updated 06:24 am EST, Fri February 22, 2013
Logitech delivers wireless backlit keyboard for Mac, iOS
The Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard for the Mac and iOS users, first revealed late last year, is now shipping. From a distance, the Logitech keyboard looked as though it was the Bluetooth keyboard that Mac users have been looking for with the addition of keybaord backlighting. While the Apple Wireless Keyboard is popular choice for Mac users, it does not have backlighting like its MacBook lineup. Not one to miss an opportunity in the world of peripherals, Logitech has finally developed a keyboard that fits that bill.
In addition to keyboard backlighting, the other key selling point of the device is its 'Easy-Switch' capability, where the each of the first three function keys can be used to pair to separate devices, relatively quickly and easily. For the most part, we found that the functionality works as advertised. Each device that we connected recognised the keyboard as a distinct device instantly. Once paired, with up to three discrete devices, users can then quickly pair with the device according to which of the three spaces that it has been assigned to. The only complaint that we have is that the pairing process, while simplified, can take a few seconds to pair, when we would like it to be as lag-free as possible.
We recently got our hands on the Logitech's other relatively new Wireless Solar Keyboard for Apple users and had fairly high hopes for the new Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard. Both keyboards feature aluminum in their design, which certainly helps them integrate nicely into any Apple users set up. However, that's where the similarities between the two begin and end. The newer keyboard uses completely different 'soft-touch' keys that are also somewhat smaller in size, catching us by surprise. We had expected them to similar to Wireless Solar Keyboard, which in turn are very similar in size and feel to Apple's keyboard keys.
Over the past few days using the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard, we did become more accustomed to the smaller key size, which are notable for their rounded off corners. However, we found that this resulted in a reduced target area for our fingers, which affected the quality and relative ease of our typing. That said, it will suit those who want a wider gap between keys. While we really appreciate the backlighting, we can't say we appreciate the choice Logitech has made, and in fact, wonder why they opted for this approach. The 'soft-touch' feel of the keys is quite nice, and it is certainly a less noisy typing experience that produced by the Wireless Solar Keyboard. However, overall it is not optimal, even though it does include some useful Mac-centric keyboard shortcuts.
The other key difference between the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard and its new Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard, is the pitch of the keyboard. The Wireless Solar Keyboard has an ergonomic elevation from front to back that makes typing more natural and comfortable - there is no such elevation in the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard. Flipping the keyboard over, we thought that there might be a couple of flip-out legs to raise the rear height of the keyboard, but as you can see from the pictures, we had no such luck. We found ourselves wanting to prop it up at the back with anything that we could find to raise its height.
Where the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard excels is its battery life and its ease of recharging. Included is a micro-USB cable that connects to the rear of the device, making it easy to recharge the keyboard on the go, while it also allows the backlighting to remain on. When off the charger, the battery saving sensors turn the lighting off when a user's hands move away from the keyboard for any length of time. The advantage of the Wireless Solar Keyboard is that it does not require any recharging at all, while the Apple Wireless Keyboard can be a nuisance, as it often requires its batteries to be replaced.
The Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard is also quite compact, even though it is full size. This comes in useful when tossing it in a backpack, and it also helps to take up the minimum of desk space. However, this also comes at a downside. The aluminum edges of the keyboard are where our hands wanted to rest. Unless we lifted our hand above the keyboard, it was not the most comfortable typing experience. If Logitech had made the edges rounded off, this might have been much more preferable. It is however, yet another caveat to consider before you decide to pick up on of these keyboards.
We really wanted to like the Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard, but overall, we found that it has some shortcomings that makes it hard to recommend without reservation. We certainly prefer the Logitech Wireless Solar keyboard by comparison. The newer keyboard has a smart appearance, and its keyboard illumination also looks great. Practically, functionally though, it is somewhat short of being ideal. The $100 asking price is not exactly cheap either. However, if you really want or need keyboard backlighting, there is nothing else on the market that we are aware of that will fit the bill.
By Sanjiv Sathiah