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Vissles LP85 Review: An Apple-Inspired Portable Keyboard With Lots to Like

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated Nov 22, 2021

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The Bottom Line

The Vissles LP85 is a great keyboard if portability and a low-profile design are your main priorities. It won’t offer the same typing feel (and, arguably, joy) of full-sized mechanical key switches, but it’s definitely a cut above most other low-profile keyboards. Well worth checking out.

Pros:Cons:
+ Excellent build quality
+ Lightweight
+ Standard 75% layout
+ Good clicky switches
+ 19 RGB lighting patterns
- No angle or height adjustment
- Some legends aren’t fully lit by RGB LEDs
- Clicky; not for linear or silent switch fans
- Possible Bluetooth issues

View on Kickstarter

Mechanical keyboards are a dime a dozen these days. Whether you’re a beginner looking to get into the hobby or a seasoned vet shopping for a premium product, there’s likely something for everyone these days. But mobile users aren’t quite as lucky, since even the smallest mechanical keyboards tend to be thick and relatively bulky. Enter the Vissles LP85.

The Vissles LP85 is an optical-mechanical keyboard designed to offer an enjoyable typing experience in a low-profile, ultra-portable form factor. Does it hit the mark, and is it worth your money? Read on to find out.

Design, Layout, and Build Quality

Let’s start with the basics and look at the Vissles LP85’s physical layout and build.

Design and Layout

Vissles markets the LP85 as “the best alternative” for the Apple Magic Keyboard, and it’s not hard to see why. The L85 owes much to Apple’s product aesthetically, right down to the font used. Still, it differentiates itself with a couple of vital changes that make it a much better product in my eyes.

The LP85 is noticeably bigger than the Apple product at 12.1 x 4.6 x 0.6 inches (W x D x H). But that’s for a good reason: the LP85 has a “standard” 75% layout. That means full-size arrow keys and a few useful navigation keys such as Insert, Home, and End.

Vissles LP85 layout

Source: Vissles

You will have to live with a short right shift, but that’s a small price to pay to not have to deal with those awkward stacked up/down keys on the Apple. Unless you’re really desperate for the smallest keyboard possible, I think you’ll find the LP85’s layout vastly preferable over the Apple product.

Build Quality

The other big difference between the LP85 and its inspiration is in the body. The LP85 boasts a rigid all-aluminum body that feels great in hand and gives a premium feel to the keyboard. Of course, it does also make the LP85 significantly heavier than the Apple Magic Keyboard.

The LP85 weighs 1.2 pounds (547 grams) compared to the 0.53 pounds (239 grams) of the Apple Magic Keyboard, making it just over twice the weight of the Apple. That said, I can’t imagine it being an issue for anyone, as 1.2 pounds is still more than light enough for a portable keyboard.

Vissles LP85

Source: Voltcave

Beyond the chassis itself, the ABS keycaps are also decent and feel good to type on. They have a slightly concave surface and use shine-through legends to allow for the RGB backlight. As you might expect, these keycaps aren’t designed to be removed. Vissles notes that trying to do so will damage the “keycap buckles and switches.”

For me, the only issue with the LP85’s design is the lack of any angle or height adjustment. The two-degree rise isn’t enough for me, given that I’m more used to typing on full-sized mechanical keyboards with sculpted key profiles. But it likely won’t be an issue if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool laptop typist looking for a standalone keyboard.

Vissles LP85 height

The Vissles LP85 next to a Google Pixel 2. Source: Voltcave

Overall, I don’t have any objective complaints here. The 75% layout is perfect, and the build quality feels excellent. The Vissles LP85 definitely makes a good first impression.

Features

Now that we’ve evaluated the basic physical aspects of the LP85, it’s time to look at some of the LP85’s software and hardware features.

Connectivity and Software

The Vissles LP85 can connect via USB-C (a USB-A to USB-C cable is included) or Bluetooth, with a toggle on the back to switch between the two.

The LP85 can connect via Bluetooth to three devices simultaneously. Connecting to multiple devices and switching between them worked flawlessly for me, so no complaints there. However, I did have issues with the LP85 on my main desktop rig (running a Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro AC motherboard with Intel Wi-Fi/Bluetooth).

Vissles LP85 connections

Source: Voltcave

When connected to my desktop rig, the LP85 would occasionally “freeze” before spamming the last key I’d pressed during the “freeze” for a good second or two. So I’d get a whole barrage of deleted characters or end up with a “byeeeeeeeee” at the end of a text message, for example.

I had no such issues when using the LP85 with my Pixel 2 or my laptop, so it’s definitely something wrong with my rig. But I figured it was worth mentioning just in case.

Vissles LP85

Source: Vissles

It’s also worth mentioning that the LP85 doesn’t have any companion software to change your keymap or RGB lighting. However, you do get separate Windows and Mac OS layouts. These are independent of the physical layout and can be switched with Fn + S (Mac) and Fn + A (Windows).

RGB Lighting


Source: Voltcave

The Vissles LP85 is a thoroughly modern keyboard. By this, I mean that it comes with 19 different RGB lighting modes from the factory. They cover an admirable range, from your standard single-color lighting to eye-catching (but incredibly distracting) raindrop and wave lighting modes.

The quality of the RGB lighting is solid but not perfect. The biggest issue is that some of the legends aren’t lit evenly by the RGB LED. It’s particularly noticeable on the Caps Lock key. You’ll notice a similar issue on Page Up/Down, Delete, and Return, too.

Vissles LP85 RGB

Source: Voltcave

It’s not a huge issue for me, as RGB is low on my list of priorities. But I can imagine it annoying those of you who are very particular about your keyboards’ RGB lighting. Another potential annoyance is that you’re stuck with the factory lighting patterns due to the lack of software customization.

On the whole, though, I’m quite pleased with the Vissles LP85 here. The Bluetooth problems I faced are 99% likely down to my rig, and the uneven lighting is a minor fault that doesn’t bother me personally. It’s not ideal, admittedly, but hardly a deal-breaker.

Typing

Finally, it’s time to dig into the meat and potatoes of any keyboard: the typing experience.

The Vissles LP85 uses the company’s own “premium X-optical switches” with 1.2 mm (0.04 inches) of pre-travel and 2.5 mm (0.9 inches) of total travel. The actuation force is 50 g, identical to the Cherry MX Blue. However, these feel totally different due to the much shorter travel.

Key Switch Travel
“Travel” refers to how far the key moves when you press it. Switches used in full-sized desktop keyboards tend to have between 3 to 4 mm (0.11 to 0.15 inches) of travel.

“Pre-travel” indicates how far a switch can be pressed before it actuates. This number is generally around half of the switch’s total travel. The lower the pre-travel, the less you have to press the switch before it registers your keypress.

Vissles claim that this short travel and fast actuation makes its optical-mechanical switches perfect for gamers. Well, so long as you’re the type of gamer that wants “instant actuation, satisfying clicky feedback, and rapid-fire inputs,” that is.

How do they actually feel to type on, though?

Vissles LP85

Source: Voltcave

Surprisingly not bad, I have to say. I’m not one for low-profile switches, so I expected to dislike the LP85. To my surprise, though, I found myself getting along well with the LP85 during the week I spent with it as my primary keyboard.

I particularly appreciated the clickiness of Vissles’ X-Optical switches. While these will never win any awards for tactility, they have a nice “pop” (both tactile and audible) that makes them reasonably fun to type on. I had no issues getting back up to my ~100 WPM typing speed after a short adjustment period, either.

Vissles LP85

Source: Voltcave

The click sound itself is alright. It’s there and scratches the itch, but it’s nothing special. And while they’re quieter than MX Blues, they’re still likely too loud if you prefer silent keyboards. Here’s a quick typing demo recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2020 placed about a foot above the LP85:

I had no issues gaming with the Vissles LP85 either, at least as far as the switches are concerned. They felt fine, and I forgot I was playing on low-profile switches after a while. I doubt that I benefited from the reduced travel, but it also didn’t cause any issues. No complaints from me here.

Vissles LP85 switches

Vissles’ optical-mechanical switches. Source: Vissles

Overall, I’m fine with typing on the LP85 for work and play. It didn’t blow my socks off, admittedly, but it’s a lot better than I expected it to be. That said, don’t expect this to compete with full-sized keyboards in terms of typing feel and tactile feedback; that’s just not what the Vissles LP85 is aiming for.

The best way to think of the Vissles LP85 is in the context of other portable keyboards. Many of them aren’t all that great to type on and feel quite cheap, relegating them to portable-only use for me. In contrast, the LP85’s “poppy” switches and solid aluminum body offer a good enough typing experience that I wouldn’t mind using at home.

Vissles LP85 in black and white

Source: Vissles

And that’s where the Vissles LP85 shines. It’s a portable keyboard that doesn’t sacrifice overall typing feel and material quality, making it a much more versatile keyboard than most of its competition. If you want a keyboard that’s equally capable at home and on the go, give the Vissles LP85 a try.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the Vissles LP85 impressed me. It feels great to hold and has a good typing feel, which is more than enough for a low-profile portable keyboard. My issues with the shallow angle aside, there’s nothing truly wrong about it.

While I wouldn’t call it an exceptional keyboard, it’s certainly one that I can see gaining some popularity. And I like it enough that it’s now my go-to portable keyboard for those occasions when I work out of the house.

The Vissles LP85 is available in black and white with both Mac and Windows layouts. It’s currently available for $99 during its Kickstarter campaign. The price is scheduled to increase to $139 after the campaign ends on December 2nd, so you’d better get in quick if the LP85 sounds like the keyboard for you.

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