Introduction

Content consumption using media-streaming set-top boxes (STBs) and home theater PCs (HTPCs) has seen an uptick in recent years. Even as 'cord-cutting' becomes more and more popular, STBs from service providers are also becoming quite interactive. Remote controllers are bundled with all OTT (over-the-top) boxes and Android media streamers, and Media Center remotes are common for HTPCs. However, these limited-function remotes become cumbersome to use as media consumption becomes more interactive (for example, consumers explicitly searching for a movie to play on Netflix).

In our 'Interacting with HTPCs' series, we have been presenting results from our evaluation of devices fulfilling a majority of the criteria below:

  • Wireless operation and optimal sizing (neither the mini- varieties which make typing with large fingers difficult, nor the full-sized combos which come with separate keyboard and mouse units)
  • Integrated touchpad or trackball
  • Good ergonomics and keyboard layout amenable to single-handed operation (common in HTPC scenarios)
  • Adaptability to occasional prolonged typing / computer interaction tasks
  • Acceptable build quality

Availability of a sleep mode for prolonged battery life, 5 GHz communication frequency (instead of 2.4 GHz), integrated rechargeable batteries and support for fancy gestures (in the case of touchpad keyboards) are some of the nice-to-have features. Obviously, given a particular device, some or all of these features have to be traded off for an acceptable price point.

The Logitech K400 is a gold-standard in the HTPC keyboard arena. Its popularity stems from a combination of its feature set and pricing. We looked at it in detail in our first review in the 'Interacting with HTPCs' series. Unfortunately, despite its popularity, the keyboard does have a few drawbacks with respect to ergonomics and key placement. It is challenging to use for extended typing duties. With a better budget, would it be possible to improve the HTPC interaction experience? On the other hand, are there any acceptable alternatives at a lower price point?

In today's piece, we will be looking at four different options with MSRPs ranging from $15 to $100.

  1. Logitech K830 Illuminated Living-Room HTPC Keyboard (MSRP of $99.99)
  2. Logitech TK820 Wireless All-in-One Keyboard (MSRP of $99.99)
  3. Perixx PERIBOARD-716 Wireless Touchpad Keyboard (MSRP of $25)
  4. Perixx PERIBOARD-706 PLUS Wireless Trackball Keyboard (MSRP of $15)

We will first take a look at the features offered by each of these keyboards in detail along with some usage impressions. This will be followed by the comparison of the pros and cons of each of these units on a single page. Note that most of the aspects presented in keyboard reviews are subjective and dependent on the test environment. For example, even the wireless range may vary from one test location to another because the 2.4 GHz channel being used might exhibit interference issues under certain conditions. This could result in improper functioning and range issues. All the four keyboards being considered today are RF-based and operate in the 2.4 GHz band with an advertised range of 30 ft (under ideal conditions). We will not be covering the range factor any further in this review.

Logitech K830 and TK820
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  • cjs150 - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Personally I would look at bluetooth keyboard/trackpad combinations sold for tablets. I use one sourced from Amazon and it is very good from the sofa. They tend to be cheap and build quality can be variable but far better, for my purposes, than the models reviewed Reply
  • der - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Keyboard lyfe Reply
  • Samus - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    The Perixx 716 was one of the worst HTPC keyboards I've tried, and I've tried many. It has terrible range and the stepped keys deliver a crappy typing experience. The Logitech K400 has the same crap keys, which is why I am shocked Genesh thinks this is the "gold standard" for HTPC keyboards. If he is basing that recommendation on price, the Microsoft Wireless All-In-One Media Keyboard N9Z-00001 is nearly identical spec at $25; a better all-around keyboard than the Logitech K400.

    It's unfortunate that nearly a decade after it was released, the diNovo Edge (Logitech) is to me the GOLD standard HTPC keyboard, having virtually every conceivable option right down to a dedicated sleep button and Bluetooth (REAL 30ft interference-free range without it cutting in and out.)

    It's only problem is it isn't made anymore. Being a decade old design, it also lacks modern technologies like multitouch gestures for scrolling (although the 'circlepad' is workable for scrolling.)

    Why has nothing been made to its caliber since?
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    For a minute there I thought this was a retrospective article on the Sinclair QL computer from the early 80's! Reply
  • BillyONeal - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    It saddens me to see Anandtech apply scores to things. Reply
  • megadirk - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I've been using the k830 for a year now. I haven't found any cons in that year. The battery lasts a long time even with the back light on. It works great using your right thumb as the mouse and left pointer finger for left click when you are holding the keyboard with two hands. Typing on it works even on my lap. I would recommend it to anybody looking for an HTPC keyboard, and don't buy it for $99, I got mine for $75 on sale. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    All I really want is someone to improve on the Logitech K400.

    Strengths:
    -Power button and several other useful function buttons right on top. One press of the power button, and my HTPC is awake
    -Inexpensive, though I would pay more

    Weaknesses:
    -Key layout is cramped. I'd pay more for a layout that matches my usual keyboard, and I'd be fine if this extended the width 1-2".
    -Trackpad buttons are weak; I'd pay a bit more for ones built stronger

    In short, I just want an improved revision of the K400 with a bit more standard layout that's built tougher, and as one last like, I'd love the tap-to-click not even exist, as it has been more of a pain. I've disabled it, but it hasn't always remained disabled. I'd easily pay double the $25 I paid for the K400 to get one with a bit more quality to it.
    Reply
  • meacupla - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Try a Microsoft media keyboard. Reply
  • kgh00007 - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I have the K830 and it's awesome!

    It has a light sensor so that the backlight does not come on during the day or when the lights are on.

    The battery life is awesome, for my use on my HTPC in the living room, the battery lasts for months at a time. I've had it for almost a year now and I've only charged it a handful if times.

    The backlighting is great in the dark and it has been dropped several times without taking any damage. So durability is good too.

    I would recommend it to anyone for living room use. It may be expensive, but you get what you pay for, a really great functional experience.
    Reply
  • zachrohlfs - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Cideko Wireless Air Media. Had it for many years. The range is a bit restrictive if you are going through glass or objects. Otherwise it is small and once you get used to the directing of it, it is nice. Reply

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