Review by John Reppion, Reppion & Moore
May 5, 2023
Back in October 2022, the lovely people at Wombat Keyboards sent me one of their Pine Pro keyboards, and I absolutely loved it. So, when they very generously sent me one of their Coleus keyboards last month, I had high expectations. So, did the Coleus live up to them?
The Coleus is an 84-key / 75% keyboard with a compact US English Apple layout. I should say right from the start that this isn’t a layout I’m used to working on. It’s compatible with Windows 8/10/11, macOS 11/12/13, Linux, Android, and iOS.
To really understand the full range of features and functions of the Coleus, I first had to download the manual from the Wombat site.
The Coleus connects wirelessly via Bluetooth 5.0 (three Bluetooth device connections can be stored and cycled between using Fn + 2, 3, and 4), RF2.4GHz (dongle in the box), or wired via USB 2.0 (A to C and C to A adaptors included in the box). The Coleus also has a little dial for volume control (push/click to mute/unmute) which is incorporated at the rear right of the board in an incredibly aesthetically pleasing typewriter Platen Knob style. This dial can also be programmed to control other parameters but, if you know me, you’ll know I’m too scared of irreparably messing things up to try that. At the left rear of the Coleus is a discreet button which, when in Wireless/battery-powered mode, switches the keyboard on and off.
The Coleus has an onboard 1000mAH LiPO battery, which takes five hours to fully charge from empty. The manual recommends that you charge the Coleus at least once a month, for at least two hours.
The Coleus comes in a choice of five colorways: Space Gray, Silver, Pink, Light Green, and Light Blue. I got Grey, which looks kind of industrial and very professional. Keycaps are black with a white surround, they’re low-profile with an inner “step” to fit your fingertip. The keycaps are made of hard-wearing PBT with white dye sublimation characters.
Now, as I’ve already said, although we do have a MacBook in the house (which we were very kindly given by a friend for our eldest to do his schoolwork during lockdown), I’m not really used to working on an Apple layout keyboard. I’ve read other reviewers saying that the Coleus is a lot like a classic Apple Magic keyboard. To me, it basically feels like a deluxe laptop keyboard with all the keys I want and need, but not necessarily in the configuration which my muscle memory expects them to be in.
The Coleus comes with a choice of Low Profile Linear Red or LP Tactile Brown switches. I got the Reds, which are really nice to work on and not too soft feeling (as linear switches sometimes are). The switches are hot-swappable, meaning that they can be easily swapped out for other 2-pin switches with no need for soldering or unnecessary messing about. I did find that when I tried to remove a key from the Coleus to get a look at the switches, the switch lifted right out with the keycap. These keys are tight on there, so that’s just a little something to be aware of if you’re planning on changing things up.
The Coleus weighs just 80 g, so it’s a very lightweight, portable board. It even comes with a lovely little Wombat branded soft pouch to protect it from bumps and dings when it’s in your bag. The Coleus doesn’t have flip-down feet to adjust the typing angle and this, combined with the low-profile keys, does mean that it’s a very flat board to work on. You feel as if you’re typing from above, as opposed to in front of the Coleus. Again, this isn’t something which is going to bother you if you’re used to working on this kind of board but, speaking personally, just being able to tilt the Coleus up a few degrees feels like it would make typing just a little bit more comfortable.
Unlike the Pine Pro, the Coleus is RGB-backlit. Out of the box, the lights are set to a tasteful rainbow ripple effect, but you can work your way through about 15 preset light effects using Fn + → and pick whichever one suits you best. You can also go for a solid single-color backlight (Fn + ← to cycle through the colours) and adjust the brightness of the RGBs using Fn + ↓ and ↑. Further customization is available via Wombat’s own free Pouch software.
Customization of the Coleus using the Pouch software isn’t limited to the keyboard’s lighting. Hotkeys, Macros (10) and other behaviors can also be created and tweaked to the user’s heart’s content.
Ultimately, the Coleus is a compact, lightweight, and extremely powerful keyboard. It has a sleek, minimalist look and feel, and is perfect for both space-saving desktop use and as an on-the-go, take-anywhere keyboard.
Between the Pine Pro and the Coleus, I personally much prefer the former. However, I can definitely see the appeal of the Coleus, especially for Mac users. With its Dedicated Apple hot keys, and the sheer amount of custom options available, the Coleus seems like it’s probably the keyboard many, many Mac users have been waiting for, for a long time.
Read John Reppion's post here: https://www.moorereppion.com/wombat-coleus-keyboard/