8Bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard Review

My latest review is of the 8bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard. At first glance, its beige color, and angled clicky mechanical keys gives off that nostalgic retro vibe. But because its 8bitdo it also comes bundled with some fun: in this case a pair of huge NES style buttons that can be used as macro keys.

The keyboard is priced at $99 and comes in two distinct color schemes. I opted for the NES theme, reminiscent of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. However, there’s also a Famicom version, inspired by the Japanese version of the NES.

Both designs are appealing, but I have a soft spot for beige!

Typing on this keyboard is great. The clicky sound, courtesy of the Kailh box switches, is quite satisfying. The keyboard is very sturdy but not as heavy as vintage keyboards, weighing in at about 2.3 pounds. The keys rest on an aluminum board, but the exterior casing is heavy duty plastic. They keys angle up very similar to vintage IBM keyboards, and as such there’s no plastic feet to adjust the tilt angle.

The keyboard connects via Bluetooth, USB, or a 2.4 gigahertz USB dongle. I tested it on various devices, including Mac and Raspberry Pi, and it worked seamlessly. A switch on the left hand corner of the keyboard seamlessly switches between modes. So it’s possible to quickly switch beteween a phone or tablet paired up via bluetooth, a computer connected via USB, and a third device connecting with the 2.4 ghz dongle.

The standout feature are the programmable keys. The keyboard has a NES style “A” and “B” key at the bottom right along with those two additional large buttons. These can be customized to perform specific functions. For instance, I programmed one to pull up my task manager and another to close active windows. It’s a handy feature that adds a layer of personalization to the keyboard. The keyboard can work with four pairs of large buttons that connect to the back.

As great as this is there are two potential deal breakers: one is that this is in a “ten-keyless” design which lacks a number pad on the right hand side of the keyboard. And unlike most premium mechanical keyboards these days the 8bitdo lacks a backlight for use in the dark.

Overall the 8-bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard is a blend of nostalgia and modern functionality. It’s comfortable, versatile, and offers a unique typing experience.