By Jason Snell
November 19, 2021 10:15 AM PT
Nuphy Air75: A low-profile keyboard that feels a bit cramped
As someone who’s enthusiastic about mechanical keyboards, I was interested in reviewing a prerelease version of the $110 Nuphy Air75. It’s a 75 percent keyboard (a size that’s right up my alley) with low-profile switches and thin, low-profile PBT keycaps.
The result is a portable Bluetooth/USB-C keyboard that’s thin and light and slips much more easily in a bag (a $19 foldable case/stand similar to the Studio Neat Canopy is an add-on option) than thicker, heaver keyboards. I’ve never tried low-profile Gateron switches before, but they were clicky and responsive in a way that modern Apple keyboards aren’t. (In fact, one of Nuphy’s sample photos indicates that they’re hoping people will place the keyboard atop their MacBook keyboards when in use. Unfortunately, the feet on the Air75 don’t quite fit over the keyboard of the new 14-inch MacBook Pro.)
The keyboard I used came with Mac keycaps preinstalled, including an f-key row that also highlights media controls. (There’s a switch on the back that lets you put the keyboard in Windows or Mac mode, and of course it works with iPad, too—in fact, most of the time I used it with my iPad.)
If I have a complaint about the Air75, it’s that the keycaps aren’t just low profile, they’re very flat. That means that there’s very little empty space between the tops of each keycap. That makes it very easy for a keypress to accidentally press neighbor keys. And unfortunately, that’s what happened when I used the Air75. It’s not that different of a profile from Apple’s Magic Keyboards—the top is a little smaller and the base is a little wider—so if you’re used to Apple’s laptop keyboards, this will feel like a more mechanical version, clickier and with more travel. Me, I prefer a profile with a little more separation between the tops of the keycaps in my mechanical keyboards.
Speaking of tight fits, the arrow key layout on the Air75 places the full-sized arrow keys right up against other keys, making it very easy to type End or Control when you’re just trying to move your cursor. I wish more keyboards would leave space around the arrow keys to avoid just this issue.
The Air75 also has LED “side lights” on the top of the keyboard, next to the top left and right keys. Mechanical keyboards often have gratuitous backlights, but these are gratuitous lights just hanging out on either side of the keyboard. They were distracting and I found that every time I turned on the keyboard, I had to turn them off. (Maybe I just don’t like fun.)
In the end, while I appreciate Nuphy’s commitment to building a compact mechanical keyboard that fits in the footprint of a Mac laptop keyboard, it’s not one that I’ll be traveling with myself. But I can see how it might hit the spot for people who want to travel with a mechanical keyboard that’s relatively thin and light.
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