The Angry Miao AFA is back! We originally reviewed this keyboard back in 2022 but it’s making its return journey with brand new pop-culture inspired designs, a refined build, and a faster disassembly process. Complete with adjustable leaf springs, switches, keycaps, and a design that borders on artwork, this is a custom keyboard you won’t want to miss.
Current Price: $680 - Base Kit, $795 Bundle (Angry Miao)
Angry Miao AFA R2 - What Is It?
With the Angry Miao AFA, the “AFA” stands for adjustable flex alice. It’s shorthand for a very descriptive name. It utilizes an Alice-style layout, which is ergonomically split and angled to cater to more natural hand positioning. This lends it a very unique look that caters to the creativity of the designers at Angry Miao.
The adjustable flex portion of the name comes from its unique leaf spring mounting system. Rather than use foam or silicone gaskets like most keyboards, the AFA is mounted on bent metal leaves tipped with silicone plugs. Both halves of the keyboard are set onto these plug with set mounting points, allowing the PCB assembly for each side to hover inside the case. When you type, these depress and provide ample, soft flex. The plate is also made of soft POM plastic and is one of the most flex cut I’ve ever seen. This is a keyboard that moves and responds to your every touch.
The adjustability of these springs comes with their material and how they mount into the case. Angry Miao includes both copper and stainless steel springs for a harder or softer typing feel (copper for softness, steel for firmness). These can also be screwed in at three different points the company calls “gears” that allow for more or less movement. Beneath these springs are thick and thin foam adjustment pads to provide more or less cushion. When it comes to dialing in the amount of bounce, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Before you type a single keystroke, you’re going to notice how unique the design of this keyboard is. It’s split into two sides and inset into a skeletal aluminum frame that looks a bit like a spaceship. Or, since this is a Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom-inspired keyboard, perhaps a glider is a more apt comparison (seriously, that’s not an exaggeration). It’s CNC milled from a single four-and-a-half-pound block of solid aluminum and then hand-polished for a full hour.
The actual key set is split between two halves with separate circuit boards, joined in the center by a control unit. This enhances the spaceship-like look. It also doubles as an indicator light cluster to show battery status and whether any of your locks are enabled. It utilizes a 65% layout, which lacks a function row, but includes arrow keys and a handful of navigation and editing buttons. Unlike most keyboards with this layout, that nav cluster is on the left, which can be good for gaming, but takes some getting used to. Interestingly, the Right Shift key has also been shortened to make room for the Up Arrow key, but Angry Miao has a solution if you’re a Right Shift fan.
The keyboard also comes fully built with some really interesting translucent keycaps and pre-lubed linear switches. These keycaps feel wonderful under the fingers, glassy smooth, and show the per-key backlighting just beautifully. You should know, though, that if you swap to opaque keycaps, the RGB hardly shows at all. You’re trading one form of customization for another there, but it can still be worth it as I’ll show soon. The switches sound and feel great. They have a light, clacky sound that’s just delightful.
Even though it comes fully built, this is a true custom keyboard. Angry Miao just takes the work out of the process and throws in switches, keycaps, and stabilizers at a discounted price. Internally, it uses layers of sound dampening and acoustic tuning foam. There’s plate foam that surrounds and isolates the sound of the switches, IXPE switch foam which adds volume, PCB foam, and the two layers of adjustment foam, which pull double duty honing the sound. The stablizers are also pre-lubed, so you don’t have to worry about adding lube to get rid of rattle.
The keyboard is also fully wireless with support for Bluetooth 5.1 and comes with a gigantic 10,000 mAh battery (actually, two 5,000 mAh batteries). There’s even a built-in Qi charging coil if you have a charging pad or Angry Miao’s Cybermat, completely eliminating the need to plug in. The company is even teasing potential 2.4GHz support in the future.
It’s also fully programmable using an online configurator. You can remap all of the keys across multiple layers, just like VIA, but have much more control over per-key lighting options. You can even download popular animations other people have shared, which is a nice touch. With that said, I wish VIA were an option as it does offer more options for layer access. I miss being able to hold my Caps Lock key to access layer two instead of having to map the entire key to Fn.
I also have to call out the case. The AFA R2 ships inside its own briefcase with a custom molded shell inside. It’s easily the fanciest case I’ve ever seen a keyboard come in and definitely takes the unboxing experience up a notch.
Angry Miao AFA R2 - What’s New?
The “R2” in the product name stands for “round 2.” In the keyboard world, that means it’s coming around for its second opportunity to buy. The company isn’t just releasing the exact same keyboard, however. There are new colors and themes, a much more streamlined disassembly process, and some refinements the the keyboard’s construction.
There are five new colors available this time and each of them are stunning. We have Cyber Cop, a Robocop-inspired silver and black; VF-19 ADV V2, a red and white version themed after the Macross anime; the Zelda-inspired Magic Forest, which is green and gold; Pink Slayer, a pink and green variant inspired by the Demon Slayer manga; and Unit-01, which is purple and green, and seems to be inspired by Evangelion. Each is gorgeous in its own right.
The disassembly process is much, much faster. There are only four screws per side now, down from 24 on the first version. Disassembly was easily the most cumbersome part of that keyboard and this is a dramatic improvement. Considering how customizable the typing experience is, you it’s an important and meaningful upgrade.
AM has also addressed the issue of Right Shift seeming to be in the wrong place for regular users. Its shorter size was very off-putting for those typists. Now, if you hold the Up Arrow, it acts as Right Shift, but will still work as an arrow when tapped.
Two other changes are small but speak to the refinement of this release. The center console has been swapped from acrylic to real glass to make it more resilient to scratches. This was also an isse on the original as it scratched quite easily. Finally, the company has removed the small gap between the panels when viewed from the side.
If you already have an AFA and are happy with its color, you can upgrade some of the glass panel on your own. Te biggest reason to upgrade would be for the look of the new cases.
Which brings us to…
Angry Miao AFA R2 - The Zelda Keyboard of My Dreams
When I saw the Magic Forest version, I fell in love. I didn’t expect to return to the AFA for a round two, but you have to understand something… I grew up on Zelda. Ocarina of Time was a focal point of late elementary school for my friends and I. Link was our fantasy hero. It was one of the first games I ever recall getting completely lost in.
Earlier than that, I have fond memories of the all-gold original Legend of Zelda NES cartridge. As a young boy, that was the coolest thing. I was too young to really understand it and make headway in the game itself. But I could already tell there was something magic about it, literally and figuratively.
Now, as an adult, some of my best memories of playing games with my kids are from Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom.
Zelda, in my life, is one of those classic, nostalgic, throughlines and something I can now share with my old children. The Magic Forest AFA isn’t just an ergo keyboard, it’s world’s colliding: gaming, nostalgia, writing, keyboards, work, play… all in one drop-dead gorgeous package.
That’s what I saw in it, so I reached out to Angry Miao to see if they would let me build it out similar to their posed picture.
I think I did a good job. This build is using the Akko Marrs Green doubleshot PBT keycaps in Cherry profile. I also took the opportunity to change the switches to Akko Cream Black Pro V3s, which are downright excellent for the price and are extra smooth and poppy.
There’s something about the mix of green and anodized gold that just looks stunning about this keyboard. The skeletal, glider-like, bird-like frame. Without any semblance of cap, this is a keyboard you that would look right at home inside a Skyview Tower. It is that well done, that perfect.
I fully admit that I’m biased here. Keyboards don’t really come better matched to a user than this one does to me. But I’m absolutely in love with this keyboard and can’t see myself putting it in storage, ever. When I’m not using it, it goes on my shelves on a display. That’s the kind of keyboard this is. Functional, decorative, and all around awesome.
Angry Miao AFA R2 - Typing Experience
Here’s the thing: the keyboard looks a little crazy and does take a little bit to learn. If you look closely, you might notice that there are two Bs. That’s because a lot of people, myself included, didn’t learn to type correctly and it’s very possible that with a split like this, you might reach out to press a center key and find that it’s on the other side. This is most common with the letter B, so there’s one on both sides.
It’s not as drastic of a shift as going with an ortholinear keyboard like the Moonlander. The keys are still staggered, which makes adapting to it easier. I found that if I stopped thinking about typing and just trusted my fingers, I typed much faster. My typing speed dropped from 110 WPM to 80 WPM and I’m working up from there. The ergonomic split is quite nice once you get used to it and causes less stress on your forearms and wrists.
Typing on it can be quite bouncy. Every keystroke causes the keyset to move. You can adjust this, of course, but I actually enjoyed the lively feeling of it. It doesn’t feel wobbly or out of control. It’s soft and responsive. I also find it to be quite comfortable and works well with its ergonomic design.
When it comes to sound, I found it to be very nice. It leans on the clacky side, even with all of the foams. It’s slightly marbly. This is enhanced by the included keycaps, which also have a lighter, almost glassy sound quality to them. Swapping over to the Akko Cream Black Pro V3s and the doubleshot PBT keycaps, I thought it would get deeper, but the long poles of the Cream Blacks made it even poppier and louder in volume.
Learning curve aside, the typing experience is excellent. If you can take the time to learn it and get back up to speed, it’s excellent.
Angry Miao AFA R2 - Is It Worth It?
At $680 for the barebones version and $795 pre-assembled, this is a luxury product and won’t be for everyone. I would never recommend anyone spend so much on a keyboard without it being a special circumstance. In this case, what we have here is the intersection of art and a core peripheral. Art is expensive, and so is this.
It just so happens that this modern art piece is also made to be an outstanding mechanical keyboard. Its innovative leaf spring mount is a joy to type on and sounds just as good. But all of that only coexists with this simple fact: the artistry of its design is truly what ties the experience together. From a practical standpoint, no $700-800 keyboard makes sense. But this isn’t about practicality. It’s about having something unique, something that speaks to you, and also happens to be great at its intended purpose.
So whether it’s “worth it” is an entirely personal question, but it is exceptional in nearly every way.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.