The Chosfox L75 is a low-profile 75% keyboard from Chosfox, which might be obvious from the name. It sells as either a “kit” or fully assembled. The difference between fully assembled and kit is mostly the installation of the stabilizers and insertion of switches and caps. There is no soldering involved at all in either option.
My summary of this board is “if you want a keychron, but choc”. I’ll talk about the assembly in a bit but the real question is if the board is even worth your time. With caveats, I’d say yes. If you’re in the market for a keychron-like choc board, and don’t need any fun firmware tweaks, the L75 is a perfectly fine board. And, perhaps more importantly, if you want a choc 75% keyboard with the row stagger layout of a “regular” keyboard, there aren’t many other options out there.
In general, the L75 is an extremely well designed keyboard. It comes with a nicely heavy aluminum case, rubber feet, battery, and stabilizers. The final quality is reminiscent of my beloved tofu65. The tofu65 is heavy enough to defend yourself from a zombie attack and while the L75 is not that heavy, it’s plenty heavy for a board this size, sitting at around 800g. It’s not going to slide around on your desk. On the inside, the battery is located in a dedicated compartment, held in place by double sided tape. The board is separated from the case by foam and is held in place without screws.
Keys and caps
The keys are MX spaced so there’s plenty of room for my fat fingers to type comfortably. The switch plate is 1.2mm aluminum, same as the rest of the case. Thanks to the battery, the L75 ends up with a three degree tilt (according to the vendor; I didn’t confirm locally.) The space bar is split in two, probably because it’s difficult to manufacturer keys that long and that thin and have them survive very long.
For keycaps, the only real choice, to my mind, is Chosfox’s own ChocFox Legends keycaps. I should really probably do a choc keycap review at some point but, suffice it to say, I adore ChosFox’s CFX keycaps. kbd.news did a first impressions post when they came out in July 2022 and I mostly agree with it. There are no sharp edges to these caps and the textures is very nice. Enough to not be slippery but still not grainy or abrasive. I type on CFX every day and love them. The legends add lettering to the caps via dye sublimation and they’re great to type on. The typography is nice and clear to read.
The CFX legends are the only choice for me because the L75 requires caps larger than 1U to do its thing. As you’d expect for a full size 75% keyboard, backspace, enter, left shift, and the space bars are large enough to need stabilizers. Key caps this size are still pretty rare in choc land.
Your other key cap option for this board is the MBK Legend set. I am not a fan of this set and I find them gritty and unpleasant to use, despite them having been my daily driver for months. But to each their own, no judgments :)
If you are going to get CFX caps while you’re ordering an L75, do yourself a favor, order some switches, and let them do the assembly. It’s only $10 at time of writing and ordering all the bits together will maybe help justify ChosFox’s rather batshit shipping costs.
Ok. On to assembly. I only have two real complaints here and they’re related. First, holy fuck choc stabilizers are fiddly as hell. I used the Keeb.io installation guide to figure it out and still fucked it up a couple times. I dislike MX stabilizers with a passion and making them even tinier did not make me feel better. Choc stabs are plate mounted, with no screws. The L75 case backs them up with metal columns from the case so they shouldn’t work loose but time will tell.
Second, holy fuck the bluetooth/wired button is fiddly as hell. it’s tiny and you’ve got to get it into its hole and slide it over the switch on the PCB while trying to close the case up. Took me a couple tries to get it right.
Otherwise, the assembly is pretty easy. I would caution folks to, well, be careful when inserting switches. There are a lot of traces on the front of PCB, often right around the hot swap sockets. If one of the switch pins gets out of whack and gouges the board, you might cut through a trace, ending the party.
The firmware is … well, this is where the keychron comparison popped in my head. The L75 runs a custom firmware from ChosFox. They claim it supports custom macros but the software to configure them is some windows executables sitting in a google drive. I will not be running random software of unknown provenance, particularly on Windows. Not that I have a Windows box right now, but still.
So as it sits here, caps lock is caps lock, and none of my other fun keyboard hacks are in place. The top row that could be function keys are instead, by default, media keys and brightness etc. There is an fn key on the top row that turns them into function keys but I’m not aware of a permanent toggle.
The L75 is RGB happy and has the same list of effects as a Keychron, with animations and color changing and explosions caused by every key press. RGB mode can be disabled and the preference seems to stick even after unplugging the keyboard.
Near as I can tell, the split space bar will always be two space bars. Maybe the sketchy windows apps can change this but I’m not aware of a way, out of the box, to customize them. I’d love to match my split keyboard layout of space and enter on my thumbs. More problematically, the split space bar is split down the center. If you hit the spacebar on, say, your laptop keyboard in the center of the bar, the L75 will drive you up a wall. I am constantly hitting the gap between the halves and am constantly reminding myself to bring my thumb in closer. I’m sure I’d get used to it if this were my only board, but right now, oof it’s annoying.
The L75 also has bluetooth functionality. I’ve had zero luck with this so far. I’ve been able to pair but the connection drops out after a minute or so and requires a full repairing when it comes up. I will try to charge the battery overnight to see if that resolves the issue. But as of right now, my L75 will stay wired.
In summary, I like the L75 a lot as far as row stagger boards go. I don’t plan to use it as my daily driver but I will certainly keep it around. If I ever decide that split keyboard life isn’t for me and I want to go back to unibody row stagger “normie” board, I’ll come back to the L75 first. But the custom firmware really kills this board as a driver for me. I like my weird layout, and I’d love to use it here. There are client side hacks I could employ but what’s the fun in that. Ultimately, I’d love to use ZMK on the L75 but I suspect that’s just a dream.
I should put a special mention in here for the cable that came with my L75. They sent me a very nice USB-C cable with screw-together connector and really well done metal ends. I was already impressed and then I plugged it in. The end of the cable contains color changing RGB elements. Totally pointless but pretty nonetheless. And excellent craftsmanship.