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REVIEW : Ducky x Varmilo Miya Pro Mechanical Keyboard

May 6, 2018

Today we’re going to check out a collaboration between two big guns in the mechanical keyboard industry, Ducky and Varmilo.

 

I truly found this interesting that these 2 companies would make a keyboard together, Ducky being from Taiwan, and Varmilo from China, but here it is, this is the Ducky / Varmilo Miya Pro - Sakura edition.

CONTENTS

 

- Miya Pro Mechanical Keyboard

- Pink wire keycap puller

- Pink USB C cable (with strap)

- Extra Sakura escape keycap

- Extra blank white spacebar

- User manual

- Warranty information

 

LAYOUT & SIZE

 

This is regarded as a 65% keyboard, and has 68 keys. So it’s very much like a tenkeyless keyboard, but without the function row keys on top. But we also lose a few dedicated nav cluster keys, and the dedicated menu key.

 

However of course with smaller keyboards, we have these keys on the secondary function layer, with the F1 to F12 keys on the number row, menu on the right control, and the rest of the nav cluster on the right of the alpha keys.

 

And this allows us to have a much more compact keyboard.

 

However Varmilo’s approach on a 65% keyboard, isn’t the most compact. It’s only 1 column shorter than a standard tenkeyless keyboard, and this is because they have kept a 4 key nav cluster in the top right, rather than squeezing everything together like on the TADA68 and many other 65% keyboards, which are 1 column shorter than this.

 

Although one advantage of this, is that the keycaps are completely standard, and are very easily replaceable. Although I would argue that you wouldn’t want to replace these keycaps anyway.

 

DESIGN & BUILD

 

they aren’t messing around with the Sakura theme. This is quite the pink keyboard, but not to the extent of the some of their older stuff, or like the Filco pink keyboard.

 

What I can say straight away, is that this is essentially a plastic cased version of the well known Varmilo VA68M, which is made from aluminium. So the case being made from pink plastic is the major difference. It’s a nice slightly textured surface which doesn’t pick up any fingerprints, and stays reasonably clean. And it’s a pretty pastelly, paly kind of pink.

It keeps that simplistic rectangular design of the VA68, with pretty minimal 5mm bezels.

It is a high profile design, so the keyswitches aren’t exposed. And looking at the side profile, it has a slight inclination to it, with a slightly curved top edge.

 

KEYCAPS

 

These are Cherry profile keycaps, which are shorter than the typical OEM kind, and are generally preferred in the enthusiast community. The keycaps are dye sublimated, with this kind of hot pink  coloured legends, so they’ll be quite durable over time. And the legends like other Varmilo keyboards, are simple and slightly italic.

 

I like that that haven’t gone all out pink, and have only kept the modifiers pink, which is the same colour as the case. The spacebar is a nice touch, and is also dye sublimated, looking quite sharp and clean. Although we do get that extra blank white spacebar in the box.

 

These are made from 1.4mm thick PBT plastic, and have a slightly rough texture to them, which should be quite shine resistant.

 

LIGHTING

 

Unfortunately the lighting does bleed through the pink keycaps which doesn’t look great. But the white keycaps are pretty solid, but will bleed with the room lights off.

 

The lighting is a different kind of pink to the case, and also to the keycap legends, so really, it’s like there’s 3 shades of pink on the keyboard. And this just acts as underglow for the keycaps, as these of course aren’t backlit keycaps. And the lighting does shine off that pink backplate, really accentuating that pinkness.

 

There’s a couple of different effects, which are always just a bit of fun. And these are on the Q to ] keys, via the FN key. And there are 4 brightness levels for all, but you can’t turn it all the way down to off. So to turn off the lighting, we have to press function and X.

 

 

Probably the most annoying thing with this lighting is that the Page up or page down LEDs cannot be turned off. Page up signifies that we are using the number row, and page down signifies that we are using the function row instead.

 

See video for lighting demonstration.

 

CONCLUSION

 

So that brings up the question. What did Ducky even do? It clearly just looks like a plastic version of the Varmilo VA68 or 69M. Everything about it is the same, the keycaps are definitely Varmilo’s, and both the box and ID plate on the bottom of the keyboard say that it has been made in China by this company here.

 

So it is a bit of a weird collaboration to me, especially since it’s pretty much known as the Ducky Miya Pro.

 

But disregarding all that. This is great keyboard. The build quality is great, and is what you expect of Varmilo. While the enclosure is plastic, it still has the internal steel plate, it has great quality PBT keycaps, and great stabilisers to accompany the Silent keyswitches.

 

We get that great compact 65% form factor, and I bet if you can use a TKL, you can use this no problem.

 

It is also cheaper than the VA68M by a good amount. But if you’re seeking metal, then they are basically the same keyboard.

 

In terms of off the shelf ready to go 65% keyboards, there isn’t a great deal of competition. The main one of this class being the Leopold FC660M, which is another great choice. If you can go custom and build your own, there’s a bunch of options. But I guess the Sakura theme will play a big role in whether someone will get it or not. There’s not many keyboards that look like this, and it is special.  I’ve also seen the new Panda themed version, so perhaps there may be even more themes in the future.

 

So it’s nice to see a bit of variety in the pre-built market, and perhaps this can make a nice gift to someone.

 

 

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