Wireless keyboard have been around for years. For desktop computers, I’ve honestly never seen much of a point other than to clean up the look of your desk. Moving from a wired mouse to a wireless mouse is a big switch – no more cords to get in your way as you move the mouse around your desk. Keyboards are usually stationary, so it’s much less of an issue.
Once the TV became the center of our media universe, wireless HTPC keyboards became much more important. Nobody wanted that unsightly cord stretching over their living room carpet – not to mention the two or three extenders it would take to reach the computer. Still you would often need both a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse in order to have complete functionality. What we needed was a slim, stylish device that incorporated both a keyboard and a touchpad. One device to rule them all.
Logitech has been making keyboards for decades. In my former life as a retail associate at Circuit City, I would tell my customers that there were really only two options for keyboards: Logitech and Microsoft. There were, of course, other brands, but not with the sheer volume of options that these two provided. Personally, I’ve always preferred Logitech. I am a touch-typist, so the keys need to have a satisfying feel to them – not too light, and not too clunky. The Logitech K400 is a light departure from most Logitech keyboards. It tries to evoke a style, similar to designs from Apple or Google, rather than give a nod to its desktop heritage.
To illustrate what I mean, think of the keyboard to a Macbook, Chromebook or Surface tablet. All are slightly different, but there is very similar aspect to them: the individual keys are more two-dimensional that a normal keyboard. They are fairly flat, with no ergonomic curve to them. Pressing the keys requires very little energy. On the flip side, though, it offers very little tactile feedback. The keys simply go down and up with hardly a sound. Perfect for making subtle adjustments during a movie, but not all that good for typing out a long Word document. The K400’s feel is very similar. If you’re used to a tablet or ultralight notebook, you’ll be comfortable with the Logitech K400.
K400 vs. K400R: What’s the difference?
A quick note is necessary. What’s the difference between the K400 and the K400R? They look identical and for good reason. According to Logitech support, the K400R includes Windows 8 compatibility out of the box, whereas the K400 needs a software update to run. That’s it. So for our purposes here, whichever you can find in the color you want is the one you should go with.
How Did It Get So Small?
The keyboard is slightly smaller than the full size desktop keyboard you’re used to. Logitech accomplishes this by trimming as much of the empty space in a keyboard as possible. Gone is the numeric keypad – replaced by the touchpad. The function keys are placed directly above the number row with no space in between. The individual letter and number keys are the same size (around 5.5mm square), although missing the extra space involved with making the keys more 3-dimensional.
Where you’ll notice the biggest difference is in the remaining keys. The Enter, Shift, Ctrl and Caps Lock keys are anywhere from one-third to one-half the size of their counterparts on a full-size keyboard. Additionally, the arrow keys are moved directly into the bottom row, and the upper arrow next to the smaller, “single key-sized” right Shift key. While this may not sound like a big deal, it caused me (fairly often) to hit the Up Arrow when I was trying to hit “Shift”.
The Logitech K400 wireless keyboard is remarkably well designed for the living room. No surprise really since Logitech has been making living room accessories like their Harmony remote controls for years. One cool feature of the keyboard is that it can be stored vertically due to its flat back edge. This is a nice bullet point in the “Features” section of the specs, but I think it would have been better in practice if the keyboard was able to stand vertically, allowing it to take up less space.
The keyboard operated with the Logitech Unifying Receiver which allows you to use one USB receiver to control many different devices. This is especially good for those of us with Android mini PCs or streaming TV boxes, since USB ports are at a premium. Range of the unit is listed at 33 feet from its receiver. The size of my room would (unfortunately) not allow me to test that far away, but I was able to take the keyboard 20″ away and still had full control of the device.
Two AA batteries are used to power the unit and provide excellent battery life. They advertise a full year for the life of the batteries, and I can honestly confirm those expectations. Normally I’m used to 2-3 months of battery life on my wireless mice so this was a pleasant surprise.
I’ve said very little about the touchpad on the Logitech K400, and for good reason. There’s not much to tell. The touchpad works exactly as you’d expect it to. The only comment I’ll make is that if there is any moisture on your hands (or crumbs from Cheetos), the sensitivity will go down. Be nice to your keyboard and wipe your hands on something else first, please.
All things considered, the K400 wireless keyboard is a great choice for a media center. It gives you full control over your Media PC, Android mini PC or streaming TV box while not taking up a lot of space. It may not be a suitable replacement for your desktop keyboard, but it does give you the flexibility you need and looks good in the process. The K400 is available in both black and white – to match whatever color scheme you choose.
Where to buy the Logitech K400: