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Weikav Record Alice review

The Weikav Record Alice is an ultra-affordable kit if we consider the anodized alu case and the neat leaf-spring suspension.

KBD.news
Published January 29, 2024
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There are already plenty of posts and reviews about the Weikav Record out there, this model is not that new at all, but here are my impressions anyway.

TLDR;

The Weikav Record Alice, sent my way by MechKeys, is a really nice and affordable Alice style keyboard. Available in gorgeous colors starting at $71*, it comes in a CNC'd and anodized alu case (acrylic version from $57), and features cool leaf-spring mounting. While there are more ergonomic layouts out there, the split spacebar can do wonders (and should be mandatory on all keyboards imo). All in all, huge bang for your buck if you like this layout.

(*) Feel free to use the KBDNEWS coupon code for a 5% discount.

Disclaimer

I received this sample from MechKeys. To make it clear, I'm not paid to write about this product, but as always, receiving a free sample may introduce all kind of bias (both negative and positive in my experience) – keep this in mind while reading this review!

Considering the interest in ergonomic keyboards, the Alice style keyboards from WEIKAV, especially the recent WEIKAV RECORD Alice kit, have been gaining popularity. We believe it could be an excellent choice for a review, providing a unique and comfortable typing experience – MechKeys.

Content

The tested sample was the ano silver version. Packaging wise, it comes in a nice cardboard box, accompanied by a brief instruction leaflet, a keycap and switch puller, basic cable, and a screwdriver. (I know it's just a little thing but I LOVE this tiny magnetic Hexagon/Allen head screwdriver.)

Pic: Box

Box

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As you can see, MechKeys was kind enough to put a set of Gateron Oil Kings and a PIIFOX Green Wheat Field keycap set in the box as well.

First impressions

To begin with, this is my first Alice style board. After a headstart into columnar ergo splits I've never felt the urge to get an Alice just to try it out, so I'm especially grateful to MechKeys for the opportunity.

As a barebone kit, the Record came assembled, clip-in stabilizers mounted. All you have to do is to put switches in it (hotswap), and some nice caps of course.

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Impressive build, hefty metal case, nice weight, but my first impression was that it wasn't designed with modding in mind. (I was wrong.) I mean, where are the screws? It turned out that they are neatly hidden beneath easily removable silicone bumpons. I really like this approach. You just have to unscrew them to get access to the PCB and to admire the Record's inner beauty – especially the leaf-spring structure.

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After I quickly found the screws, nothing could stop me from stripping down and eviscerating this pure Record so we can learn the most from this encounter.

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Appearance

Distinctive Alice layout, CNC machined case, anodized finish, beryllium-copper weight with "Record" engraving, and a decoration RGB strip define the overall appearance of the Record. Classy.

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Side profile:

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Colors:

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Beautiful color options, but I'm glad I received the silver variant after last week's struggle with a black model (collecting fingerprints and dust particles). I was relieved to see that I can grab the Record without gloves, and don't have to dust it off every minute either.

In addition, I like the reflections of various deskmats on the silver surface:

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Layout

No wonder Alice layouts have gained popularity in the recent years. In contrast to true splits with columnar staggering, the semi-split unibody arrangement is not just approachable for people coming from standard layouts but also appealing for the eye. While hardcore ergo fans wouldn't call this ergonomic because of the remains of the horizontal staggering, the promise of a split spacebar alone offers great opportunity to completely rethink your keymap and improve your workflow.

(Attention! If you are looking for an ergo board because of already developed discomfort or pain, other than visiting a specialist, I'd suggest to look into symmetric, columnar true splits – or even better: a custom board designed around your hands/fingers.)

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Polycarbonate plate with plate mounted clip-in stabilizers already installed. The strange pattern here and there is simply the foam pressed to the plate, not permanent. For the sake of completeness: the PCB does not support screw-in stabs.

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Layout variations? Not really, this is ANSI only. No country for ISO dude(tte)s.

If you are new to this layout, here are some major features to sum up the characteristics of this specific Alice (since there are many derivatives):

  • 67 keys
  • partially angled halves
  • split spacebar (2.25u and 2.75u)
  • TKL & FRL (no numpad or function row)
  • 3-key button cluster in the upper left corner (default: Esc+PgUp+PgDn)
  • arrows
  • B keys on both sides

Specs

  • Monoblock split Alice layout
  • 67 keys, MX, hotswap
  • Leaf-spring mounted structure
  • Typing angle: 8 degrees
  • Per-key RGB LEDs (south facing)
  • CNC machined 6063 aluminum alloy chassis
  • Anodized finish
  • Multi-layered foam padding
  • PC plate
  • Single-key slotted PCB
  • Beryllium-copper weight
  • Wired Type-C USB interface
  • Dimensions: 347x131x43.4 mm
  • Weight: 1300 g (official), 1478 g (my build).

Structure

Leaf spring mounting

Let me stop at this feature for a second.

The leaf springs provide dramatic flex. I mean, theoretically in the magnitude of about 5 mm. Unlike with flex cuts alone, using leaf springs on the perimeter of the case results in a more heterogeneously soft typing experience over the whole typing area.

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Gaskets placed at the end of the leaf springs add to the sensation.

Pic: Leaf spring gasket

Leaf spring gasket

Other than this spring structure, there are additional flex cuts in the PCB and PC plate.

Plate

Split PC plate with flex cuts.

Pic: Flex cut

Flex cut

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Per-key LED

Per-key RGB LEDs (south facing wherever possible) are a must-have for those who are into this. Not a critical feature for others.

As already mentioned, MechKeys sent me a set of Oil Kings along with the parcel, and while I love these switches in general, I'd suggest you to choose something else if you'd like to enjoy the lights. Oil Kings simply block most of the light of the SMD LEDs.

Instead, I tested a bunch of other switches with a more LED-friendly design from the samples received from Kinetic Labs recently:

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I wouldn't list all of the two dozen switch types here, but the difference is clearly visible. If you can't recognize some of them, feel free to reach out to me.

Decoration light

Another notable feature is the decoration light below the left macro cluster. Breaking the clean top surface, 8 LEDs illuminate an opal diffuser from the backside. Easily customizable, but just like at the DR-70F, many animations pretty much look the same with such a short strip and small area.

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PCB

Wow, nice PCB. Most of you won't get this far, sandwiched between thick foam layers, so here is a photo of it completely stripped down:

Pic: Weikav Record Alice PCB

Weikav Record Alice PCB

Hotswap sockets and per-key flex cuts:

Pic: PCB with per-key flex cuts

PCB with per-key flex cuts

Firmware

While the Record does not support QMK, it supports VIA.

Of course the board works out of the box, the accompanying leaflet contains a map of functions available via using the FN layer, but let's assume you want more control:

Pic: VIA interface

VIA interface

The product page at MechKeys points to the necessary VIA stuff (instructions and .JSON file), so customizing your keymap should be straightforward if you are familiar with VIA's interface.

I quickly swapped some letters according to my go-to logical layout, plus played with setting up double functions for the two spacebars (mod-tap makes so much sense in this case imo).

Building process

As already mentioned, the kit comes practically assembled, all you have to do is to add switches and caps. Nevertheless, I have to say that the building process is a real joy. I can't help but keep disassembling and reassembling the Record to try different caps and switches. (You don't really have to disassemble the board to do this, but it helps with grabbing caps and switches e.g. in the corners.)

To be honest, first I was a bit wary about the dye-sub caps with front legends, but they are quite nice. A bit Van Gogh-ish in pastel colors. The set may definitely fit in a light, even white environment. Unfortunately, it doesn't really match most of my deskmats which are black.

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One big plus for MechKeys: they made sure to send me the extended 135 pcs set, with the spacebar add-on, so this is an Alice-ready set:

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Having convex split spacebars is a game-changer. You can't really compare the feeling to resting your thumbs on the sharp edges of classic modifiers.

I wanted to try out some double-shot keycaps though:

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To consider before purchasing

  • Keycap compatibility: Not all keycap sets are offered with Alice style layouts in mind, some (or even most) of them may lack caps for the split spacebar or a second B. Carefully check any set before hitting the Buy button.
  • The texture of the case surface is a bit rougher than the recently reviewed DR-70F. This choice is a double-edged sword: it prevents the board collecting fingerprints (cool!) but on very close inspection you can see this roughness at edge cuts. However, this is a design choice and not a quality issue – and it comes at half the price anyway!

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Conclusion

The Weikav Record Alice is a great kit for an unbelievably great price. You get a hefty anodized CNC'd aluminum case, RGB lights with something of a curiosity: the leaf-spring structure which is definitely worth a try. If you prefer the Alice layout or just want to try it out for the first time, the Record is an affordable and easily customizable board to start your journey.

Availability

If you like the Weikav Record Alice, check out MechKeys (and don't forget to use the KBDNEWS discount code to save 5%!):

Closing credits

Cast (products in the photos) in order of appearance:

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Published on Mon 29th Jan 2024. Featured in KBD #153.


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