Monday, August 19, 2013

It's On Amazon: Logitech K400 Wireless Touch Keyboard

Being an inveterate mechanical keyboard user - OK, snob - made me postpone this review for several weeks.  I haven't returned to membrane keyboards since I upgraded to a Unicomp buckling spring 'board in college.  One of the first things I invariably I do when settling into a workspace is swap out the stock-standard membrane keyboard with a mechanical - either a Cherry MX red or Topre capacitive.  So how did it come to pass that the current mechanical keyboard on my desk - a Leopold 660C - has come to play second fiddle to a Logitech membrane keyboard that you can find on Amazon for less than $30?

It began when I was shopping for a good HTPC keyboard for my dad and ended up choosing the Logitech K400 for its integrated touchpad and a strong aggregate of reviews on Amazon.  He loves using it, and I was surprised at how comfortable the membrane keys were to type on.  The best description I can give for the tactility is that it is a cross between traditional membrane keyboards and scissor-switch laptop-style keys.  It requires a little more force on average thanTopre capacitive switches, but the shallower key travel seems to make up for it.  Response is of course less accurate, but good enough that I only find myself compelled to switch back to the 660C when typing for extended periods.

I switched to the K400 as my primary keyboard mainly because my current desk setup sometimes requires that clear the space on my desk where I usually keep my keyboard.  I tried using the 660C there with a Filco keyboard roof, but I need the flexibility on occasion to clear out the space and pull my Cintiq up to the edge of the desk space when I'm working on an illustration.  Also, since I've switched my desk chair from an Embody to a Swopper, I occasionally like to use the Swopper as an improvised footrest and recline back in the Embody, especially when watching videos for extended periods on my landscape aspect 24" monitor.  Having an HTPC-style wireless keyboard with a built-in touchpad allows me to continue to control my computer even in a more laid back configuration.  The K400 excels in this usage.

The touchpad feels like it's on a little on the small side - especially for my setup, where it has to traverse 5 screens worth of real estate - but given the keyboard's goal of portability and top-of-the-lap use, I think it strikes the proper compromise.  The odd design decision to include another physical button for the left mouse click button in the top left corner is actually a useful quirk when you need to make multiple mouse clicks in quick succession.  And the function keys are smart enough to default back to F1 through F12 when depressed in combination with modifiers like SHIFT and CTRL, so that you don't have to add the FN key to the mix.

For a $30 wireless keyboard, it's hard to top the Logitech K400.  I'll probably default back to one of my mechanical 'boards when in hardcore novel-writing mode, but for lighter takes (such as writing this post), the K400 is a fantastic and economical option.

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