacted efficiently with Macs. If you have the chance to test the keyboard with your computer before you buy it, that would be ideal.
Layout, aesthetic appeal, and battery life: Areas for Improvement
The Flow keyboard is currently only available in a QWERTY layout. This design choice could potentially limit its appeal to users who are accustomed to other keyboard layouts. In my opinion, all markets and all keyboard layouts should be supported and nobody should be excluded from using a nice keyboard. From an aesthetic perspective, compared to other Lofree designs, the Flow model might appear somewhat less exciting despite its LED lighting features.
A significant concern with the Flow keyboard is its battery life. Unlike other peripherals that require infrequent charging, the Flow’s battery seems to drain faster, necessitating regular charging. This could be a drawback for users who prefer low-maintenance devices. Certainly, you can disable the LED lights and assassinate the final nice design aspect of it for saving power, but at some point, you have to ask yourself, why even bother?
Market positioning: Questions remain
Given its compact size but lack of portability, combined with its higher price point of $199, the target market for the Flow keyboard remains unclear. It seems to be caught in a middle ground – not quite fitting into the portable keyboard category, nor being the ideal choice for a stationary desk keyboard.
Concluding thoughts: Potential amidst shortcomings
In conclusion, the Flow keyboard offers several appealing features, including an attractive design and a pleasant typing experience. However, it falls short in several areas, including its compact yet non-portable design, inconsistent connectivity, limited layout options, and subpar battery life. With further enhancements, the Flow keyboard has the potential to carve out a niche for itself in the peripherals market.
For now, though, users might want to weigh its strengths against its shortcomings before making a purchase decision. Lofree excels with haptics but has some more work to do. I am personally looking forward to seeing more from Lofree in the near future and I’m confident that they can overcome shortcomings by truthfully recognizing them and working to improve going forward.
YouTube: Unboxing of LOFREE Flow Mechanical Keyboard (switch sound test included)
Photo credit: All imagery shown is owned by Lofree and has been provided as part of a press kit.
Editorial notice: We received a test unit but were not paid for this review.