Lofree Flow mechanical keyboard combines customization with portability


Perhaps one of the criticisms the custom mechanical keyboard hobby faces is the fact that there aren’t that many low-profile, portable options available, but we can’t really blame the designers for it. Most users in the hobby tend to work from a fixed location and don’t really have a need for a portable keyboard, and even if they did, many do not mind packing their big and bulky keyboards in their bags.

But if you want a mechanical keyboard that was designed to be portable, maybe something you can take with you to school or work and back home again, then Lofee might have something for you. The company has announced their latest keyboard in the form of the Lofee Flow that could be the answer to your portable keyboard needs.

Low profile, portable design

When it comes to portable keyboards, there are many options out there, but less so when it comes to mechanical keyboards. This is a problem that Lofee seems to have solved with the Flow.

The Flow has a 75% layout and features the use of an aluminum body. While plastic would undoubtedly be lighter, the use of aluminum helps give it a bit of heft for that premium feel, plus keyboards made from metal tend to sound better than those made from plastic, so it’s like you’re getting the best of both worlds.

One of the reasons why the Flow is so portable is due to the use of Kailh’s low-profile switches, which are shorter in height compared to regular mechanical keyboard switches. The keycaps are also designed to be low-profile and slim, so it should have no issues sliding into a backpack.

As for the internals of the Lofree Flow, the company has adopted the use of gasket mounting. This has more or less become the new design standard of mechanical keyboards, where the plate and PCB are mounted on silicone gaskets inside of the case.

This is versus older keyboard designs which used screws to mount the plate and/or PCB to the case. This would result in a stiffer typing experience, while gasket mounting offers a more bouncy typing experience while also sounding less harsh as the vibrations are being absorbed by the gasket strips.

There is no “right” or “wrong” mounting style here. It boils down to personal preference, but seeing as how gasket mounted keyboards is the new standard, it’s good to see Lofree paying attention to the community and their needs.

There are also RGB lighting effects that are emitted through the sides and under the keycaps if you like that RGB glow or want a keyboard that can be used even in the dark.

Hotswappable switches

Speaking of switches, one of the features that enthusiasts might be able to appreciate is that the Flow uses a hotswap PCB. This means that users can easily remove the switches that come bundled with the keyboard and replace it with something else more suited to their liking.

This can be done in a matter of minutes and you don’t even need to learn how to solder because everything basically clicks into place. Speaking of switches, the Flow will be using Kailh’s POM switches.

For those unfamiliar, mechanical keyboard switches are made from a variety of different plastics. This includes nylon, POM, and polycarbonate. Sometimes they might mix materials, where the top housing could be made from nylon and the bottom from polycarbonate, while the stem is made from POM.

The reason for this is because each plastic has their own unique sound signature, so sometimes mixing and matching can result in a switch sounding unique from other switches. In the case of these Kailh switches, they are made entirely out of POM, which is kind of a rarity as most switches tend to be made with a mixture of plastics.

One of the upsides to an all POM switch design is that due to the nature of the material, it is what some call “self-lubricating”, meaning that there is no need for additional lube as the material can easily glide against each other with little friction.

Some have pointed out how pure POM switches can have a bit of a “leathery” feel to it, but over time as you break it in, that feeling should go away. Also, since the keyboard’s PCB is hotswappable, if you don’t like the sound or feel you can just swap it to another switch of your choice.

Long-lasting, durable keycaps

The Lofree Flow is a completely built keyboard which means that unlike most of the keyboards sold in the community, it comes complete with switches and keycaps so that it’s ready to be used right out of the box.

The keycaps that are bundled with the Flow are PBT keyboards. PBT is also another type of plastic commonly used in keycaps, with ABS being another popular option. One of the upsides of PBT is that it offers a more textured finish which some might appreciate as it feels grippier.

PBT is also known to be more durable compared to ABS as PBT keycaps tend to be thicker, which means that you can use these keycaps for years to come without having to worry about it breaking or getting weird shine spots from the oils from your fingers. PBT keycaps are also known to produce a deeper sound, so if you prefer “thock” to “clack”, this could be a good option.

Then again, seeing as how the Lofree Flow uses MX-style switches, it also means that if you want to swap to other keycaps, there are plenty of options – both PBT and ABS – available to you.

Wireless connectivity options

Most custom mechanical keyboards lack wireless connectivity, but this isn’t really an issue for people in the hobby because buying fancy cables to accessorize their keyboards is part of the whole experience, but if wireless connectivity is important to you, especially if you plan to work outside and don’t want to have to deal with cables, Lofree’s got you covered.

The Flow keyboard supports both wired and wireless connectivity so you have options depending on your preference. It uses a USB-C connection to charge the keyboard and to use it in wired mode, and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. In terms of battery life, the Flow is rated at 40 hours of non-stop usage, and will take about 3 hours to charge back to full.

This is a decent amount of battery life and it should be able to net you a decent amount of usage before it needs to be recharged again.

Kickstarter campaign

If you’re keen on the Lofree Flow, the keyboard is currently on Kickstarter where it is trying to raise funds to make it happen. At this time of writing, they have managed to raise a little over $75,000, blowing past its initial goal of $51,000 so it is guaranteed that it will be made.

The keyboard itself will be priced at around $109 for those who back it via its Kickstarer campaign. This is a 45% discount from its MSRP of $199, so if you’re interested in this keyboard, you might want to pledge your support now to get in on the early bird special.

Tyler Lee
A graphic novelist wannabe. Amateur chef. Mechanical keyboard enthusiast. Writer of tech with over a decade of experience. Juggles between using a Mac and Windows PC, switches between iOS and Android, believes in the best of both worlds.

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