The “Retro Classic” from Azio is an exceptional keyboard that stands out not only visually, but also in terms of its features. In a classic typewriter design, it is primarily intended to appeal to friends of classic appliances and retro fans. After the presentation of the device, it received some media attention – the model should also be a real success in sales.
Therefore, we did not take it upon ourselves to take a closer look at the Retro Classic BT. What can the keyboard really do? Is the design really as true to the original and convincing as it seems? Is the device even suitable for practical use? You can read our experiences with the Retro Classic BT from Azio in the following test report.
Design and Workmanship
Once unpacked, the keyboard shines in all its glory. At close range, the Retro Classic looks just as true to the original and genuine as it does on the many press photos, which alternate between astonishment and enthusiasm. The fact that the manufacturer actually uses walnut wood or leather and implements the classic key design of conventional typewriters underlines the claim to want to reproduce a typewriter keyboard true to the original.
Those who have already typed on typewriters will be impressed by the look of the keyboard. Optically everything is really coherent. Please note that Azio offers the keyboard in four different colors. We have tested the color variant “Onyx”. In addition to this, there are three others available which sometimes differ considerably and lead to a different overall impression. Thus, the wooden version appears more rustic than the rather noble leather versions of the keyboard.
The different versions:
Overall, however, it can already be stated here that the design is the decisive argument for the purchase of the Azio Retro Classic. The manufacturer proves consistent work and does not break the style either intentionally or unintentionally – only the possibility of backlighting appears minimally inappropriate. We are therefore very satisfied with the appearance of the keyboard.
Also the workmanship does not allow any criticism. The materials used are all of very high quality. Depending on the version, walnut wood or leather is used. Not only does the keyboard look good, it also feels good. If the keyboard is turned upside down, however, the user must realize that it cannot do without plastic – the entire floor is made of plastic. However, since this is also well processed, we cannot derive any criticism from this. Furthermore, there are rubber feet on the underside which provide the necessary support for the device.
Keys and Usage
The keys are round to match the classic design, which may initially create an unfamiliar operating feeling. However, this is of secondary importance in view of the extremely appealing design achieved by this very key shape.
The Kailh-Typelit-switches are located under the keycaps and provide acoustic as well as haptic feedback, which is pleasantly noticeable when typing on the keyboard. The switches trip relatively early – at about 1.6 millimeters – and require a tripping force of 50 to 60 grams.
The rather clear feedback provided by the switches reinforces the impression of typing on a real typewriter and is therefore rated positively by us. The tight arrangement of the keys makes targeted typing difficult at first, but also serves the design. After a short period of getting used to the new system there will be no more problems.
The keys are equipped with a white backlight, which can be adjusted in nine stages if necessary. This backlight is controlled via the FN key – more on this in the next section.
Software or Settings
Another special feature of the Retro Classic from Azio is the complete absence of any software. While most modern keyboards can now be adapted using software, the Retro Classic can only be adapted using various setting keys.
Since macro and multimedia keys are completely missing, the settings must be made using the double-assigned F keys. For example, the backlight can be controlled using the FN key. Here the user has the choice between full lighting, breathing mode and reactive lighting, in which the keys only light up briefly after a press. Furthermore, the brightness can be regulated in nine steps.
Individual commands can also be triggered via the F keys. For example, it is possible to adjust the volume or lock the Windows key to prevent unwanted access to the desktop.
Overall, the absence of software in the test is more positive than negative. Basic settings can be made via the keyboard. Unnecessary extras are eliminated. This makes it possible to make settings quickly and easily, which is not the case with many other keyboards. In addition, the claim to offer a basic model that is not overloaded with extras that are hardly needed in practice is underlined. The focus of the Retro Classic is clearly on design, not technical gimmicks. Thus, despite the integrated modern functions, it is a rather classic input device, which is rated positively by us.
Those who do not want to do without numerous extras, numerous possibilities of influencing and detailed information in a software, should refrain from buying the Retro Classic, which does not meet this requirement. Friends of an easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing, by no means overloaded and yet modern keyboard, on the other hand, should have access to it.
Wireless or Wired to PC or Mac
The Azio Retro Classic is available as a wired USB version as well as an upgraded Retro Classic BT. These are the ones we tested.
With the Retro Classic BT you can switch between USB and Bluetooth as well as between PC and Mac. To make this possible, a 6,000 mAh battery is installed. This lasts loosely more than a month – without lighting even longer. The automatic switch-off, which occurs after 5 minutes of inactivity, also contributes to this. Pressing a key will reactivate the keyboard.
The battery is charged via the USB-C port. On the positive side, the battery can also be easily removed and replaced if it does not function properly after many years.
Conclusion of the Azio Retro Classic BT Review
Azio succeeds in arousing the feeling of a real typewriter keyboard – not only visually, but also haptically. The design of the Retro Classic is excellently implemented and is ideally complemented by the wonderful haptic and acoustic feedback of the built-in switches. The fact that many extras are not used is positive as it is beneficial to the overall picture. Nevertheless, users do not have to forego the possibilities they are accustomed to from other keyboards. Furthermore the Retro Classic is very easy to use due to the lack of software and the simple control via F-keys.
However, all these factors require a certain amount of time to get used to the keyboard – at first, the keyboard seems unfamiliar and may not operate correctly. In the test, however, this circumstance has subsided after a short time as if by itself.
The only real point of criticism is the rather high price. It goes without saying that this is a flawlessly crafted keyboard with high-quality materials, a unique design and the best functionality. Ultimately, the device is primarily interesting for friends of the special.