In a time where 60% keyboards were much less common, the Anne Pro was a huge success, offering that unique form factor, but also featuring Bluetooth and RGB lighting at a decent price.
Since then, there’s been a heap of new entries, so now we have the Anne Pro 2, which replaces its predecessor, and hopefully improves on it.
- Anne Pro 2 Mechanical Keyboard
- Wire keycap puller
- Red/black USB Type C Cable
- CMYK Blank PBT Keycaps
- Black case
- White case
- Gateron or Kailh Box keyswitches
DESIGN & BUILD
Naturally I’ll be making a couple of comparisons to the old Anne Pro which I have as well. Although I have the yellow case version with an aftermarket keyset. And straight away, they look very very similar.The case design is pretty much the same. We have a very slim bezel. It is a high profile design, so the keyswitches are hidden. Looking at the side profile, and it has a natural inclination to it, as there are no flip up feet on the bottom. The only real physical differences is the bottom of the case with it’s different rubber feet for non slip. And now we have a physical on and off switch, which is a really great addition. And then finally on the back we have a USB type C port, rather than micro USB.
I mean, it would have been cool if they changed up the design a bit, just to give it a fresh new look, and also to differentiate it from the old one. But to be fair, it is a pretty nice looking angular yet simple enclosure.
It’s still packing some weight, as I can feel that it has a steel plate inside, and it comes in at about 630g. Many of these new budget 60% boards come with aluminium plates which are much lighter, so it’s nice to keep the steel.
Another difference is that this only comes in black or white, which is kind of sad. I don’t know if there’s plans to have the other colours again, but the old one was available in a couple of different colours which I thought was fun.
The keycaps also look very similar. We have the same font or typeface that isn’t the cleanest, but it also isn’t the worst. And these are also made from 1.2mm thick PBT plastic, and are doubleshot, so the legend is another piece of plastic, and will never fade away.
LAYOUT & FUNCTIONALITY
So as said, this is a 60% keyboard, having just the main area of the keyboard, with 61 keys. But don’t worry, just as always, we have all the other keys and functions packed onto other layers. Many people like 60% keyboards for their super compact size, and having everything in close reach. But that same trait can be a negative to others who prefer dedicated keys, such as dedicated arrow keys.
So by default we do have the function row on top, the nav cluster, which includes home, end, page up and down, etc, on the right hand side. And the arrow keys on WASD and IJKL. And these are accessed via the FN key. Although you’ll notice that we have 2 FN keys, labelled FN1 and FN2, meaning that we actually have more layers to play around with, which we’ll see later.
And this is where the software comes in, and this is something truly great to see, being a huge improvement on the last one. The software is available on their website for both Windows and Mac.
Watch video for software demonstration.
There’s some basic info which shows the actual battery life, and running time. Although my battery status has been stuck on 93% for the whole time. This magic FN setting can turn the caps lock key to to either the FN1 or FN2 key, by holding it down. But it will still work as caps lock when you press it.
Probably the most important section is the layout editor, especially for a 60% keyboard. Firstly we have some presets, for QWERTY, Mac, and Dvorak which is simple as. And then here we have our layers. So we have the top layer, in which you probably wouldn’t want to change much of. Then our 2 FN layers. And then our TAP layer.
It’s super easy to use. You can just click on a key, and then pick something on the side to replace it.
The interesting one is the TAP layer. By default we have the arrow keys in the right bottom corner. And personally, this works absolutely perfectly for these keys. So if I just tap the right control key, it will act as the right arrow key. But if I hold it, it will act as just the control key. And that’s always been one of my major problems with 60% boards or smaller, just not having dedicated arrow keys, and having to hold down another key to access them. So yeh, I’m pretty happy about that.
But that’s as far as the TAP layer really goes. You can’t really use it anywhere else because the first layer would be prioritised anyway. So yeh, we basically have 3 programmable layers, plus the TAP layer.
And then we have the lighting section which is pretty self explanatory, with all the colours and effects and stuff.
And lastly, we have the macro section, where we can record macros for various tasks and programs, in which you can assign to different keys as per usual.
So yeh, I’m actually really impressed with the software. It’s very clean, and looks rather professional. It’s easy to use, and just works well. So definitely a big improvement from the previous Anne Pro.
Another big feature is the new choices of keyswitches. Previously, they just had the Gateron switches, which was already a good thing. But now in addition to the Gateron’s, they have Kailh Box Whites, Reds, Blacks, and Browns.
Unfortunately, I only have the Gateron Reds in mine, being similar to the Cherry MX reds. The Kailh Box Reds are also pretty similar - again being a light linear switch. So you’d have to get the Kailh Box Browns for tactile, or Whites for clickies, to experience something different.
I’ve built keyboards with both of those keyswitches, so you can see my thoughts on those if you want. However recently, it’s been found that the Kailh Box switches do have problems with stressing keycaps stems and breaking them. Although I don’t think it’s much of a problem if you’re not constantly changing them. They’ve since worked towards fixing this, but I don’t think those changes are in effect with these boards, or this batch at least. But who knows for the future. I’ll link some of the info in the description below.
The stabilisers are actually decent. They still have some rattle there, but they are way better than the absolute trash the original Anne Pro had.
Watch video for Bluetooth pairing demonstration.
The last major feature of the keyboard is its Bluetooth 4.0 wireless capability. First make sure the keyboard is switched on at the bottom. On the 1 to 4 keys, we have 4 bluetooth buttons, in which each holds a device. Therefore we can pair this up to 4 devices at a single time. To connect the keyboard to a device, hold FN2 and one of the 4 keys for 5 seconds, and then the key will start flashing. And then just pair it on the device side. And it’s that easy.
The performance seems pretty good. There’s always going to be the slightest of delays, but I only used it for casual use on wireless mode anyway, as my desktop doesn’t have Bluetooth.
As for battery life, they state that it lasts for 8 hours on a charge. Unfortunately due to my lazy ways, and the fact that I can’t use Bluetooth on my laptop, I can’t back that up.
So overall, on the outside, it doesn’t look like much of a change. And I’d wish they’d freshened up the design a bit. But that’s fine as it still looks pretty good. But what makes up for that is all the improvements below the surface.
The introduction of the Kailh Box switches gives us more options, but there is that keycap stress issue. But I think for the most part, it’s fine. Definitely try out the Box Browns or Box Whites if you want something a bit more unique.
The major improvement in the software is a huge plus for me. It far exceeded my expectations. It’s easy to use, works perfectly well, and just looks so legit.
And then the little things, like the on and off switch. The improved stabilisers. USB type C. The extra blank keycaps.The detailed downloadable manual. All of this just adds even more value to the board.
In my eyes, it truly is a worthy successor to the original. It maintains its middle of the pack price range. Not being as cheap as these other budget 60% boards, but being much better. And it’s not as much as like the Vortex Poker 3. So for an easy affordable 60% keyboard, I’d definitely recommend this.