Review: Vissles LP85 75% Optical-Mechanical Keyboard

PC gamers are spoiled for choice when it comes to keyboards. Every big peripheral manufacturer has their own line of ones to choose from, as well as mid-tier and indie brands. Folks can even go all out and start building their own keyboards if nothing meets their needs. One brand coming up is Vissles, who have previously created the V84 keyboard. Their newest one is called the LP85 which successfully raised heaps of money over its goal on Kickstarter. Units will start to make their way out around February 2022.

Why might someone want the LP85? This is the type of keyboard for people who appreciate small form factor and thin keyboards with a style akin to the Apple Magic Keyboard. This device is clearly inspired by Apple’s and features similar pricing. With that said, don’t be fooled into thinking this only works with Apple products. You’ll get compatibility across a wide variety of devices such as MacBook, iPhone, iPad, Windows PCs, Android phones and the like. The only real difference between models of the Vissles keyboard is a Windows layout or Apple layout. This primarily breaks down primarily to whether or not you have a “Command” or “Windows” key. The keyboard itself comes in two colors: black or white.

This is a keyboard made for portability and compatibility with a wide variety of devices. Often you’ll find keyboards sporting tall, high-profile buttons and, while still portable, aren’t as friendly to being packed in a bag. With low-profile keys, the LP85 is much easier to simply slide into a bag alongside your tablet or other device due to its overall slim size. One question might be if the thin nature of the board makes it feel flimsy, but amazingly enough, it doesn’t. The keyboard features a sturdy aluminum frame and each button feels securely in place. It feels like this keyboard would survive being tossed around in a backpack and come out unscathed.

Speaking of the keys, there’s another feature of the LP85 that makes it more desirable than a traditional Apple keyboard. Following the big trend toward RGB lighting, the keyboard also features optional RGB lighting. The lights shine through each printed icon on the keycap itself. This effect looks great, but there is one caveat to this style of backlighting. Over time, as the solid paint of the caps wears off, you’ll start to see more lighting bleed through on the most-used keys. Alternatively, if a key gets scratched in transit, there may be a similar result. This is true of the majority of keyboards with this style of key backlighting.

As you might expect, there are a wide variety of RGB patterns that can be run on the keyboard. There’s of course a spectrum mode which slides a hue of rainbow colors across the length of the keyboard. Solid colors are okay too, as well as other animated effects. Those who don’t want to use the lighting can also turn it off. One reason you might want to turn the lighting off is when running the keyboard in Bluetooth mode. After all, the lighting will drain the battery just a bit faster in that mode. If you’ve got a wired connection (using the included USB Type-C port and cable) to your device, though, then might as well let those RGB lights run bright.

But enough about that, the most important feature of any keyboard isn’t lighting: it’s the typing experience! This is of course dependent on each user and what they’re looking for. But broadly speaking, the actuation distance of 1.2mm of pre-travel, with 2.5mm travel in total, makes the keys feel satisfyingly clicky. This is due to the “optical-mechanical” switches on the board. Typical mechanical keyboards feature more of an actuation distance. So how does the LP85 differ? Each key houses a light beam at the bottom of each switch which is registering your inputs faster than a mechanical keyboard’s traditional metal contact upon button press. The “click” of a mechanical keyboard is still there, just that it’s not actively a mechanical switch.

Swapping the device to work between a variety of devices is simple enough. Just hit the shortcut on the keyboard to enable Bluetooth seeking and then pair it with the appropriate device. The board itself has a slight incline, but not too much since it’s meant to be ultra thin. The one downside of this is there are no included feet or stands on the bottom for those who prefer a more high-profile, angled typing experience. It’s not hard to buy something from a third party or 3D print your own stand accessory, but it would have been a plus to have something included with the board by default.

Closing Comments:

For $99, the Vissless LP85 is a great keyboard for those who want a mechanical-style board that they can take on the go and use for a multitude of devices. Things like the RGB and optional wired mode are just perks for the overall experience. Typing on the keyboard is comfortable, clicky and it doesn’t feel like much has been sacrificed to put it all into such a small package. This keyboard isn’t going to replace your $400+ totally custom daily driver keyboard, but that’s not the aim. The Vissles LP85 wants to be the go-to for portability and it excels at this goal.