There is an embarrassment of choice in external keyboards for Apple hardware devices and their Windows and Android counterparts, but Swiss-based input device specialists Logitech have stood out as makers of some of the best ones. Logitech’s latest offering is their K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard — an ultra lightweight and compact portable ‘board especially well suited to going mobile with tablets and smartphones, but also compatible with Macintosh, Windows, and Chrome OS PCs, and even with Apple TV.
Photo Courtesy Logitech
Among its many virtues, the K380 keyboard’s marquee feature is that up to three Mac, iOS, Windows, Chrome, Android or Apple TV devices can be kept paired via Bluetooth simultaneously and switched among with a keypress. Very slick. Additionally, the K380’s keycaps are labeled with both Apple and PC/Android, and the keyboard automatically senses the platform with which it’s currently paired and automatically maps the keys to suit.
I’ve been experiencing a switchable device feature over the past year with a Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Cross-Platform Keyboard K480, which was the first desktop keyboard designed for switchable simultaneous connection use with up to three devices, regardless of form factor or computing platform, provided they support Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a relatively up-to-date operating system version.
With the K480 you could type a report on your computer, then, with the flick of the ‘board’s “Easy-Switch” dial, respond to a message on your smartphone. Flick again and type a tweet on your tablet, all on full-size keys with a familiar key-map layout supporting the shortcut keys you use most. In terms of form factor, the K480 keyboard and stand resemble a full-sized laptop computer keyboard, and transform a tablet into a facsimile almost-laptop computer, while still being perfectly usable as a desktop workstation keyboard so long as you can live without a dedicated numerical keypad. I found that I liked the K480’s key action so much that after trying it out for https://www.macprices.net/2014/09/17/logitech-bluetooth-multi-device-cross-platform-keyboard-k480-book-mystique-review/a review, it ended up serving as my office workstation keyboard for several months, while its integrated device cradle/stand would support my iPad as well when I wanted a physical keyboard.
You can read my The ‘Book Mystique review of the Logitech K480 Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Cross-Platform Keyboard here:
The downside of the K480 as a portable device was that nice as it is, it’s also as large and as heavy as some actual laptop computers. Logitech has now addressed that issue with the K380, which is feather-light and compact enough to fit in a large pocket, making it a convenient takealong solution for use with tablets and smartphones near-office input functionality virtually anywhere on the road, retaining laptop-style keyboard functionality with mobile devices, and there’s even a forward-delete key. I’m also impressed with the K380 keyboard’s key action. Logitech keyboards and mice typically set a high standard for comfort, and the K-380, notwithstanding its compact dimensions, is no exception. The keys are almost like pushbuttons, with a light, smooth, and very short travel, somewhat analogical to the keyboard in the new Apple 12-inch Retina MacBook.
In the interest of research, I tried using the K380 at my office workstation for a few days, and found it surprisingly satisfactory in that role. While the K-380 keyboard is smaller, with closer key spacing than a standard laptop keyboard, I found I was able to adapt to using it with only a few minutes’ orientation. And while it’s not going to replace my full-sized Logitech K-750 Wireless Solar unit as my workaday office keyboard, the K-380 is versatile, fully-featured, and comfortable enough that it actually can be used as an office keyboard, especially when you will be switching among devices like laptop – smartphone – tablet frequently.
According to Logitech spokesman Art O’Gnimh, research has determined that 85 percent of homes that use personal computers and mobile devices have more than one operating system in play, which highlights the usefulness of the K380’s multi-device, multi-OS features.
Another engineering achievement with the K-380 keyboard Mr. O’Gnimh says Logitech is particularly proud of is nominal two-year battery life on two standard AAA cells, conservatively based on an office use model of two million clicks per year.
Logitech has also streamlined and refined the Bluetooth pairing and device switching features with the K380 keyboard, making them pretty intuitive and painless and requiring just a button-press to select devices.
The keyboard is light and compact, making it an excellent choice of portable keyboard to take along without adding substantial bulk or weight, but retaining laptop-style keyboard functionality with mobile devices, and there’s even a forward-delete key. And while it’s not going to replace my Logitech K-750 Wireless Solar unit as my workaday office keyboard, the K-380 is versatile, fully-featured, and comfortable enough that it can be used as an office keyboard, especially when you will be switching among devices like laptop – smartphone – tablet frequently.
I’m also impressed with the K-380 keyboard’s key action. Logitech keyboards and mice typically set a high standard for comfort, and the K-380, notwithstanding its compact dimensions, is no exception. The keys are almost like pushbuttons, with a light, smooth, and very short travel, somewhat analogical to the keyboard in the new Apple 12-inch Retina MacBook. While the K-380 keyboard dard laptop keyboard is smaller, with closer key spacing than a standard laptop keyboard, I found I was able to adapt to using it with only a few minutes’ orientation.
Complaints? As with most computer related products these days, paper documentaton with the K-380 is minimalist, in this case consisting of a few diagrams printed on a cardboard sleeve. However, a very decent downloadable setup guide can be found at http://www.logitech.com/en-us/manuals/k380-setup-guide. I would also prefer having a physical on/off switch (although preferably not on the bottom of the device as it is located in the K-480 ‘board), rather than just being obliged to rely on auto power down and power up.
The K-380 keyboard will sell in the U.S. for a very friendly $39.99 ($49.99 Canada). That aggressive pricing will make the K-380 an affordable substitute for the pricey $160.00 Smart Keyboard option for the new iPad Pro for users who only need a portable part-time freestanding keyboard to accompany that device.
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Logitech has also released the, light, compact M-535 Bluetooth mouse that works with h Windows, Mac, Chrome OS and Android as a companion product to the K-380 keyboard. The M-535 also sells for $39.99.
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