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November 22, 2016

OBINS Anne PRO RGB Wireless Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard Review



If you're a big fan of minimalist keyboards, this is definitely something you don't want to miss out. We've managed to get our hands on the OBINS Anne PRO RGB Wireless Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard, a rather new 60% keyboard that has recently made its appearance in the Malaysian local mechanical keyboard community.

Special thanks to Store Uni for the provision of the OBINS Anne PRO for today's review, and with no further adieu, let's see how does it stand against the Vortex Poker, Filco Minila, Ducky Mini, etc that most of us are familiar with!

(The OBINS Anne PRO retails at RM300)


Specifications

Model
OBINS Anne PRO
Total Keys
61
Switch
Gateron Mechanical Switch
Color
Black / White
USB Support
Yes
Bluetooth
Bluetooth 4.0
App Support
iOS / Android
Firmware Update
Yes
Main MCU
STM32L151
LED MCU
STM32L151
Hardware De-jitter Support
Yes
Response Time
1ms
LED Effect
RGB 16 million colors
Accessories
Bluetooth receiver, USB cable, keycap puller

Packaging

The Anne PRO ships in an overly simple and minimalist package where the front of the box comes only with a big label of the product name, 60% Anne Mechanical Keyboard. Well.... along with a sticker on the top right.


The back of the box is rather unique we'd say. It appears that Obins has the intention of wanting the users to keep the box instead of throwing it away, as the QR code for soft copy of the user's guide, link to App download and the list of the combination of function keys layout for reference purpose are all printed on the back of the box.

Box Content

The only accessories you'll get are the flat USB mini cable for wired connection, USB Bluetooth receiver for wireless connection, and a plastic ring-type keycap puller. 


The Anne PRO is available in black and white chassis with 3 different choices of Gateron  Red, Brown and Blue switches to choose from.


According to Obins, they don't plan to keep their product plain and boring like some other brands, as there are users who would like to customize the appearance of their keyboard cases. There are currently 4 different colors of cases which can be purchased separately for RM39 each.

The Anne PRO

The Anne PRO features a 60% layout design just like the Poker from Vortex, specially designed for the advanced enthusiasts who prefer something which is even smaller than a tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard. 


Some might wonder, why the heck would someone even get rid of the useful Numpad, arrow keys and the 12 function keys just for the sake of compactness and portability? Well, we'd say it's a personal preference, but according to some of the advanced users, 60% layout allows you to perform tasks more efficiently with minimal movement, as well as some extra desk space which you will appreciate over time.


From the side, we can see that the chassis of the Anne PRO has a higher profile that gives it a slightly steeper angle compared to most mainstream designs.


On the top left corner of the chassis, you'll find the micro-USB connector for wired connection. The indented section near the port isn't as deep as the one on the Poker 3. We tested 3 of our own micro USB cables and they seem to fit without any issue.


Other than the commonly seen Kailh and Outemu switches, the Gateron switch used on the Anne PRO are one of (many) Cherry MX alternatives that are widely endorsed by mechanical keyboard communities, with claims of some variant being better than the original Cherry MX itself.


Key caps wise, the Anne PRO comes with the now commonly seen double shot caps used on most Chinese branded mechanical keyboards, which promises better longevity compared to the traditional painted translucent keycaps. 


As for the stabilizers, the Anne PRO are using the Cherry stabilizers which is easier to remove compared to Costar metal wire stabilizer. 


The case design positions the keyboard height to be somewhere in between a keyboard with and without its keyboard feet being raised. You won't find any adjustable keyboard feet at the bottom, only rubber grips that ensure the keyboard to stay in place while on a desk. 

There's a little hole near to the right of the case, which you can poke with a pin to reset the keyboard to its factory settings.


To remove the PCB from the case for customization, you will have to remove 5 pieces of screws which can be accessed with the keycaps removed. 


At the bottom of the PCB, we can see that OBINS has really kept the QC done well. The solder work is very, very clean, with no excessive flux nor cold solder joint to be found. Located directly under the space bar are 2 pieces of ARM Cortex M3-based STM32L151 microcontroller that handle the LED and keyboard functionality respectively.


A 1000mAh Lithium-ion battery is attached to the keyboard to supply enough power for wireless operation of up to 3 hours with the LED on, and standby time of up to 30 hours.



On the left side of the PCB, we found a Texas Instruments CC2541 2.4-GHz Bluetooth SoC for wireless operation that supports radius range of up to 10 meters. 

RGB LED Modes Preview


User Experience



Key rollover test wise, we're able to hold down each and every key with no signs of signal blocking and ghosting effect on both wired and Bluetooth wireless mode without any issue. We strongly recommend cable connection just in case if you're really using it for PC gaming due to the noticeable input delay on wireless mode, especially with rapid tapping that could potentially affect your overall performance.



To use it on your smartphones, tablets, etc, you will first have to enable the Bluetooth mode using FN + B. Scan for the keyboard in your Bluetooth menu and enter the code as stated on the keyboard for the pairing to work.



The Anne PRO can be controlled via the Obins peripheral App once the Bluetooth pairing is successful. We have no problem in exploring the simple and straight forward user interface and things can be done easily within minutes.




The 4 function of the Obins peripherals App consists of the LED lighting controls, layout selection, macro keys management and settings. While the App does allow direct customization on the keyboard LED modes, layout selection, and macro keys management, the App is still at its early stage, as we can see some unusable features labeled with 'coming soon...' and we could perhaps see a better revision with more features added in the coming future.

Final Thoughts
Users who heavily relies on the ditched keys i.e arrow keys, Numpad, function key rows will find the Anne PRO's 60% layout unpleasant. Still, this doesn't actually make a 60% keyboard bad and in fact, like most of the 60% keyboard out there, OBINS Anne PRO are made specifically for the niche group of advanced enthusiasts who appreciates the minimal footprint and conserve desk space.  

Other than its small footprint, the OBINS Anne PRO features Bluetooth wireless operation support, double shot keycaps, RGB LED lighting which is usually found on expensive RGB mechanical gaming keyboards. At RM300, we'd say that the OBINS Anne PRO is quite a steal, really.

If you're one of the advanced enthusiasts mentioned, we're pretty sure that most of you will find the OBINS Anne PRO a pretty reasonable alternative, or perhaps more, for an HHKB or a Poker that will cost around twice or more. 

Pros
  • Solid build quality
  • Doubleshot keycaps
  • Decent LED modes
  • Support Bluetooth pairing with up to 4 devices
  • Customizable via dedicated App
  • Built-in 1000mAh Lithium-ion battery for wireless operation
  • Full key rollover (NKRO)
  • Very reasonable price 
Cons
  • Very limited LED modes
  • Intensity of the LED seems a little lacking 
  • Noticeable input delays on Bluetooth mode

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