For the past month, I have been typing almost everywhere. In the narrow crannies between the seats of Ahmedabad buses, cars, parks, any place I can sit or even stand. Yes, everyone hates me. But it was worth it. Why? Because I was using Logitech’s universal keyboard.
I know, I know. It’s not even close to what we can call a new product. But the design. The design is what I am here to discuss. It’s not much of a review as it’s an epiphany and a wake up call for my keyboard preferences.
So, let’s talk about the keyboard I’ve been writing with for the past few weeks. It’s called the K480. Sounds like a codename for an undercover agent except what we have here is an underdog product which deserves a whole lot more attention. The Logitech K480 is a universal keyboard which means it is designed to natively work with every computing device you own. There is a range of function keys which can help you navigate without ever reaching out to the display or the mouse.
Why the K480?
Whether it’s an Android phone or an iPad or a Windows computer, the K480’s multitasking and utility shortcuts can get you where you need to be with just a couple of button clicks. More importantly, the keyboard has a cradle at the top where you can conveniently place your tablet or phone in either portrait or landscape position. You can even house two in vertical positions if you’re the person who prefers a dual-monitor setup.
Below that shallow channel, you’ll find a dial that ensures you don’t reach an affliction while switching devices. You can configure three of your gadgets with the keyboard and when you’d like to move for instance, from your phone to laptop, just nudge the dial to the assigned number. It functions surprisingly well and unlike other keyboards, doesn’t cause any delays while attempting to pair. It runs on AAA batteries which can be a deal-breaker for a lot of people but Logitech claims a battery life of two years. Obviously, there isn’t enough time for me to evaluate that claim. So, I’m fine with it.
To be frank, here, I’ve never been a fan of such portable keyboards. For one, in order to bring down the weight and thickness, companies tend to compromise the most critical aspect of an external keyboard — the typing experience. On top of that, I use the good old TVS Bharat keyboard at home. Therefore, my expectations from such accessories is a bit on the higher end. Second, they don’t consider the fact people who would invest in these devices won’t be always sitting at a desk. Third, they overlook the absence of a mouse here and hence, forget about including shortcut keys so that you don’t have to reach the screen every time you would like to switch an app or fire up a web search.
Hefty But Utilitarian
The Logitech K480 manages to fulfill all of these requirements at the cost of a few additional grams (821g) and inches. This is probably the only time I’ve been satisfied by the keys of a portable universal keyboard. This, in my opinion, is an ideal form factor for a 2017 keyboard unless you’re a gamer, of course. As I said earlier, I’m not here to review this thing but to highlight how much you are missing out by not buying this over those full-sized chunks of plastic that don’t even fit in your backpack.
Here’s how the K480 usually fits in my day-to-day — I’m typing at my desk on the K480 connected to a laptop which in turn is powering an external monitor. I need to leave for college. I throw the K480 and laptop in my backpack and leave without having to fiddle with any cords. In the bus or car, I pull out the K480, switch the dial to ‘2’, place my phone in the holder and begin where I left off ten minutes ago. I arrive at the college, reach my class, shift the K480’s dial back to ‘1’ and start doing what I do best, annoy everyone with loud keyboard noises. This is just one instance, I’ve begun to carry the K480 almost everywhere I go now.
Of course, the K480 is not perfect. There are a few glaring deficiencies it suffers from — like you can’t adjust the angle in any way and the build feels more cheap than premium. But it’s not really Logitech’s fault. The K480 has no competition. Most of other similar products are more ‘keyboard’ and ‘portable’ than ‘universal’. To put it in perspective, there are no other alternatives which come with a dedicated space for mounting your phone or dials for switching between devices.
A Right Step Towards What’s to Come
Your desk is slowly becoming irrelevant as the cloud continues to enable every one of your device for getting work done. And it’s time your keyboard evolves too for adapting to this lifestyle. The K480 is a three-year-old keyboard and yet, successfully manages to provide a glimpse into this future. I hope other manufacturers as well come up with similar products in the next year so that you don’t have to buy an outdated keyboard. And trust me, you really should.