The current state of the Swedish brand Mionix can be described by the phrase «the concept has changed.» The company itself began operations in 2007 and was engaged in the production of gaming peripherals, however, in 2017 they decided to reconsider the positioning of their devices. And to understand exactly how, just go to their official website. Under the slogan “Refresh”, they decided to move from a purely Gaming direction to a Lifestyle aimed at a wide range of young people (both in age and in soul). This is partly reflected in the fact that instead of boring blacks and grays, their classic mice and accessories are painted in acidic pinks, yellows and blues. For the sake of truth, it is worth noting that black and gray have not disappeared anywhere either. But the most interesting thing that surfaced in their wake of rebranding, from my point of view, is the Wei mechanical keyboard, which this review is dedicated to.
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||50|
|Switch type||Cherry MX Red (RGB)|
|Changing the angle of the body||–|
|Built-in memory, KB||+|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|Handling rollovers||6KRO / NKRO|
|USB cable length, m||1,45|
|Braid material||No tangles|
|Material||Plastic, rubber, metal|
|Software||+ (Mionix Hub)|
|Removable palm rest||–|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||440 x 140 x 38|
|OS Compatibility||Windows / Mac OS|
|Peculiarities||Fully rubberized base, coil cord, interchangeable keycaps and wrist rest (optional)|
|Average cost, $||150|
Contents of delivery
The packaging of the device is not particularly informative and is made in the style of «photorealism». On the front there is an image of the keyboard, the company logo right in the center and a small Wei name on the bottom (with the slogan — «for players and artists»). There is not much more information on the back side. It briefly lists in nine languages the six main advantages of the product, the equipment and the type of layout are indicated.
There is no special protection inside, only a soft pad and a cardboard insert behind which the wire is hidden. On the inner substrate, donuts, french fries and ice cream are cutely depicted, in general, everything that is especially warm and expensive for a young man in the street from the point of view of the company’s designers.
The package includes a short instruction and two stickers with the brand logo.
Appearance and design
In terms of external design, Mionix Wei turned out to be very successful. The keyboard is completely painted in soft gray and made using the «skeleton» technology, in which the key mechanisms are half outward, and the keycaps visually just hover above the surface. The rim of the case is plastic, the thickness in the back part does not exceed 20 mm, and in front it is thinner than 10 mm. The top panel is made of 1mm thick aluminum alloy, all mounting screws are small and hidden under the keycaps. The key layout is standard and full, with 104 switches. An extended Shift and a single-row Enter indicate that this is an «American» style of button layout. The US badge on the box subtly hints at the same fact.
The Latin alphabet on the keyboard is engraved in the center of the keys at the top, and the Cyrillic alphabet is shifted to the right, down. The Latin is well read only when the backlight is on, and the Cyrillic alphabet is perfectly visible in daylight, but looks dull in the dark and with the backlighting of the keycaps. There are no additional functions for the block of printed keys by default, the only thing that the user can do non-standard is to switch the five keyboard profiles using the Fn + (F1-F5) button combinations. In addition, when Caps Lock is enabled, the corresponding key changes its color to white, since there is no separate indication for this. And from the unusual one can note the Win key, which is marked as «os».
The block of arrows, numeric and editor keys also slightly differs from the standard in terms of functions and markings. The usual Home, End Page, Up/Down commands are marked with corresponding arrows. Instead of the Print Screen, Scroll Lock, Pause/Break buttons, the buttons for changing the backlight brightness (three levels plus a complete shutdown), the type of lighting effect (five options are available) and blocking non-game commands (the Alt, «os» and Tab keys are disabled) are active by default. To use the standard commands on these buttons, they will have to be pressed in combination with Fn. When switching the lighting effect, the digital row of buttons on the left, from the first to the fifth digit, lights up in white, marking the number of the effect in order. When the buttons are locked, they are briefly marked in red, and when unlocked, in white. Indication Scroll Lock and Num Lock is not provided in principle. Instead, four additional mechanical buttons have been added in the upper right corner: decrease and increase the volume, the Start / Pause buttons and the “next track” buttons. If you press the volume down button and Fn at the same time, the sound will turn off completely. And Fn + «next track» will turn on the previous track.
Since there are no folding legs, the angle of inclination of the keys is constant and cannot be changed. The keycaps themselves have a cylindrical recess in the center, the inclinations along the rows are weakly expressed and do not particularly affect anything. The yellow rubber cover with Mionix written on it can be easily removed, but nothing but the PCB is visible behind it.
From the front, the keyboard still feels quite thin despite the full height of the keys. However, in fact, its final height differs little from standard keyboards, the keycaps are still approximately the same level of 30–40 mm as always.
The keyboard has classic Cherry MX Red switches, but they are made in a transparent case and with an LED soldered directly on the printed circuit board. These are linear movements, with an activation force of 45 grams and a guaranteed MTBF of 50 million clicks. Long key stabilizers are of good quality, with hidden tie rods, making it easy to remove and put back all the keys for cleaning. All long keys are stabilized normally in the horizontal and vertical plane, with the exception of the dangling space bar. The keycaps are made of translucent plastic and painted on the outside. They are engraved with a laser.
The signal cord enters the keyboard body in the middle, the anti-kink protection is small and hard. The wire at the base is coiled, probably as a protection against sudden jerks when moving the device. The keyboard has no additional external ports.
The signal cord has no braid and is 1.45 meters long. It can be slightly stretched due to the spiral at the base. The USB connector is quite large by today’s standards.
The base of the keyboard is unique in its kind. It is completely covered with rubber, in which the name of the brand is engraved in the center. Folding legs are missing. In principle, there are no questions about stability on the table, the device can only be moved by force.
The keyboard has individual RGB backlighting for all keys except the space bar. Mechanically, you can adjust its brightness (three levels and complete shutdown). And choose one of the five effects (constant glow, breathing, fading backlight of the pressed key, diverging waves from the pressed key, and a wave with a change in the glow spectrum). You can fine-tune the color and effects of the LEDs through the driver. The color rendition is quite correct and beautiful. The illumination of the Latin alphabet is bright, while the Cyrillic alphabet is visible, but rather dimly.
The Mionix Wei keyboard uses the Mionix Hub universal driver (current version 1.5) as a software, which can be downloaded from the official website. The keyboard has a built-in memory for five separate profiles, where all key assignments and backlighting are saved. The driver starts exclusively forcibly and edits these settings in real time. In general, after the initial setup, the driver is no longer required. In the “Information” tab, you can update the keyboard firmware (it is downloaded separately, you will need to specify the path to it), go to the download section on the official website, see answers to the most frequently asked questions, get support (not active in this version), go to the official website. Here you can also reset all device settings to the original ones and select a keyboard layout suitable for the physical location of the buttons (available: English in two versions — American and British, Nordic, German, French, Russian and Japanese). In the lower left corner of the program window, you can select the interface language from nine options, including Russian.
In the «Buttons» section, you can remap commands on all 108 available keys. To do this, select one of the five profiles (by the way, their current number can be adjusted in the range from one to five), where commands will be recorded. Then highlight the desired button. Five options will be available for it: 1) by default (reset to the base value); 2) match (reassign to any single keyboard command); 3) keyboard shortcuts (up to 30 characters can be written in sequence, they can be played back with or without delays); 4) multimedia (play/pause, mute, decrease/increase volume, next/previous track); 5) disable (the key becomes inactive). In addition, here you can use the NKRO anti-ghosting mode, in which pressing all the buttons will be processed simultaneously.
In the «Color» section, each key can be set to an individual backlight color, choosing from a palette of 16.8 million options. Keys can be selected both individually and in blocks by dragging a selection «frame» over them. Here, the brightness is adjusted in the range of four positions (simultaneously for all buttons), continuous illumination is set, or with a gradient in one direction or the other (color overflow) at an angle of +/- 90 degrees. Among the effects available are breathing, backlighting when pressed, a light wave from a pressed button, and a color wave running from left to right. Each of the five profiles supports its own backlight settings.
Ergonomics and testing
In addition to the standard package, the manufacturer offers accessories for Mionix Wei in the form of palm rests and replaceable keycaps. The coasters measure 440x100x10mm and look quite fun (there are black, pink, yellow and blue colors to choose from). The lower part of the stand is made of polyurethane foam, and the upper part is made of rag material, which allows you to use it even as a rug. True, the manufacturer does not specify how to technically operate the mouse in such a narrow space. This miracle costs about $ 20, and I really want to shorten it to at least 60 mm in width. Although it is worth noting that the convenience when using the keyboard is still added, at least when typing large amounts of text. Replacement keycaps are available in complete sets in yellow, blue, and pink, and can be adapted to five layouts (English, Nordic, German, French, or Japanese).
I would like to start my review of the ergonomics of the Mionix Wei with a review of the build quality of the device. In general, it is at a decent level, but in some places there is a “novelty” of the device. In particular, although the case, which consists of an aluminum plate, plastic and a rubber lining, is strong enough for diagonal bending and has no squeaks and backlashes, it is slightly bent upwards in the middle. Whether this solution is a feature or a defect is difficult to assess. When printing, the deflection is not felt, the keyboard does not spring, so you can notice this feature only if you specifically press your fingers on the center of the device. The second point is the lack of legs. The solution is both original and controversial. It is possible that someone will want to increase the angle of the keyboard, for example, to better see the keys. The third point is that long keys can creak if they are not fully seated on the stabilizer, or if you press on their very edge. Yes, and the gap has a noticeable backlash in both planes. All this is very similar to the childhood diseases of a promising device, which the manufacturer did not eliminate only because they did not receive enough feedback from users.
Now let’s move on to the good. Wei has an understated and well-researched minimalist style. This is rarely seen in modern mechanical keyboards, which often fall into one of the extremes — either they look like a brick or like a spaceship. Here everything is matched perfectly — color, size, shape. An absolutely standard layout does not require any time to get used to, therefore, if the user knows the touch typing technique, then he simply sits down at this keyboard and types. The height of the keys is quite normal, but due to the low body and the absence of unnecessary protruding edges, the device does not cause fatigue even when used without a palm rest.
Cherry MX Red mechanical switches are timeless classics. Very soft in their activation, linear and without unnecessary overtones. Equally well suited for both gaming and typing (unless the user is a rabid fan of the warm lamp knock, as well as tactile, visual and auditory feedback at the same time). Separately, I note that behind these mechanisms no false positives were noticed when they are squeezed from the slightest touch.
I really liked the software. It is easy to learn, visually and intuitively clear and stable. Again, nothing more. The ability to select the interface language and layout, firmware updates, color management, key remapping and recording short sequences of macro commands. And most importantly — five standalone profiles that work without software and switch instantly right from the keyboard with a keyboard shortcut.
The backlight looks nice and has the correct color reproduction. The Cyrillic alphabet looks dull against the background of the Latin alphabet, but it is quite distinguishable, at least when using light shades.
By default, the Mionix Wei keyboard is capable of processing six simultaneously pressed keys in any combination. This mode is included for compatibility purposes to avoid problems when starting PCs based on older motherboards.
If there are no problems and you need to press more than six buttons at the same time, you can turn on the NKRO mode through the driver interface. Then the device controller will be able to work at least all 108 buttons activated together.
It is difficult to say whether the Swedish company Mionix has chosen the right path for its further development, having abandoned its focus on purely gaming peripherals. But I definitely like the first fruits of such a step. The Wei keyboard turned out to be a very original product in many respects. Although it would seem that it is new? In fact, nothing, but everything is chosen in moderation, and in the right proportions: a discreet but not boring appearance, high durability, high-quality switches, beautiful backlighting, built-in memory and simple software. This is exactly the case when a change in the concept of one brand can revive and spur the entire industry as a whole.
Any new product always has some flaws, and Wei is no exception in this regard. Claims to it can be justifiably presented for the dangling space and creaky, in places, stabilizers of long keys. In addition, the keyboard body is slightly curved up in the middle and it is not clear whether this is an engineering decision to compensate for the lack of folding legs, or a defect. It’s good that it doesn’t affect the feel of printing. A certain skepticism is also caused by the accessories offered by the manufacturer for this product.
The Mionix Wei keyboard can be recommended for purchase to both enthusiastic aesthetes and those who want high-quality mechanics for everyday use, and not just for games. However, before buying, you should carefully weigh and compare all the offers in this price range, since this keyboard is far from the most affordable in terms of its cost.