Review

Tecware Phantom L Mechanical Keyboard

Cheapest mechanical keyboard I can buy in Malaysia. At around MYR 184 (including shipping in peninsular Malaysia, via Shopee, June 26 2020) you could get blue, brown or red Outemu switch.

Context for the comparison

I’ve been using Filco Mejestouch brown key for 9–10 years for work and Ducky red, blue and brown cherry mx switches at home (the other home, Covid 19 and all, go figure) currently. Also used a typewriter and as well :P and probably the IBM buckling spring (during Wordstar hype) in the past.

So the comparison I am going to make will be with those input (switch ?!?) types.

Overview

Approach

This will be a review based on the usage of this keyboard for about 3 months since June. This keyboard is used both for work (typing) and a bit of gaming (fast pace fps and also something slow, pillars of eternity).

The review will cover 3 main areas, compatibility, how it fare with all three major OS’es (Mac Windows and Ubuntu), the build quality and finally the feel, including how tactile it is and the sound that the switch make (yeah it adds to that visceral satisfaction of using the keyboard).

On a personal note, the feeling part helps you getting into the zone (lol :P) hence, improving productivity (yes, it could be a placebo effect too :P) aside from the durability that mechanical keyboard provides.

Keyboard

The packaging is quite extensive at this price range (I was surprised).

Packaging

You’ll get:

  1. Keyboard
  2. Keycap puller (Filco doesn’t include this)
  3. Switch puller (!!)
  4. Spare outemu switch
  5. Detachable Braided USB C to USB A. (braided!)

Filco Mejstouch didn’t come with any puller whatsoever. Ducky has better packaging as usually it provides key puller and spare keycaps (at least for all the Ducky keyboards that I have). Filco nor Ducky did not provide any braided cable. This one does which is awesome.

As you can see from the box, the keyboard comes with RGB lighting. It’s useful if you are typing in the dark. Lastly, one of the defining characteristic of this keyboard is the swap-able switch.

Outemu Switch

You can swap the switch to any other brand as long as it’s low profile switch (smaller) with 2 pin.

This means at some point you got bored with the switch or the switch becomes kaput, you can install a another switch(cherry mx perhaps? :D). Interesting fact, not so easy to find a good low profile switch for this keyboard (Cherry MX, Kailh or Gateron). Replacement outemu pretty much easily obtainable (look it up in Lazada or shoppe). Just keep that in mind of this point if you buy this keyboard.

Compatibility

I’m using this keyboard on all 3 OSes, Mac, Windows and Ubuntu. All works well most of the time. Although, on rare occasion changing the output via UGreen USB from Windows to MacBook would sometime cause the keyboard to output garbage value on Macbook when typing. This can be fixed by detaching and attaching the cable again. Not sure if it’s the keyboard issue or the UGreen USB switcher issue.

This keyboard has FN key in its layout which make it easy to call some of the MacOS feature. Can’t say the same for the older Filco Majestouch which doesn’t have this key.

Build

Keyboard

The finishing has nothing out of ordinary. Didn’t expect much as due to the price. Worth mentioning that there’s no shortcoming either.

Pretty solid and sturdy frame. Pressing the key quickly with heavy force doesn’t give the slightest hint of wobbliness. To me, somewhat the same feeling with Ducky and Filco. Somewhat.

Key cap

Non-fade double shot ABS (from the brochure). Better than single shot arguably slightly inferior compared to double shot PBT. Still, at this price point, good enough.

Switch

Feeling wise “somewhat” almost the same with cherry MX. Durability wise I can’t really say the same.

I notice occasionally the switch can’t register the actuation. This happens when typing fast, some of the letter like ‘a’ maybe missed from being inputted. Not sure if it’s just this batch, but I think can be fixed by swapping the switch with the spare that comes together in the package (haven’t try it though).

The feel

Tactility

One main reason of using mechanical keyboard is the tactile feeling from typing with the keyboard. This keyboard is at least on par with other more well known brand like Filco and Ducky. No short coming there.

The actuation point, the feeling when you bottom out the key, it’s somewhat similar to the cherry MX. My other keyboards are full size keyboards so feeling wise, it has slightly shorter travel distance when bottoming out the keys.

Sound

Either I have ear problems or it makes somewhat similar with other Filco / Ducky keyboards (Brown Switch). The ever so sweet melody of typing serenades your work and sometimes (rarely) annoys the hell out your colleague (or spouse if you put in the bedroom. Be responsible mech keyboard user please, reduce noise pollution :P)That’s why I’m using brown instead of blue. My work station is in the bedroom you see. Go figure.

If the click-clack is not your thang you could always use o-rings to reduce the sound of each of the switches.

End Game

Worth the money with if you don’t mind the key miss-register annoyance.

For example right now, I have the desire to find replacement for the switch (probably from those accumulated annoyance :P), though not necessary since I still have few of the spare switches but still. I’d replaced the s key and seemed to be okay. But the problem seems to be spreading, as recently I realized the N key started to have the same problem.

As mentioned before, trying to find a low profile compatible tactile switch seems to be difficult. Kailh and Gateron have some but the stems are different and no cherry mx compatible (for tactile), meaning changing the switch to their switch would require new keycaps.

Overall, not the most durable or the best but repair-ability and expand-ability (better switch? depending from where you looking from) path is potentially broad, thus compensating its short comings to a certain extend. Personally, get it if you are budgeting at very very low price. If you got some spare cash or looking for long term usage, might as well get something else.

Written by

Someone who bricked a motherboard after flashing the wrong rom because of trying to OC an intel celeron from 400mhz to beyond 600mhz in 3rd grade.

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