Vissles LP85 review: A worthy Apple Magic Keyboard replacement? [Video]

Vissles is launching their latest keyboard, the ultra-slim, low-profile, clicky switch-wielding LP85 on Kickstarter. I was a big fan of the V84 that we got our hands on earlier this year, and was excited to try out the latest build. This time it’s a low-profile keyboard with clicky optical switches aimed primarily at Apple users with a reasonable price of $99 for early bird backers. There is also a version made for Windows, but the overall design mimics the Apple Magic keyboard. Be sure to hit the video below to see all of the details. 

Design overview

While the LP85 is still in Kickstarter mode, I was quite fond of the V84 and have been enjoying the small yet durable feel of the LP85 so far. The MSRP on the LP85 is $139 with early bird pricing set at $99, so if this is something that strikes your fancy, make sure to back the project on Kickstarter to get that special pricing. 

Backers can choose between black or white colorways in Mac or Windows layouts. The black version that we have here has a dark gray aluminum body with black keys. The white configuration also has a gray body with white keys. 

For the LP85, Vissles wanted to make something small and portable for those who still want a mechanical feel but like a slim low-profile keyboard, much like the Apple magic keyboard. Measuring at just over a half-inch tall at the highest part, the LP85 is very low-profile. It has a bit of a taper but doesn’t keep the most standard slope angle that larger mechanical keyboards have. There are also no feet on the bottom of the keyboard to adjust the angle. 

Vissles LP85: Video

To keep things small and slim, the LP85 is a 75% layout keyboard. This means that it forgoes the Numpad found on full-size keyboards but keeps all of the function and navigation keys. 

On the front of the keyboard is a single toggle switch that will put the keyboard into either cable mode or Bluetooth mode with a small LED status light and a USB-C port. 

Vissles also touts how lightweight the keyboard is, but to me, it has a bit of heft in the best way possible. It feels beefy. Made of aluminum with a 2000mAh internal battery, it weighs in at about 547g. Thanks to that metal body and weight, it feels very well built. I’ve only had the keyboard for a few weeks, but it feels like it’s made to withstand the test of time. 

Vissles LP85 will also come in a macOS layout in both black and white. One of their biggest targets in the market is the Apple Magic keyboard. Vissles is hoping to offer a mechanical feel in a small form factor that will be familiar to those who are used to the Apple keyboards. Compared to the Apple Magic Keyboard, the LP85 offers full-size arrow keys as well as additional navigation along the right side of the keyboard in the form of insert, home, page up and down, and end keys. Some of the other layouts are unconventional, which we will cover further down. 

Two modes of connection

The Vissles LP85 has multiple ways to connect with a device. It can connect with up to three devices simultaneously via Bluetooth, or be plugged in directly with a USB-C cable. 

To connect a Bluetooth device, flip the switch on the back into Bluetooth mode and then hit fn and either Q, W, or E. These keys will be tied to whichever device you pair. Then hold fn and P for five seconds to enter pairing mode which is visible with the P key flashing white. 

Before pairing the next device, be sure to hit fn and W or E to ensure you don’t override the Bluetooth pairing with the original device mapped to Q. 

Fast optical switches

Vissles has done something pretty unique with the LP85. Instead of a membrane or standard mechanical switch, this keyboard uses optical switches that usually help with both speed and durability. 

One stark difference compared to any Apple device is the clicky sound of this keyboard. You might draw some more eyes at the coffee shop thanks to that click, but the sound and feel of this keyboard offers more tactile and audible feedback than that of a standard magic keyboard and might be a welcome switch for those who want something closer to a mechanical keyboard. Ideally, Vissles would offer linear and tactile versions as well, but for now we just have the clicky version.

Rated at 50g of actuation force with 1.2mm pre-travel and 2.5mm total travel, it’s a pretty quick switch. For comparison, the more standard Cherry MX switch is typically 2mm of pre-travel with 4mm of total travel. This shorter stroke means faster actuation. Paired with the relatively lightweight actuation force, the LP85 makes typing smooth and easy. Almost too easy. I find myself making a few more mistakes when typing on the LP85 compared to my Drop ALT with Gateron Brown switches, but I’m pretty used to that keyboard. 

Switch feel is a very personal thing with people choosing clicky, tactile, or linear switches with a huge variety of actuation forces. I typically like a light tactile switch, but because of the low-profile nature of the Vissles LP85, I personally would have preferred a bit more actuation force on these switches. But, that’s my take on them and I do think they feel great with a very audible sharp click, love it or hate it.

There isn’t much information about where the switches are from, but they do sound and feel good for the price with smooth actuation and that satisfying click. Be sure to hit the video to hear a sound test of the keyboard compared to a silent keyboard like the Vissles V84.

Vissles LP85: keycaps

Unlike most mechanical keyboards, Vissles doesn’t want you to remove the keycaps on here. While they are a standard ABS material, they have a nice, clean font that shines bright with RGB and is easy to read. 

Reading the comments on the Kickstarter project, there is some backlash on the labeling of the layout. On both the Windows and mac layouts, there are four keys to the left of the space bar. For the Windows version, these are labeled from left to right as ctrl, win, fn, and alt, which tracks pretty similarly to a standard full-size layout with the addition of the fn key. 

Where things get a little weird are on the macOS version. The standard Magic keyboard has the layout from left to right of fn, ctrl, option, cmd. On the Vissles, though, this layout is ctrl, option, fn, and cmd. 

In response to these comments, Vissles has stated that the design is set and they will not be changing the layout for this keyboard but will perhaps make changes to a future model. They also didn’t really say why they made this decision which makes me wonder if it was just a mistake. I got the Windows version in to review so I didn’t even notice that there was an issue here until I looked at the comments section of the Kickstarter. That’s an interesting design choice to force users to adopt to a different layout for seemingly no reason. It doesn’t bother me on the Windows version, but on the macOS version, I can see why some people are put off by that deviation from the standard layout.

Vissles also recommends that you don’t remove the keycaps yourself. So without the ability to remove keycaps and re-map keys, the keyboard is stuck in this unconventional layout. 

Because of the size of the keys in the lower-left corner, the space bar is shorter than most keyboards that also took some getting used to for me. I use plenty of hotkeys when editing in Premiere Pro and the change to the positioning of the Alt key threw me for a loop the first few times using it, but I quickly became used to this layout. 

Vissles LP85: RGB

One other addition that sets the Vissles LP85 apart from a keyboard like the Apple Magic Keyboard is per-key RGB lighting. It’s easy to select between 19 different dynamic lighting modes and select seven different monochrome effects.

9to5Toys’ Take

So who’s the Vissles LP85 for? I’d say it’s for those who are bored by the standard Apple Magic keyboard and want something different. The clicky optical switches offer a unique experience that is quite a bit different than the Apple version. I love the full-size arrow keys with the additional navigation buttons along the right side of the board. I don’t mind the layout for Windows, but if I was using the macOS version, I might be a little more upset about it.

What do you think? Does the layout make this keyboard a no-go or are you a fan of the design, sound, and build quality, and plan on backing it on the Kickstarter?

Back the Vissles LP85 on Kickstarter

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