A Resident Living Room Keyboard – Logitech K480
The Logitech K480 keyboard wants to move into your place, kick back, grab a beer and lie in wait for the moment you want to do some typing on your phone or tablet. Let’s review this new multi-device bluetooth keyboard.
- Some design issues – creaking case and easily detachable battery cover
The decision on whether to buy the K480 boils down to a simple question. Do you use a mobile device for extended typing at home? If yes, then the K480 provides a practical solution which allows you to pop your device in the slot, it will wirelessly pair with the device and you can type on a full size keyboard. If you want a mobile keyboard there are other lighter weight, more practical keyboards for that.
When it comes to external keyboards for tablets they pretty much fall into three camps,
- Physically separate keyboard like the K480’s predecessor, the K380
- Keyboard case so your keyboard is always attached to the tablet
Detachable keyboard cases like the Qode Ultimate Pro from Belkin
Does the Logitech K480 pigeonhole nicely into any of these categories…..nope. The K480 occupies a completely different niche. For all of the above, lightweight and portable is a necessity as the keyboard, like the tablet, was intended to be mobile.
Although it would be possible to take the K480 out and about I see the K480 as more intended to take up residence in your home and stay there. Let’s conjure up a scenario to illustrate. Take for example when you want to type a blog post on your iPad while hanging out in your lounge with a nearly finished beer at your side. Note, this scenario is purely fictional and any resemblance to productivity bloggers living or dead is purely coincidental. For such situations, this is where you need to call upon the assistance of the K480. You drop the phone or tablet into the slot, it wirelessly pairs with your device and you can then type in relative comfort with a decent sized keyboard.
So, that’s the background to this bluetooth keyboard. Let’s get on now and talk some design and functionality details.
The design of the K480 certainly favours functionality over form. Although not elegant, the design is eminently practical. The main example of this is the slit running across the top of the keyboard whose sole purpose is to hold tablets and mobile phones. This solves a common problem with separate, external keyboards that one is left to somehow prop up the tablet or lay the device flat and tolerate a less than ideal viewing angle. So, in my mind, a great idea and certainly resolves a shortcoming in it’s predecessor, the K380. The width of the slot is 13mm and in practice I have found my iPad Air and gel casing to fit comfortably . You may want to check the width of your devices though to ensure this width is sufficient. The only downside to this slit is that the viewing angle is fixed but I think that is an acceptable compromise. One other point to mention is that the interior of the slit is lined with a rubbery plastic. So, one need not fear that the keyboard case will scratch your phone or tablet.It is inevitable that the K480 will be tossed around a little as it is moved around it’s natural habitat. As I have handled the K480 in the last weeks I have noticed one weakness. The battery cover on the back of the device seems to have but a passing acquaintance with the case. The slightest brush against the cover provides it with sufficient justification to detach itself and embrace its new found freedom, independent of the casing. This is a bit of a nuisance so I consciously have to avoid handling that area of the case.
Logitech K480 Hardware
In addition to the standard keys the K480 comes replete with a set of multi-media/quick access keys along to the top. The one that I get most use out of is the Home button – for switching between apps on the iPad. These keys, along with keyboard shortcuts available with most apps, really enable much more productive use of tablets for extensive text entry.
Another key feature of the K480 is the ability to pair with up to three devices and to switch between them using the rotary switch on the left of the keyboard. In my experience this works pretty well so you can pair a tablet, a mobile phone and still have another option open. Bluetooth pairing is possible with Android(version 3.2 and above) and IOS (IOS 5 and above) devices using the Bluetooth connect buttons to the right of the keyboard. PC and Mac are also supported if you really wanted one keyboard to rule them all.
The construction is all plastic but I think some additional weight has been added on purpose for stability purposes. The 820 grams is reassuringly heavy and there is no concern that a tablet perched on the top of the keyboard will topple it over – at least not with my iPad Air. In keeping with the ample mass of the K480, it’s dimensions are also somewhat rotund. It comes in at a less than svelte 195 mm (Height) x 299 mm (Width) x 20 mm (Depth).
The weight and size specifications may give the impression that we are dealing with a rather sturdy beast but I see that the build quality offsets that. It’s all plastic construction tends to creak a bit when flexed slightly.
Battery wise, although the K480 is prone to flashing it’s batteries frequently and unnecessarily as mentioned in the Design section, one need not change them out due to the generous 2 year battery life.
Currently, the price of the K480 is $38.99 on Amazon.com and 39.99 pounds on Amazon.co.uk. If that pricing looks unusual, that’s because it is with an exchange rate of 1.27 dollars to the pound. Clearly, a much more attractive purchase on the American site.
Logitech have cleverly provided a great solution to a common problem in the form of the K480 multi-device keyboard
People use tablets and mobile phones more and more as a primary computer and some instances of that use will involve more extensive text entry for which a keyboard is more practical than stabbing at a little screen. Providing an external keyboard either as a keyboard case of external keyboard brings additional problems in the form of additional weight and support of the tablet/keyboard. Since this scenario will often play out at home, Logitech have cleverly provided a great solution to a common problem in the form of the K480 multi-device keyboard. It provides a good stable base for typing, an in-built support for your device and support for multiple mobile devices. Design compromises have not been made in order to make it mobile and I am cool with that. So, if the problem that I have described is familiar to you, then the Logitech K480 is certainly worth a look. I am happy with my purchase and would recommend it.