A critical review of the Drop Sense75 keyboard: Quality vs Cost

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Drop is well-known for its keyboard components, such as keycaps, and also offers pre-assembled models for those who want a plug-and-play option. These models include the ENTR, priced at $99, the CTRL at $200, and the SHIFT at $250. However, the Sense75, its newest model, is unique in some way.

The Sense75 keyboard has a gasket-mount design, double-shot DCX keycaps, and is compatible with the VIA keymapping software, making it appeal to enthusiasts. The starting price of $349 for the fully assembled version in black color, makes it clear that it’s a high-end product aimed at a specific customer group, which Drop is targeting.

Given the high cost of the Sense75 keyboard, it’s justifiable to examine every aspect of it thoroughly. However, it fails to hold up to close examination.

The Sense75 keyboard’s subdued colors could make it appear like an office keyboard when the RGB is disabled, but that’s not entirely accurate. It has a 75% layout, gasket-mount design, and a volume knob, features that are commonly found in mechanical keyboards. Having these features is not a bad thing, but it makes it difficult for Drop to stand out among other keyboards such as the GMMK Pro and Keychron Q1.

I have been using the fully assembled black version of the Sense75, which is sold by Drop for $349. However, there are other options available. The fully assembled white version is sold for $399 and can also be purchased as a bare-bones model without switches or keycaps, priced at $249 for the black version and $299 for the white version.

The Sense75 is costly compared to other keyboards like the Keychron Q1, which has a similar layout and features such as a gasket-mounting system, RGB lighting, and hot-swap sockets and cost around $180 with keycaps and switches included. It’s currently considered the best premium keyboard on the market. Some may argue that the Sense75 comes with premium aftermarket components as standard, but it only applies if you want the specific components that Drop is offering.

In terms of appearance, the Sense75 is similar to the Keychron Q1. It has a polished and well-designed look, and like the Keychron, it doesn’t have any branding on the top of the keyboard. The area around the volume dial is smooth, unlike the square shape seen on most of Keychron’s Q-series boards. Weighing at a little over 3.1 pounds, the keyboard feels sturdy and well-built, with no rough edges. The clean design is pleasing to the eye.

The Sense75 keyboard has a subtle design, which extends to its RGB lighting. Many mechanical keyboards have RGB lighting now, which typically shines through the keycaps. The Sense75 has per-key RGB lighting and an external light strip, but its keycaps are opaque, and its external lighting points downwards, so when they are turned off, you can’t see any evidence of them. This is good news for people who don’t like RGB lighting.

The keyboard comes with a set of Drop’s DCX keycaps, which are sold separately for $99. Drop’s keycap design is an attempt to compete with GMK, which is known for producing high-quality aftermarket keycaps. Drop’s keycaps are made of thick, high-quality ABS plastic and have double-shot construction with clear lettering. There may be minor imperfections (such as the lettering on the left Shift key almost reading “Shift”), but they are better than Keychron’s stock keycaps, and among the best, you can find on a pre-assembled keyboard.

Unlike Keychron’s keyboards, even its affordable models under $100, which come with both Mac and Windows keycaps, the Sense75 only ships with Windows keycaps. If you want the keyboard to have Command and Option keys instead of Alt and “Super” (Drop’s version of the Windows key), you can spend an additional $25 for the Mac keycaps addon. Changing the keyboard’s compatibility between Windows and Mac is done with a keyboard shortcut instead of a simple hardware toggle like Keychron’s keyboard. Unless you frequently switch between the two operating systems, it’s not a feature you will use often.

The Keychron Q1, a more affordable fully assembled keyboard, has an advantage over the Sense75 because it’s available with three different switch types. The Sense75 only has one switch option: Drop’s Holy Panda X switches. There’s no option for linear or clicky red or blue switches or less tactile browns. The barebones version of the keyboard is intended to allow users to pick their own switch. However, if you purchase the barebones version of the keyboard in black ($249) and a set of white-on-black DCX keycaps ($99), the cost is the same as the fully assembled model without any money left over for switches. It does not seem like a good deal.

If you were to purchase the barebones version of the Keychron Q1 and add the same Holy Panda X switches and Drop DCX keycaps that come standard with the Sense75, the cost would be around $365: $161 for the keyboard, $99 for the keycaps, and $105 for the switches. However, Drop is the only vendor of the Holy Panda X switches, which they sell for $1 each and only in packs of 35, which means you have to buy three packs to cover a 75 percent board. This is not user-friendly. The setup is similar to the Sense75, but it costs slightly more and also allows you to have a set of switches and keycaps that could be used for a future keyboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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