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The Week UK: PORTFOLIO

The Week UK: PORTFOLIO

Vintage Appeal: the Azio Retro Classic Keyboard Reviewed

Spruce up your desk with this typewriter-inspired gadget

Most tech companies are pushing ever more compact and silent keyboards, but gadget maker Azio is bucking the trend by launching a version that has more in common with an old-fashioned typewriter.

The Retro Classic is a luxurious keyboard with a steampunk design and raised keys that deliver a loud click with each press. It’s not difficult to see why the keyboard’s nameplate reads “Elegantly Fierce”.

The US-based manufacturer has now opened orders in the UK, so The Week Portfolio has been putting the wireless version of the vintage-look keyboard through its paces to see whether it is as good as it looks.

Our review model was the £190 Retro Classic Onyx, featuring black keys and chrome black highlights. The keys sit above a base covered in black leather, although other models can be specced with a wood finish.

The device comes in a luxurious box that includes a microfibre cloth to keep the chrome highlights clean. It’s easy to configure, following the simple set-up manual, which explains how you to pair it through your chosen device’s Bluetooth menu. A USB-C to USB cable is also provided, if you prefer a wired connection.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Mac or PC user, as Azio provides the necessary keys for each keyboard layout. For instance, CMD and different Alt keys are included for those using an Apple computer, while PC users get a dedicated Windows key.

Our model also included backlit keys, which bathe the keyboard in subtle white glow. While similar features are available on other products, the Retro Classic’s backlit keys look sublime in low light and stand out from the competition.

The device’s functionality is a bit of a mixed bag, however.

The keys themselves sit significantly higher above the board than is the case with most other keyboards. That design choice is clearly aimed at making the keyboard look like a typewriter, but some users may not like it.

There’s a good chance you’ll need to change the way you type to accommodate the tall keys, raising your palms off the table to type. That could make using the Retro Classic a bit uncomfortable, although it shouldn’t be a problem if you have a palm rest or are used to using a typewriter.

If you work in an office, especially a quiet one, we’d suggest consulting your colleagues before making the Retro Classic your default keyboard. Part of the device’s appeal are the loud clicks and clinks omitted when typing. This adds to the typewriter aesthetics, but those used to near-silent modern keyboards may find it a bit irritating.

Ultimately, the Retro Classic boasts a beautiful design and old-school charm, making it easy to recommend for tech lovers yearning for a more analogue-like computing experience.

Much like an old sports car, we found the Retro Classic is at its most enjoyable with occassional use. However, you may find it a bit too extravagant for everyday work.

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