I rarely have usability issues with Apple’s products. In fact the only issue I’ve had so far was with the Magic Mouse. Never liked it, never used it! As for the keyboard, I didn’t like the removal of the numeric keypad, but over time I got used to it and it doesn’t bother me any more. However, as much as I like Apple’s keyboard, there are certain things that I wish it could do and it doesn’t. Thankfully Logitech tends to listen to my wishes for many years now and once again I choose their products and I’m more than happy about it.
I’m more than a gadget enthusiast and my desk currently sports a MacBook Pro, a mac mini and an iPad. I try to keep my office clean, organised and minimal, but some times that can be a difficult task. So the first thing I wanted was to have one keyboard and mouse for all my devices. And yes, I am aware of the software solutions for this, but I needed something more reliable, instant and hardware based.
Having an Apple Thunderbolt Display made the process of sharing my Logitech Anywhere MX mouse quite easy. I just plugged its USB thingy to the display and the mouse switches to which ever mac I’m using with the display. For some that might not be the best solution but to me it is, as I never use them both at the same time.
When it comes to the keyboard, things get a bit more complicated because it’s not relying on a USB connection, rather than a Bluetooth one. Re-pairing the keyboard with each mac I’m using doesn’t seem like a practical solution. And that’s where Logitech comes in…
Logitech’s K811 is a keyboard small enough to resemble Apple’s keyboard form factor, while adding a lot of much needed features. The best feature is that it can pair with up to 3 bluetooth devices and switch between them with a touch of a button. The switch is almost instant and judging by the rest of the media buttons, the concept for this keyboard was to be used for both mac computers and iOS devices.
The rest of the feature set
On its function keys, the K811 has volume and media controls, brightness controls for both the display and the keyboard and it also has a dedicated home button when connected with iOS devices. I wish it had next & previous media keys too but I’m guessing they run out of space. The whole keyboard is backlight and there is also a light sensor that switches illumination on and off automatically.
A backlight bluetooth keyboard sounds like a power hungry device. So the first thing I thought about it when I saw this device was batteries. Thankfully Logitech powered this beauty with an internal rechargeable battery that can be juiced up again and again with a simple micro USB cable. Another plus to the power perspective of the device is the on and off switch on its right side. Apple has one too but the way it works always confused me and I never knew whether the keyboard is on or off.
Pairing & Software
Pairing the K811 couldn’t be easier. There is a hidden button under the keyboard which triggers pairing mode. Once you press that, you select one of the three bluetooth interfaces and it’s ready to be paired with any device that detects it. That simple! As for switching between devices… I often use it with one of my macs and my iPad and switching never takes more than a second or two.
The K811 works as is. No software is mandatory for it to function, but there are a few nice things added to it by Logitech’s Preference Manager. Like the on-screen display of Caps Lock and backlight adjustment. But the most useful is definitely the battery indicator available on the lower left side.
Are there any cons?
I’d have to be picky and obnoxious in order to find something wrong with the K811. But if I was to create an issue over minor details I’d say that the plastic on the top side (where the function keys are) attracts fingerprints. There I said it!
Ok, seriously now, the only thing missing from this keyboard is some kind of power level indicator. There is absolutely no way to find out the charge level of its batteries. Unless you install Logitech’s Preference Manager, which to be honest doesn’t really give you an exact idea of the battery level, rather than just notify you when it needs recharging.
I got my K811 from Amazon.co.uk for £88, which is a bit more expensive than Apple’s keyboard, but definitely worths it if you consider the features you get and the fact that you’re not gonna buy any batteries… at all! Overall I’d say that the K811 is a well build product, does its job at the best possible way without any kind of problems or glitches. The illuminated keys is a nice to have feature although I never rely on it. Being able to recharge it through USB definitely makes this keyboard a good value for money, but its real potential gets unlocked when used on a desk with multiple devices.
A few months ago my Logitech Anywhere MX mouse died after spilling a cup of hot coffee to it. Without too much thought I went out and bought the same mouse again. I would do the exact same thing for the keyboard as well. It’s THAT good!