Logitech K400r Wireless Touch Keyboard Review

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When I first looked up the K400 wireless keyboard, I wasn’t sure what to think. It is smaller than a full size keyboard, with a large touch pad on the right side. It is not as small as some other mini-wireless keyboards. Though it seems that the MSRP is around $65, searching online I generally found the keyboard sold for around $40. I have always disliked devices combine the functions of two devices that have been kept separate for what are often good reasons. Then, I took it out of the box, and realized that I had it wrong — this wasn’t a device that didn’t fit into any class, it was a device that was in a class of its own.

The Unboxing

k400 keyboard packagingThe Logitech K400r is relatively small keyboard compared to a full size one. It comes in a box just big enough to hold it, with two batteries already installed, a receiver, and a USB port extender. There’s no driver CD, and no manual. I wasn’t looking forward to having to mess with the drivers and running six different Logitech utilities to make all the media buttons work. I was pleasantly surprised, but for now, I’m going to talk about the hardware.

 

Construction

There were two things I noticed as soon as I took the keyboard out of the plastic bag. First, it is light. Despite the fact that the keyboard isn’t particularly small, the materials Logitech chose to construct the keyboard out of make it feel solid and well balanced. The second thing I noticed was that it wasn’t glossy. With so many manufacturers making everything shiny these days, it was a relief to see the matte textured surface of the keyboard. The keyboard also feels a lot more substantial than I expected just looking at it. Despite being light, the keyboard has relatively little give, and all the seams match up. The printing on the keys is crisp and clear. Although the pictures I had seen made the pattern on the track pad look rather tacky,it looks much better in actuality.k400 contents

The Keyboard

Logitech has been making peripherals for years, and their expertise clearly shows in the keyboard. Despite being very compact, the key caps are spaced out enough that it’s easy to type on without accidentally hitting other keys. The keys are comfortably textured, well laid out, and especially for such a small device, have good tactile feedback and a significant amount of travel.

One thing that I personally don’t care for about the keyboard is that instead of having the function row, and then multimedia and special function keys, you need to use the “fn” button to access f1 through f12. This means accessing help (f1), renaming files (f2), refreshing the browser (f5), and other actions accessed through the standard function keys can be awkward to use. Considering that the primary use of this keyboard will probably be for controlling media, this isn’t really a big deal. Really, the layout is excellent, and I feel that Logitech did a great job finding a happy medium between compact and spacious.

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The Touchpad

k400 touch padA major feature of this wireless keyboard is the integrated touchpad. Lately, I’ve noticed manufacturers doing all kinds of things to make their touch pads unique. Some are shiny, some you can click the whole bottom half, some have weird textures that look cool, but feel weird. The touchpad on the k400 is your run-of-the-mill lightly textured pad, and I love it for being just that. There is just enough texture that your finger doesn’t stick, and not too much that it scrapes. Logitech has included a slightly larger left click button under the pad, and an alternative left click just above the escape key on the top left corner. It seems that they figure you can use the keyboard almost like a sort of oversized game pad. Using the keyboard like that is actually a lot more comfortable than it sounds. It is also a multi-touch pad that supports tap-to-click, two-finger-right-click, and two-finger vertical and horizontal scrolling. My only complaint is that the left mouse button has a slightly softer click and is distinctly less tactile than the right mouse button.

Software and Drivers

As I mentioned earlier, the keyboard didn’t come with drivers, and I love how Logitech handled this. Instead of requiring special software, all the logic is done on the keyboard. The result is that you just plug it in, and it works. Even the special buttons like the “Lock” button send the generic key combinations instead of relying on a special key code. For example, the aforementioned “Lock” button actually sends “Meta+L”. I tested the keyboard with different computers and operating systems, and was impressed at how seamlessly everything worked. It may be designed for Windows 8, but if you’ve got a Mac you want to use it with, or you run a Linux-based media center PC, you can rest assured this keyboard will work perfectly. The only thing to be aware of is that because several of the buttons send the meta-key shortcuts for Windows, on a Mac it sends the Command key, sometimes resulting in unintended keyboard shortcuts being executed in applications. Otherwise, everything works exactly as expected, including the media control keys, volume, and so on. It also makes it incredibly easy to change what the keys do if you want to, and you don’t have to run a single extra piece of software to get the most out of the device. In my opinion, it’s a brilliant idea, and this is one of the few devices I know of that provide special functionality and really do “just work”.

Conclusion

For a keyboard I was ready to hate, testing the Logitech k400 turned out to be a very pleasant experience. Solidly made, no hassle to set up, and more comfortable to type on than expected, this little device was really a surprise. What’s most important for a device like this is whether I would recommend it to someone. Sure, it has a somewhat limited set of use cases, but the bottom line is that if you like the idea of a wireless keyboard-touchpad combo, for the price, you really can’t go wrong with this device. I give this lovable Frankenstein’s Monster 8.5 keys out of 10.

Purchase

The Logitech K400r is available via Amazon for $33.00 here Logitech K400r.

Additional Images

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