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Unick Woo-dy Mechanical Keyboard Review: Good Wood

By Christopher Coke on September 14, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Unick Woo-dy Mechanical Keyboard Review: Good Wood

We review a lot of keyboards, but we were surprised when the Woo-dy landed in our mailbox from Unick Invent. You might have gathered from the name that there’s something unique about this keyboard, a few somethings in fact, but rather than plastic it features a real wooden base, high quality spherical keycaps, macros and key remaps, and full RGB programming all in a 65-percent layout. Is it worth the $99 Kickstarter price? Join us as we find out!

Specifications

  • Current Price: $99 ($149 after Kickstarter campaign concludes)
  • Layout: 67-key (65-percent)
  • Materials: Aluminum alloy top plate, wooden base in Black Walnut or Cherry
  • Connectivity: USB Type-C, Bluetooth (three devices)
  • Key Switches: Gateron Red, Blue, or Brown
  • Key Lifespan: 50M Clicks
  • Hot-swappable: Yes
  • Keycaps: Spherical/ergonomic, double shot ABS
  • Illumination: Per-key RGB
  • Macro Programming: Yes
  • Lighting Programming: Yes
  • Key Remapping: Yes
  • Onboard Memory: Yes
  • Dimensions: 341mm x 103.8mm x 36.5mm
  • Weight: 500g

Wood is, Indeed, Good

Right off the bat, I’m going to answer that question: Yes. The Woo-dy is 100% worth backing on Kickstarter right now. I’ve been using it for the last two weeks and it’s become one of my favorite keyboards ever and for the price, it’s a great deal. I say that as a gamer and as a keyboard enthusiast; this little guy has won me over.

The first thing that struck me about the Woo-dy was its look. It features a wooden case underneath an aluminum top plate and I have to admit that wood cases are something that’s interested me for over a year now. I had never used one but in enthusiast circles, some of the best looking boards I’ve found used wooden shells. Knowing that the case also has a profound impact on how a keyboard feels to use, I was also very curious to know what it would be like to type on one.

Thing thing you have to understand when evaluating keyboards is that the key switch is only one piece of what makes up the so-called “key feel” of a keyboard. Equally important is the plate, the shell, the stabilizers, and how much empty space the manufacturer leaves inside of the case. Each of those things impacts the solidity of a keyboard, whether it rattles, how deep or light it sounds, and if there’s reverberation from the springs after pressing a key.

The Woo-dy is impeccably built. Being the keyboard geek I am, the first thing I did is type on it without even plugging it into a computer. If you’re used to gaming keyboards you will immediately feel the difference. Beyond the linear/tactile/clicky differences of the switches, the keys have a distinctly light sound to them. This is a direct result of the wood base and the more I type on it, the more I prefer it to the usual plastic/metal make-up of most keyboards.

On top of that, Unick Invent even went so far as to lube the stabilizers! This is a touch many keyboard manufacturers ignore because, frankly, most people will never know the difference since almost no major brand does or (or does it enough). When you use a keyboard that has been properly treated, large keys like backspace, shift, and space lose their extra high pitch and feel almost pillowed. Yes, they lubed the Woo-dy and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Great Keycaps, Hot-swappable Switches are a Win

The keycaps are also rarely found and very good. They’re tall and spherical, not unlike SA keycaps found on custom keyboards and typewriters. They’re one of the first things I noticed about the keyboard when I came across Unick’s advertisements on Facebook; you really don’t see keycaps like this on pre-builts. Usually, if you want something like this, you’re paying $100+ just for the keycap set. They’re double shot, so the legends are made from a second piece of plastic and will never fade. The spherical shape also helps you to center exactly in the middle of the keycap without needing to think about it, which is helpful for avoiding typos.

The keycaps aren’t PBT, however, which feels like a miss to me. PBT is well known for its density and durability, which can also enhance the typing experience. That said, the ABS here is some of the best I’ve used. The keycaps don’t show oils from your fingers easily and they’re slightly textured to avoid pre-mature shining. I’ve used the Woo-dy extensively and I’ve yet to see any. Likewise, I do wonder if the sound of PBT might diminish some of the light-toned tapping the wood case elicits.

Out of the box, the Woo-dy is available in your choice of Gateron Brown, Red, or Blue switches which covers the most popular variants on the market today. Since Cherry’s patent expired, there’s really very little difference between Cherry MX switches and alternate brands like Gateron of Kailh in feel or durability (I’ve used tons and have found almost zero quality difference across nearly 75 mechanical keyboards).

If Gateron isn’t your fancy, you can easily swap out to a different type of switch because thanks to the included hot-swap sockets. This element of the PCB allows you to change a switch simply by pulling it out and pressing a new one in and is one of the single-best features you can find in a keyboard today.

The Unick Woo-dy is hardly the first keyboard to offer it but it’s excellent to see it included here at this price point. Being able to change your switches means you’ll never have to replace the keyboard if a switch fails. It also opens the door to trying new switches that aren’t available in pre-built keyboards, like my beloved Kailh Jade or Navy switches. Depending on what you’re looking for, you could swap out ever switch and completely change the feel of your keyboard for under $50. Or, if you’re creative, you could use multiple switches in a single board… speed switches on WASD, perhaps?

Versatile and Great for Gaming

The Woo-dy is also fully RGB and completely programmable using the enabled with a number of presets built into the board. Far more are available inside the driver software, as you can see in the picture above. You can also easily program macros and remap keys. The software isn’t as polished or customizable as something like Razer Synapse but you wouldn’t expect it to be. You can come up with custom lighting schemes, program in game commands, and complete all of the core gaming functions necessary to a gaming keyboard, however, which makes the Woo-dy a great fit for gamers.

Yes, despite its refined and distinctly non-gamerish look, I think the Woo-dy makes an exceptionally good gaming keyboard. It’s perfectly sized for big sweeps of the mouse hand, saves space on your desk for other peripherals, and retains all of the functions of a tenkeyless with Function combos. Fn+1 triggers F1, for example. Fn+G and H control volume. Home and End are Fn+k and Fn+, respectively. It also maintains the arrow keys, page up, page down, delete, and insert for easy navigation and editing; and, if you play games that require lots of inputs at once, it also has full N-key rollover and a 1ms polling rate to make sure you never lose a command.

I’ve also found myself using it as a travel keyboard. The small size and light 500g weight make it perfect for throwing in a bag and taking to work or school. It’s also bluetooth-enabled for up to three devices, so you can quickly switch between a laptop, desktop, and tablet without ever unplugging it from your main machine. It’s designed for versatility and Unick has done a great job of making pairing fast and reliable.

Final Thoughts

I realize I’ve talked mostly positive here but that’s because there is very little I don’t like here. This is a killer little keyboard. Going into this review, I didn’t expect to find a new favorite. A curiosity, sure, but after only a day with it, I knew Unick had made something special. It feels great to use, looks refined in a way most gaming keyboards never could, and features my personal favorite form factor at a very reasonable price. The only criticism I could levy would be that they opted for ABS keycaps but it’s hard to hold that against them when they’re also some of the best around, thick-walled, and close to SA caps that are exceedingly rare in a pre-built.

If any of this has caught your eye, I’d encourage you not to wait. The price is set to go up to $149 after the Kickstarter campaign. Even at that price I would recommend this board. Unick Invent nailed it with the Woo-dy and I’m extremely excited to see what they do next.

Pros

  • Wooden case completely changes the feel of the board
  • Exceptional attention to details - lubed stabilizers!
  • Great keycaps - ABS, but high quality, double shot, and unique
  • Fully programmable for lighting, macros, and remaps - great for gaming
  • Size, weight, and connectivity make it quite versatile and perfect for traveling

Cons

  • Keycaps are ABS

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

Christopher Coke / Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight