If you’ve ever wished Apple’s Magic Keyboard had mechanical keys and RGB backlighting, the Vissles LP85 keyboard may be the perfect Mac accessory you’re missing out on. The world of computer keyboards is a vast and expansive one. There are all different kinds of switches, features, compatibility, etc. Unfortunately for Mac users, they’re often left in the dark. Every keyboard comes with a traditional Windows/PC layout, whereas only a select few have keys designed with macOS in mind.
This leaves Mac users with a much more limited selection to choose from. The Apple Magic Keyboard is the most popular option, but it lacks any form of backlighting and isn’t very easy on the wallet. Logitech’s MX Keys delivers a much larger feature set at a more competitive price, but the lack of mechanical switches is too much of a roadblock for certain users. Finding the exact right combination of design, features, and value is no easy task. Thankfully, the Vessels LP85 makes this daunting quest just a little bit easier.
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In November 2021, Vissles appeared on Kickstarter with the LP85 ‘Optical-Mechanical Keyboard.’ The pitch behind the LP85 is a pretty simple one: It’s a mechanical keyboard with RGB, multi-device connectivity, and packs all of that into a design that looks almost identical to Apple’s Magic Keyboard. After spending a little over a month with the LP85, it’s safe to say Vissles has a winning formula on its hands.
Everything I Love About The LP85 Keyboard
Let’s start with the most eye-catching thing about the LP85 — its design. Vissles clearly took a lot of inspiration from Apple when creating the LP85, but I don’t mind that one bit. It has a similar wedged form factor, a compact body with no wasted space, and comes in your choice of white and black paint jobs. The biggest difference between the LP85 and the Magic Keyboard is the construction. Where the Magic Keyboard has an aluminum membrane and a plastic underside, the entirety of the LP85 is aluminum. That makes it considerably heavier than the Magic Keyboard (547 grams vs. 243 grams), thus giving it a sturdier and more premium overall feel. The LP85 combines this with a maximum thickness of just 12mm, along with two long rubber strips on the bottom that hold it in place on any desk/table. Is it the most original keyboard design I’ve ever seen? Of course not. But if Vissles’ goal was to take the Magic Keyboard design and make it better, it pulled it off with flying colors.
Then there are the keys themselves. Vissles sells the LP85 in both Windows and Mac layouts. Being the Mac user that I am, I opted for the latter. The layout of the Mac keyboard has everything you’d expect: including Command, Option, and Control keys flanking the left and right of the spacebar (along with an Fn key on the left side). The top row has 12 full-size Function keys with shortcuts for brightness, opening the app drawer and Mission Control, volume keys, and media playback controls. I also really appreciate the full-size arrow keys on the right. The squished top/bottom arrows on Apple’s Magic Keyboard have always been a pain to use, but on the LP85, that’s not an issue at all.
Even better than the layout of the keyboard is how it feels. The LP85 is an optical-mechanical keyboard using “premium x-optical switches.” This gives the keys a 50g actuation force, 2.5mm key travel, and an actuation point of 1.2mm (the point where pressing the key results in a registered keystroke). Those are all really impressive numbers, and in real-world use, they translate to the LP85 being a joy to type on. Keystrokes are responsive, the travel feels great, and each key has a slightly concave shape that feels wonderful under your fingers. I was also really surprised by just how clicky the keys are. It’s a quieter and less impactful click than the Gateron Brown switches on my old Keychron K2. That said, I’ve come around to preferring how the LP85 sounds. It’s undoubtedly clicky and responsive, but it doesn’t wear on my ears the same way the Keychron does after a few hours.
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And, of course, we have to talk about the LP85’s RGB backlighting. There are 19 different lighting effects to choose from of varying styles. Some modes respond to your keystrokes, others are constantly pulsing/moving colors around the keyboard, or you can have a constant backlight without any motion. All of these modes can also be customized to your exact liking — including options to change the color, brightness, and light speed on the modes with moving lights. All of this is controlled using simple shortcuts with the Fn key, and Vissles includes a handy guide in the box in case you forget. The best part? The backlighting on the LP85 looks outstanding. Each key is lit up perfectly, and there’s hardly any light bleeding from the edges.
Where The LP85 Keyboard Could Be Improved
While my time with the LP85 has been overwhelmingly positive, there are a few things I’d like to see improved with a second-generation model. Design-wise, having some built-in height adjustment would be more than welcome. I can understand Vissles likely omitting that in favor of the ultra-sleek housing, but even the option for minor adjustments would be excellent.
I also haven’t been very impressed with the LP85’s wireless performance. The keyboard uses Bluetooth 5.0 to connect wirelessly to any device. While it pairs quickly and stays connected just fine, the performance takes a considerable hit. Like other Bluetooth keyboards, typing in this mode often comes with double-presses and missed keys — quickly resulting in a hair-pulling experience. All of this wonkiness goes away the second you use the LP85 wired with the included USB-C-to-USB-A cable, but I’d like to see better Bluetooth support next time around.
The same is true of battery life. Given the LP85’s compact footprint, Vissles could only squeeze a 2,000 mAh battery inside of the thing. That’s half the capacity compared to the battery in the Keychron K2, and it’s really felt when using the keyboard for hours on end in wireless mode.
Should You Buy The Vissles LP85 Keyboard?
I’ve had a few different keyboards on my desk over the years. Apple’s Magic Keyboard was my go-to choice for a while, but the lack of backlighting and mushy keys ultimately pushed me away. The Keychron K2 eventually replaced it, but I never fully got over its bulky design. Using the Vissles LP85, it feels like the perfect mix that I’ve been searching for. It’s compact, feels amazing to type on, and has a solid feature set. That’s a combination you really can’t ignore — especially when the LP85 is available for just $99.
The LP85 is currently on Kickstarter with pre-orders expected to deliver in February 2022. It’s fair to be wary of any Kickstarter project. To Vissles’ credit, though, it’s created and shipped two other keyboard models since its launch in early 2020. If you’re OK with that, the LP85 is an easy recommendation. It’s been my keyboard of choice going on two months, and once this review is finished, I’m looking forward to many more months of daily use with it. The Magic Keyboard is still great, but the LP85 is better.