I’ve already reviewed a few budget mechanical keyboards from a full-sized 104 keys down to a 75% 82 keys keyboard, but I’ve yet to experience a super compact 60% keyboard like what we have here today.
60% keyboards are not for everyone because you lose a lot of valuable keys that might slow you down in terms of productivity, you lose not only the numpad but also the frequently used arrow keys in return of the small form factor. But what we have here today, which is the Anne Pro 2 60% Dual Mode Mechanical Keyboard, has something up its sleeve that makes transitioning to this small form factor layout pretty easy.
MY EARLY BREAKDOWN
Pros: Good build quality, Polished design, Decent Gateron switch, Intuitive software, Has a very good set of features
Cons: Relatively expensive, Software lacks a couple of useful functionalities
Model: ANNE PRO 2
Layout: 60% ANSI
Keys Amount: 61 Keys
Case: ABS Black/White Case
Switch: Gateron Switch (Brown Switch, Red Switch, Blue Switch)
Connection: Dual Mode
USB Wired (Windows 7/8/10, for Mac, Linux)
Bluetooth: LE 4.0 (Windows 7/8/10, for Mac, Linux)
In terms of design and construction, the Anne pro 2 looks very clean and has very decent build quality, it does pack some weight to it of around 622g and there’s little to no flex thanks to its rigid body. The overall look is very pleasing especially with the white version that we have right here.
Looking at the back we have the USB Type C port.
And then on the other side, we can see the front profile of the keyboard.
Flipping on its side, we can see that the bottom housing’s profile is slanted for a more ergonomic design, and it does have a nice angled shape at the bottom. The keycaps use the OEM profile while the housing itself is also high profile, allowing the keyboard to have this cleaner look hiding the switches.
The bezel of the housing is also very thin with chamfered edges adding to the overall aesthetics of the Anne Pro 2.
At the bottom, we have 4 slim rubber feet and a small on and off switch for the Bluetooth connectivity.
Going back in front, the layout is pretty standard and the fonts are quite nice, not gamery but also not the cleanest. This is a 60% keyboard with 61 keys which means we don’t have the numpad and it also lacks dedicated arrow keys. But the layout itself uses the ANSI standard so replacing the keycaps will not be a problem.
Looking at the side of the keycaps we can see the legends for the layers which we’re going to tackle in depth later.
This keyboard comes with a variety of colorful PBT keycaps and a keycap puller allowing us to customize the keyboard out of the box, they’re basically saying that you can make the Anne Pro 2 very personal and the only limit is your imagination.
Speaking of customization, let’s discuss the different lighting modes of the Anne Pro 2. Unlike most keyboards out there with tons of lighting modes, the Anne Pro 2 only has 11, which I don’t mind since most of the time I set mine to the basic ones such as static color, breathing, and rainbow effect which the Anne Pro 2 has.
The Anne Pro 2 has true RGB lighting which means it is capable of up to 16.8 million colors, and the transition between colors on a single LED is very smooth. The only downside is the LEDs are located at the bottom of the switch so it’s not as bright as other keyboards like the Ajazz AK33. Regardless, the illumination on the Anne Pro 2 is still pretty decent.
Switch and Keycaps
The Anne Pro 2 uses brown switches which are tactile ones, it uses Gateron which is one of the best Cherry MX clone switches out there. It is very smooth and almost identical to the original Cherry MX Browns. We’ll discuss more on this later when we compare it to other brown switches.
In terms of the keycaps, this has PBT double-shot keycaps which is very nice considering the price of this keyboard, it feels smooth, unlike most keycaps that I’ve tried before.
The double-shot molding span across the entire keycap and the overall thickness is around 1.2mm. Being a PBT keycap this will not shine that easily compared to ABS keycaps.
Here’s a size comparison between some of my keyboards.
I’ve compared the three keyboards that I have right now that has brown switches. the Razer Blackwidow Stealth 2013 with Cherry MX browns, the Royal Kludge G87 with RK browns and the Anne Pro 2 with Gateron browns.
In terms of actuation weight, without looking in these switches specifications, the Gateron and Cherry MX browns feel almost the same with the Cherry MX being a little bit heavier because of the more pronounced tactile bump, while the RK browns are noticeably the heaviest.
When it comes to smoothness, the Gateron and Cherry MX feel almost the same with a very smooth up and down glide while being pressed, while the RK browns feel noticeably scratchier.
With regards to tactile bump, the Cherry MX browns have the most tactile bump while the Gateron has the least, the RK browns sit on the middle on this test.
When it comes to switch and keycaps stability, the Gateron is the most stable without much wiggle on it, the RK browns sits in the middle while the Cherry MX on the Razer Stealth Blackwidow 2013 has the most wiggle on it.
Personally, I prefer the Gateron brown over the Cherry MX brown because I love linears and I also love brown switches, and having just a little bit of tactile bump with the Gateron brown hit the sweet spot for me.
I am not an expert on this as I continue to learn about mechanical keyboards but I’ve spent a lot of time testing these, and I just based my thoughts with what I felt rather than just check the specifications, with that said, I could still be wrong so feel free to drop your comments below.
I would also like to point out that the stabilizers on the Anne Pro 2 are very good, by far the most silent and stable spacebar that I’ve tried with minimum rattle.
Layers and Features
Moving on let’s discuss the different layers of this keyboard, which is very vital in terms of transitioning coming from a full sized one.
With the help of the Obinslab Starter software which you can download from their website, you can take advantage of these layers to compensate the lost keys that you otherwise have with a full-size keyboard.
The top layer is obviously the main functions of this keyboard, the second layer is the FN1 which you can use to toggle the arrow keys by pressing FN1 + WASD keys, and then you can also use this to toggle the function keys up top as well as the special keys like print screen, home, end, insert, delete and etc.
For the FN2 layer, you can use this to toggle the Bluetooth connectivity from 1 to 4 as well as to toggle the different lighting modes. You can also toggle the WASD arrow keys here and the special keys. Both these layers are deeply customizable depending on your preference.
The last layer is the TAP layer, which I think is one of the most awesome features of the Anne Pro 2 that enables users to easily adjust or transition to this 60% layout. Basically, you can tap the FN1, FN2, right control, and shift to act as the arrow keys while maintaining their original functionality when you press and hold them.
Aside from the layers, the Anne Pro 2 also has this magic FN key feature wherein you can use the Capslock key as either the FN1 or FN2 function keys, allowing you to quickly toggle layers using the Capslock while also maintaining its original functionality.
These layer features can be enabled and customized using the software.
Moving on let’s discuss the Bluetooth connectivity of the Anne Pro 2.
This keyboard uses Bluetooth 4.0 protocol and can be connected up to 4 devices including smartphones and tablets, it is also compatible with Mac and Linux operating system. Pairing is super easy, just turn on Bluetooth on your device and on the Anne Pro 2, press FN + any number from 1 to 4 for 5 seconds until the key starts to blink, pair it and you’re good to go. Once you’ve paired it with multiple devices you can easily switch between them by pressing FN + the corresponding number once.
Performance, Typing Experience and Gaming
Now, let’s discuss the performance of this keyboard.
The Anne Pro 2 features NKRO or N-key rollover, which basically allows you to press multiple keys at the same time without conflicts. As per my testing, it does just that via wired mode without any problem. It does not work in Bluetooth mode which makes sense because the keyboard needs to directly communicate with your PC using the HID report protocol for the NKRO to work.
When it comes to typing, the Anne Pro 2 with Gateron brown switch is certainly a smooth experience, everything from the key switches to the stabilizers is very smooth and the overall typing experience is very good, better than any previous keyboards that I’ve tried. It should be given the fact that this is also twice as expensive than most of the keyboards that I’ve reviewed before.
For gaming, like most keyboards that have a proper NKRO feature, the Anne Pro 2 performed very well as expected. No issues with key conflicts whatsoever. In wireless mode, I also didn’t encounter any noticeable input lag but you’ll lose the NKRO feature, so just bear that in mind.
In terms of battery life, the Anne pro 2 has a built-in 1900mAh Li-ion battery. As per my testing, battery life is around 8-9 hours give or take via Bluetooth and with LEDs turned on. Battery endurance will certainly increase when the LEDs are turned off. There’s a battery level indicator on the software as well as on the keyboard itself by pressing FN2 + 8. It also has a power saving feature which will auto turn off the keyboard when not in use for a certain period of time.
Obinslab Starter Software
Lastly, as usual, before we end this review, let’s talk about the software.
At the time of this review, I’ve already received a couple of firmware update, which is a good sign that the developers are continually working on improving this.
On the main tab, we have the basic info such as battery level, running time, and some valuable settings like the tap functionality, magic fn feature, and macro. You can also reset the Bluetooth bindings here in case you’re having any difficulties with pairing.
Next, we have the Layout tab wherein you can basically change anything on the keyboard depending on your preference. You can change a single key’s functionality to a different letter, number, modifier, function keys, you get the idea.
Then we have the layers (FN1, FN2, TAP) which we’ve already discussed earlier, these are also highly customizable.
Next, we have the Light tab wherein you can customize the keyboard with different color patterns and lighting effects. You can also choose any colors from this palette and as per my testing, it’s pretty accurate.
Next, we have the macro tab wherein you can set up macro recordings depending on your use case scenario. For example, I did a few macro recordings here for my photo and video editing workflow.
By the way, all the settings from the layouts, lighting, and macros can be downloaded to your keyboard’s onboard memory, so that you can toggle and use it even on wireless mode.
The Obinslab software is pretty good but it lacks a couple of functions that I think is very useful, like the ability to launch a program and assign key combinations on a single key. I’ve already sent an email to Obsinslab and I hope they can add that in the future.
Built-in Motion Sensor
Before I forgot, did you know that the Anne Pro 2 has a built-in motion sensor? I found that out when I accidentally press FN2 + 5, which is actually the game wheel. I tested it on joystick test and it actually works. So you can basically use this as a steering wheel on some supported games.
In conclusion, there are a lot of 60% keyboards out there in different price points and switch variations, but what separates the Anne pro 2 amongst the rest is the incredible software, you can get any switch you want with any keyboard out there, but the onboard chip of the keyboard alongside the accompanying software makes a ton of difference in terms of performance and the overall functionality. Being a 60% keyboard, you lose a lot of valuable keys in return of the small form factor, but with the aid of the Obinslab starter software, the transition becomes pretty seamless. You can customize every bit of the keyboard and take advantage of the different layers to your preference and workflow, and I think this makes the keyboard very personal. I mean you can set different function keys and assign different shortcuts and macros, that If you give this to another person they wouldn’t be able to use it normally as they should. And because the form factor is super small, you can save a ton of desk space and you can stow this away anywhere you want.
The Anne Pro 2 has decent build quality, a very clean design, pretty standard layout, good selection of switches and very powerful software. It is a bit pricey but I’m pretty sure you’ll get your money’s worth with this.