I tried a wild $800 keyboard & now I can never look back

AM AFA R2 on a desk in a grey backgroundDexerto

I have been using Angry Miao’s AFA R2 keyboard for several weeks, and given its Anime-inspired styles and top-notch build quality, I don’t think I can ever look back and use a traditional keyboard again.

Getting yourself a keyboard can be complicated. Should you go wireless, should you go optical? What switches should you use? Which form factor should you pick? While these are all questions that have floated around in my head, one of the perks of writing about tech is that you get to try out almost everything and everything.

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Enter Angry Miao’s AFA R2 keyboard, which sports a split Alice layout, in addition to an all-metal chassis, with built-in wireless charging, Bluetooth, and ergonomic design. The board also sports a three-stage adjustable leaf spring, which essentially acts like a suspension system for your keyboard’s plate.

This version of the board is also easy to disassemble, meaning that any maintenance and tuning is all complete in a matter of minutes, with the single screwdriver included in the kit. I’ve used one for just over two weeks, and I don’t think that I can switch to a different keyboard again.

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It looks absolutely gorgeous

AM AFA R2 in boxDexerto

When I first saw the VF-19 colorway of the Angry Miao AFA R2, I was immediately in love. You can also pick up the board in different anime and gaming-inspired colorways. Some of them include Demon Slayer, Zelda, Evangelion and more. But, one thing I did not expect, was how the keyboard is packaged up for shipping.

The AFA R2 comes in a solid plastic box, with latches to open it up. Honestly, when opening it all up for the first time, it felt like seeing what was inside of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. The final product is absolutely gorgeous, especially in the VF-19 colorway we received it in.

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Inside the box was also a pair of unique wrist rests, in addition to a huge number of accessories, including various different plate foam options and a screwdriver to disassemble to board, too. You can customize the board for yourself, in almost every aspect.

Since the board that we were sent was a full kit, the board was already pre-assembled for us, and all we needed to do was connect it via USB or Bluetooth.

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It takes a while to get used to

Since I was previously typing on a normal old Keychron Q1, it took a little while to get accustomed to the Angry Miao AFA R2’s Alice layout. Keys are in different places, you get two space bars, and you have to adjust your typing posture while using the board. The first few days of using it were hell. As an ardent user of the right-shift key, my usual muscle memory led me to press the up key instead, which was infuriating.

But, keen to continue using the board, I gradually adjusted over the course of two weeks. The Alice layout means that my wrists are slightly more comfortable than they would be on a traditional 75% board, especially due to the slightly tented design offered by the AM AFA R2. A module in the device’s center shows what connectivity mode you are using, in addition to caps lock. It also means that each of your palms is spread out, meaning that your hands are in a much more neutral position than they otherwise would be in a traditional layout.

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AM AFA R2 profileDexerto

As someone who suffers from regular wrist pain from the amount of time I spend typing on a keyboard every day, after several weeks, my wrist pain was diminished, as the AM AFA R2 forced me to switch to a healthier posture while typing.

Floating wrist rests

AM AFA R2 wrist restDexerto

Also included in the box were a pair of Angry Miao’s magnetic wrist rests, which are intended to sit underneath your arms as you type. Equipped with mouse-like feet, they glide along with your wrist, so you never feel too uncomfortable while typing. But, your mileage may vary. Somehow, getting used to the wrist rest was more difficult than typing on the Alice layout keyboard itself. I ended up ditching it and not using any wrist rest at all.

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An unparalleled typing experience

AM AFA R2 keycapsDexerto

At Dexerto Towers, we often get through dozens of keyboards a year, trying and testing everything from the latest releases to the latest technology. While we can commend companies like Higround and Asus for creating fantastic keyboards, which are genuinely a cut above the rest of the pack, using the Angry Miao AFA R2 was eye-opening.

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The custom keyboard rabbit hole runs deep and gets expensive quickly. As I tried out bigger and better boards, I really considered if an investment of around $200 was really worth it for end users. But, the AM AFA R2 convinced me otherwise. Equipped with scratch-free Icy White switches and equally good stabilizers, the typing experience is the best I have ever used. Considering that the version of the keyboard I tested will run you around $800, it’s a good thing, too.

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Get in gear

Removing some of the elements of the AM AFA R2 will give you access to the leaf spring mounting mechanism, which will come in several “Gears”, between one to three. Changing these around essentially switches up how much the plate will be depressed into the case as you type on it. We found the loosest setting to be a touch too bouncy, so reverted back to the middle option, which offers a stable, yet light touch. But, the mounting alone does not make the keyboard excellent to type on. It’s the way that the board manages to bring so many different elements together.

Elements such as the plate foam, in addition to the leaf-spring mount, meaning that it just feels like typing on a cloud. As someone who is used to typing all day, every day, it’s quickly become my go-to keyboard, after a week or so of various adjustments.

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Transparent keycaps can get grimy

The transparent keycaps that the board comes equipped with look utterly fantastic, as the switches also complement their shine-through nature. However, having used it for weeks now, the keycaps can get prone to looking pretty grimy, meaning that I would have preferred a different design here. Considering how expensive quality keycap sets can get, this is a touch disappointing, but if aesthetics is all you are after, then the AM AFA R2 is not going to disappoint.

Is the AM AFA R2 really worth $800?

AngryMiao AFA R2 on a deskDexerto

If you have $800 burning a hole in your pocket, then Angry Miao’s AM AFA R2 is an obvious purchase. But, it’s a very, very expensive keyboard. However, what it offers is best-in-class across almost every aspect. While using the board wirelessly, we experienced little to no issues thanks to its large 10000mAh battery, too.

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Just remember that picking one of these up means that it’ll be an investment, not only in your setup but in the ergonomics of how you use your PC. Everything from the box it comes in, the keyboard’s CNC-built chassis, its switches, and the typing experience are absolutely unparalleled. There’s nothing else quite like it out there.

While you can get cheaper mechanical keyboards in this layout, it’s not really the point. The AM AFA R2 represents the absolute apex of mechanical keyboard design. After having used it for weeks, I shudder at the thought of using any other keyboard.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely not for everyone, this is like owning a supercar. It’s absolutely not going to be for everyone, and it comes at a prohibitively expensive cost. But, what it represents is the summit that so many boutique keyboard manufacturers wish to reach.

You can check out the AM AFA R2 at Angry Miao’s website.

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