KBParadise V60 Type R Polestar Edition review

Today we’re looking at a gorgeous new compact mechanical keyboard: the KBParadise V60 Type R Polestar Edition. As you can probably guess by its long name, this special keyboard has some unique features that really set it apart from the crowd: It’s fully programmable, it has a transparent bottom cover and full RGB case lighting. That makes it an eye-catching keyboard that you can customise exactly the way you want. Let’s take a look in our hands-on review!

Design & Features

The V60 is a compact keyboard, about 60% of the size of a full-format keyboard (hence the name). The number keys, number pad, navigation and cursor keys are all relegated to a Function layer, making them easy to access without moving your fingers too far away from the home row. It also makes the keyboard super portable; you can easily use this keyboard with a tablet or laptop on the train without issue — or just enjoy plenty of desk space when you’re using it at home with a desktop PC.

The V60 Type R Polestar Edition comes in USA layout only at present, meaning you have a wide Left Shift key and a wide Enter button. (Of course, if your Windows or Mac layout is set to an ISO layout (e.g. UK, French, Spanish, Swedish, etc) then you’ll still be able to press almost all region-specific keys in their normal position, e.g. you can type ¬£ by pressing Shift + 3 when your computer is set to a UK layout.

The keycaps are made of ABS, and have dual laser-etched legends. The legends on the top provide the normal function of each key, while the legends on the front show the effect when the key is pressed with the Fn key held down. This makes the keyboard easy to use, even for newcomers to compact layouts, and it looks cool too. Each key is backlit in white, so you can use this keyboard in low light without any issues.

The case of the Type R Polestar is made from semi-transparent plastic, allowing you to see the circuit board underneath. Of course, it also allows the keyboard’s glorious RGB lighting to be fully appreciated.

A series of LEDs throughout the case light it up entirely, either in the single colour of your choice or through a constantly-switching spectrum of colours. There are also modes that vary the brightness of both the case and key backlighting, in rhythm with your typing or a heartbeat. Of course, either or both kinds of lighting can also be disabled if you prefer.

Unlike most keyboards with RGB lighting, you can choose exactly the colour you want without needing to install any software, as there are dedicated keys for increasing and decreasing the amount of Red, Green and Blue used. This makes it easy to choose your favourite colour, letting you match your PC and other peripherals or just swap to whatever shade catches your fancy.

The Type R Polestar is currently available with a choice of four Cherry MX switches: Red, Brown, Blue and Clear. Red switches are soft and linear, Brown soft and tactile, Blue hard and clicky, and Clear hard and tactile. Clear switches are still quite rare, so it’s great to see them on the Polestar.

We mentioned earlier that the keyboard is fully programmable, which comes courtesy of an ATMega32u4 controller and open source TMK firmware. This is a fairly involved process, but it allows you to have precisely the keyboard you want so it’s well worth exploring. You can find instructions here. Programming mode is enabled by pressing the button on the bottom of the case, so don’t press it by accident!

The Polestar connects to your PC using a removable Mini USB cable, which is provided. You’ll also find an instruction manual in the box.

Testing

Now that we’ve covered the keyboard’s design and features, how is it to use? We wanted to find out, so I used this keyboard for a period of one week, starting with a five hour train journey from Bristol to Yorkshire.

My first impressions of the keyboard were very positive. The layout immediately makes a lot of sense, and allows for a very portable keyboard indeed. Despite the small number of keys, all of the normal keys are included and there are even keys for adjusting the volume: Fn + B, N and M.

The only thing that wasn’t particularly intuitive was the placement of the arrow keys, which are in the Function layer either on WASD or on the right side of the keyboard near the Enter key. It took me an hour or so to get to grips with this placement, but after this initial period I found it quite sensible. If you already know where WASD is through gaming, then finding the cursor keys without looking isn’t difficult after a little practice.

The small size of the Polestar meant that I had no problems using the keyboard on top of my laptop perched on the tiny tray table, and the rainbow backlighting amused me (and passing passengers) to no end. The keycaps also felt good, neither too slick nor too scratchy under the finger.

Of course, your choice of mechanical switches also makes a big difference when testing out a new keyboard. Our review unit came with MX Clear switches, which are essentially a stronger version of the popular MX Brown switch. This was one of my first times using these switches, and I got on with them very well. They require 65 cN of force to actuate, compared to 45 cN for Brown. The higher force and faster return make it easier to not bottom out while typing, a trait shared with Cherry MX Blue switches. Overall, I found it to be a brilliant switch for typing that still performs well in games, and it’s not too loud either. They’re definitely worth trying, and the Polestar is the perfect platform to do so.

Ultimately, I had a good time testing out the Polestar, and I suspect that this will be one of the few mechanical keyboards that I end up buying for myself after the review period is over. The sensible layout, gorgeous backlighting and option for reprogramming down the line make this a very attractive keyboard. The Clear switches are also really nice, and I’ll be looking for them on future keyboards as well.

Links

The KBP V60 Type R Polestar is in stock now at KeyboardCo! You can choose from Cherry MX Clear, Red, Brown or Blue switches, all in USA / ANSI layout.

I hope you’re a fan of the Type R Polestar — we certainly are! If you’d like something a bit different, why not take a look at the other KBP keyboards we stock in all different shapes and sizes, or just take a look at our full selection of mechanical keyboards?

Thanks for checking out the article, and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below! If you have any questions, we’d welcome those too.

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