Lofree has quietly been one of the most innovative keyboard companies operating today. Its keyboards almost always challenge convention, whether that’s taking inspiration from typewriters and suitcases or going for an ice cube-like fully transparent design. Its latest keyboard, the Lofree Flow, combines the production and custom keyboard worlds in an innovative low profile design that surpasses anything we’ve seen before.
What Lofree has achieved with the Flow was something we didn’t think possible. Thanks to its full POM switches, gasket mount structure, and multiple levels of foam, it delivers a typing experience on par with much more expensive custom keyboards in a form factor that’s beyond rare and always expensive in that space. If you like slim keys, this is a keyboard you don’t want to miss. The Lofree Flow is nothing short of a new high-water mark for low profile keyboards.
- Current Price: Starting at $109, $129 Early Bird KS Pricing, $149 Retail (Kickstarter)
- Case: Aluminum chassis
- Case Thickness: 10mm
- Typing Angle: 3.9 degrees
- Switches: Kailh POM Ghost (Linear), POM Phantom (Tactile), POM Wizard (Clicky)
- Hot-swappable: Yes
- Keycaps: PBT, Dye Sublimated
- Mounting Structure: Gasket Mount
- Dampening/Tuning: , Silicone plate foam, PE switch foam, PORON case foam
- Backlighting: Per-key white backlight, RGB side-lighting
- Connectivity: Wired, Bluetooth
- Battery Life: 40 hours
- Charging Time: 3 hours
- Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Mobile
- Weight: 568 grams
The Lofree Flow is a low profile keyboard that deserves a place right alongside some of the best entry-level custom keyboards in the hobby. That’s high praise considering how outstanding keyboards like the JRIS75 and Meletrix Zoom75 are. But in the very same way that those keyboards redefine what you should expect from an affordable custom keyboard kit, the Flow redefines what you expect from a low profile custom keyboard. It’s not perfect, but in sound and feel, it’s not just a little better that the rest of the market today. It’s miles ahead. Lofree deserves every bit of praise it will surely receive for this release.
With a case that stands only 10mm high, the Flow will feel right at home to Mac users and laptop fans. It uses a completely flat layout, just as you would expect from a low-pro, and has native support for Windows and Mac. The design is minimalist and clean. Everything, and I mean everything, feels well considered and intentional. The way the hex screws are placed around the exterior, causing gentle glints of light; the singular LED strip on the bottom edge; even the feet, which are separate pieces of rose gold aluminum precisely bent to match the angle of the bottom case, feels designed with elegance in mind. This is the kind of keyboard you could see Apple itself producing.
The case is entirely aluminum. Not just the frame, but the bottom too. I was sent the silver version with white keycaps, and it looks outstanding. There are two flourishes. On the right, a small gold badge carries the Lofree logo. On the function row, orange legends are centered atop the F-keys to indicate Mac functions. Minimalist but gorgeous, to my eye.
What really makes the keyboard special is what’s happening inside. I said the Flow takes inspiration from the custom keyboard hobby, and that’s visible throughout its design. It uses multiple layers of foam and silicone to tune its acoustic signature. There’s a layer of silicone between the plate and PCB, isolating and drawing out the sound of the switches. Beneath the switches is a layer of PE switch foam to add creaminess and pop. Beneath the PCB is another layer of pliable PORON foam to remove any hollowness from the case and further isolate the sound of the switches.
The switches themselves appear to be a first. The Flow uses slim Kailh switches made entirely from “self-lubricating” POM plastic. This plastic has a very low friction coefficient, making them feel exceptionally smooth without the need for lubing and only become more so the further they break in. It’s the same design we’ve seen on NovelKeys Cream Switches and on a number of other switches born out of the custom keyboard community. I was sent the Ghost linear switches but they’ll also be available with tactile Phantom and clicky Wizard versions. They’re also hot-swappable to change out to other compatible low-pro switches, but since these are some of the best ever produced, I don’t see any reason to switch out anytime soon.
The keyboard also utilizes a gasket mounting structure that’s usually reserved for full size keyboards. This design isolates the entire PCB from the case by sandwiching it between layers of silicone (or foam in other boards); there are no screws attaching the PCB to the case and creating contact points for typing sounds to resonate through its body. What’s more, despite being very thin, the keys even offer a bit of flex! I fully expected the Free to be overly firm like most low profile or even budget-oriented gasket keyboards. But no, Lofree has done a great job here.
The inspiration doesn’t stop there. The typing experience is enhanced further by the use of PBT keycaps. It’s not unheard of to see PBT used on low profile keyboards these days, but it’s still pretty rare and definitely deepens the sound. The legends are clean, crisp, and dye-sublimated so they’ll never chip or fade. The keys aren’t backlit, however, so it’s not the best for using in the dark.
You’ll also be pleased to know that the keyboard uses Cherry-style stabilizers. My sample came pre-lubricated and free of rattle, but if you want to add more lube, you can simply remove the keycaps, mod to your heart’s content and then press them back into place.
The Flow offers both wired and wireless connectivity over Bluetooth (the exact Bluetooth version isn’t disclosed) with up to three devices. I found it to connect quickly and reliably without any noticeable lag when typing. Battery life is quoted at 40 hours of typing time and will completely recharge in just three hours. This is one area that, while fine, falls short of the competition that offers fast 2.4GHz wireless connectivity. For gaming, you’ll want to leave the keyboard plugged in.
Lofree Flow - Performance
The Lofree Flow is a fantastic keyboard. Typing on it for the first time was revelatory. I’ve used some great low profile wireless keyboards over the years, and I absolutely did not expect it to be so different, and so much better than everything that came before it.
The sound and feel — creamy and slightly poppy, but not overwhelmed by the PE foam sound. The switches are very, very smooth. I’m not sure if they’re pre-lubricated or if it’s just the material, but they’re far smoother than any of Gateron or even Kailh’s own low profile switches that came before. The gasket mount structure and layers of foam provide a cushioned typing experience that’s non-fatiguing and honestly very satisfying to use over extended periods.
My biggest gripe is that it can’t be used on top of my laptop’s actual keyboard. The Nuphy Air75, which is the Flow’s biggest competitor, has very thin feet designed to sit in between the rows of a chiclet keyboard. It can sit directly on top of a laptop keyboard without interfering. The Flow has larger feet and needs to be used separately, which is a bit of a bummer.
Some people may also lament that the keyboard doesn’t offer per-key RGB backlighting, but I think that criticism would be misplaced. I love RGB, but I think all of those colors would really undermine the clean aesthetic Lofree has designed.
The Lofree Flow is one of the biggest and best surprises the keyboard world has had so far this year. If you like the low profile design, it offers the hands-down best typing experience available today. To achieve that and still keep a low price, you do leave behind features like 2.4GHz wireless or fancy proximity sensors like on the Logitech MX Keys. It’s worth the trade-off. At $129 on Kickstarter or $149 at retail, this is an excellent keyboard that’s well worth the investment.
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