Link65 Review

my thoughts

keyboard by: Owlabs
Photos taken in House by alex

Intro

This review is going to be one of my more critical reviews, but I do want to start off with this: Owlabs continues to provide value for the dollar. Now, at $380 before shipping, it’s not a bare bones amount of money, but for the money you get a well-built, reasonably easy-to-assemble keyboard. I also applaud Owlabs for trying something different. This is a nice addition in a hobby that honestly feels quite stagnant. Let’s take a look at the Link65 and the three different configurations I built.

Disclaimer: Not only are there Amazon affiliate links in this article which helps support my content, Owlabs sent me this keyboard and generously allowed me to keep it after the build and review. As always, Owlabs did not see this review prior to publication and so did not have any say over the content of this review.

About The Link65

The biggest new item here is the PCB. It’s a flexible PCB that seems to promise an incredible and unique typing experience. It can even roll up! We also see the mounting system of the Spring being borrowed and put into this keyboard. This is also the first Owlab’s board in which I can say I really liked the overall design feel. It wasn’t too loud like their usual designs and felt more in like with the current trend of clean and logo-less boards. It was a refreshing thing to see.

The bottom of the Link65.

The Link65 paired with OTC Modo Light.

Another feature is an almost completely screwless build experience. With the exception of the daughterboard, their keyboard is only assembled via smart slots and it uses the feet to lock everything into place.

The bottom and trunk of the board of the board is stainless steel and adds to the value of your purchase in this case. And at $310 dollars to start ($380 all in for the plate and PCB), this board is a pretty good price for what you get in the package. Please remember to factor in shipping and taxes, and also consider your financial situation when making large purchases. I really have to hand it to Owlab’s for that, they always hit the nail on the head with value for your dollar.

However, there are some things I want to discuss about the keyboard itself.

Build Experience

The Link65 is a screw-less build. Despite that, I found the build experience to be a mixed bag. Part of the issue I have is because of that PCB. While the PCB has fun flexibility along with large flex cuts (held together with ribbon material), I didn’t see how it was worth the effort. You see, the large cuts and spaces made for the flexing ended up making the sound too thin for my taste. I figured I could remedy this with foam, but the only foam that made any difference was PE film. Nothing else helped. I also tried the tape-mod, but it didn’t add as much sound as I had expected. I would really like to see Owlabs offer a non-flex PCB option.

I do whole-heartedly applaud the team for doing something different in a hobby that feels stagnant with innovation. What is a little confusing about the introduction of the super flexy PCB is that this build includes a plate. When you include a plate much (if not all) of the flex goes away. The only flex encountered is strictly from the mounting system, not the PCB. Overall, the PCB is a really fun and innovative item, but I feel it just isn’t utilized well for this keyboard and is a miss on the Link65. 

Now, while I found some skill and dexterity was needed to finesse the stabilizers onto the PCB, the rest of the build was quite simple. To assemble the case, all you have to do is slip on the silicone legs on the plate, align it on the mounting system, close up the case and up the feet back on. These feet lock everything into place. It’s pretty neat.


The PCB of the Link65.

Tilt test.

Addressing the tilting issue: It is there, but under any normal circumstances you will not experience this. You need some incredible pressure and it needs to be off of a desk pad to get it to tilt backwards. This should be a non-issue for most people.

Conclusion

Despite any misgivings with this keyboard, I like Link65. For an enthusiast like myself, this keyboard calls out for tweaking. It’s super easy to disassemble which removes all the dread of having to reopen a keyboard for tweaking. I found the quality of the case to be great, but the stainless steel to be a pain to keep clean. That likely doesn’t really matter, but I did want to mention it.

Again, I want to reiterate how much I appreciate Owlabs for trying something when so many others don’t try anything new at all.

I’d like to reiterate that this keyboard is not priced as a typical impulse purchase. Please, like always, remember your finances and add up everything (including shipping) before purchasing. Second, if you were a fan of the Spring or are someone who enjoys a soft typing experience, then the Link65 is likely up your alley. However, if you really like the “clack” of a keyboard then I recommend skipping this one.

The LInk65, it’s PCB and a plate.