I’ve always loved typing. Smashing out words by pounding keys on a mechanical device has appealed to me for as long as I can remember, and the look and sounds of typewriters were a big part of that for me. That’s one of the reasons I was so interested in the Rymek from Knewkey. The Rymek is a mechanical keyboard with a throwback design that is reminiscent of mechanical typewriters.

Knewkey took the Rymek to Indiegogo last year and let people reserve their own keyboard for $120. At that price, the company promised a clicky, responsive typing experience with mechanical switches as well as features like Bluetooth connectivity, a volume knob, and responsive backlighting. That crowdfunding campaign raised $260,000, and now Knewkey is shipping out units out to backers.

I got my hands on one as part of this official launch, and I’ve spent some time with it both typing and gaming. It’s a keyboard that looks beautiful and performs wonderfully.

What you’ll like

Retro design that doesn’t get in the way of function

In the world of digital design, skeuomorphism has had its day. This is the concept where a company like Apple would make it look like you are turning a real paper page in its digital iBooks app. The idea is to give the digital action some callback to its physical origins. Apple still uses a lot of skeuomophic elements, but it has also modernized a lot of its mobile operating systems and apps. But I still like skeuomorphism, and I also like its real-world counterpart anachronism.

The Rymek fits right into anachronistic design, which I can probably just call “nostalgia.” It looks and functions like a typewriter, but it connects to your phone, tablet, or computer.

What’s especially nice about the Rymek is that nothing is superfluous from a design perspective. It has the knob you would use to feed in paper, but it controls the volume. It has the release bar you would use to pull the paper out, but that switches it on, off, and into Bluetooth mode. Even the bar that would hold the paper up so you could see what you were typing works as a tablet holder on this device.

And it’s that kind of clever thinking that ensures a product isn’t just nostalgia.

Clicky, responsive mechanical switches

Knewkey gives the option of Cherry or Gateron switches. I tested one with Cherry MX Blues, so it has a loud, distinct click. This is exactly what I want from a keyboard that is trying to act like a typewriter, and it works to give the sensation of typing on one of noisy classical contraptions.

But of course, Cherry switches are accurate and durable. And the Blue uses a tactile actuator that makes it obvious when you’ve engaged the key. This makes it excellent for typing. I also love it for gaming, but the keys do require a bit more force than you may want to deal with for long sessions. And you have to let the key bounce all the way back out before you can engage it again. That’s never a problem for me, though, and I love the way they feel during intense shooter action or something slower and more strategic.

What you won’t like

Volume knob is wonky

My Rymek’s most noticeable issue is the volume knob. If I try to turn up the sound, the knob will only register a few clicks up before it suddenly starts turning the volume down instead. I have to fight with it to get the volume to work properly. This is potentially just an issue with this Rymek, but it also just doesn’t have great knob feel in general. It’s kinda loose and unsatisfying to twist.

Not compact enough for travel

I love that Knewkey made it so the Rymek works so well with tablets. That’s something a lot of people may want, but I don’t think you’ll ever take it with you on a trip or anything. It’s bulky and oddly shaped, so it’s just not great for using while mobile. I think most people use their tablets around the home, but you can get a lot of bluetooth keyboards that will do the same job and are also slim enough to come with you if you need it.

Conclusion

I love the look and feel of the Rymek. The volume knob is annoying, but it’s such an egregious problem that I would expect it is just a defect of this unit. If you want a keyboard that is different, but also still stylish looking and fully functional, Knewkey’s Rymek is a great option for anyone who loves to type.

The Rymek keyboard is launching soon. KnewKey provided a sample unit for the purpose of this review.