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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  • zachrohlfs - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Wanted to edit my post to say full size keyboards are crap for HTPCs, its all about having a small form factor to operate and be able to place into a coffee table drawer. I am not about having a hulking lumbering keyboard floating around and yes anything over 4" x 8" is hulking. If you can type on a smartphone you can type on that footprint.

    Anandtech you are better than this review.
    Reply
  • DCide - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    It depends on your usage and personal priorities.

    I used the K400 for over a year and could hardly stand it. A slightly undersized keyboard is one of the dumbest designs possible. It should either be significantly smaller than standard key-spacing, or not at all!

    I've now had the TK820 for over a year, and it's much better. The larger size is well worth it. As has been mentioned, the trackpad could be better, and the wireless range is barely adequate. It works, and I can type on it. Not perfect, but I'm content with it.
    Reply
  • Margalus - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I don't type on my smartphone. I speak into my phone and it types for me....

    A 4x8 keyboard might be ok for a 1 year old. But for an adult, no. It needs to be a somewhat full size keyboard that can be typed on.
    Reply
  • Jakall78 - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I personally think that any smartphone can be a good to great HTPC keyboard/controller. There are dozens of free apps that can control your HTPC by wifi. Kodi has dedicated apps and most work just great. Time for a software review perhaps? Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    > All of the presented units could do with an upgrade to operation in the 5 GHz band.

    I was actually surprised that there really are a few devices operating at 5GHz; however I'd definitely always go for bluetooth since that is the only stable option for me, Logitech unifying sucks rocks although I'm living in one of the few not 2.4GHz starved areas...

    I'm using a K810/T630 combo and I don't think anything can top that in usability and WAF (wife acceptance factor) plus I can have several pairings and easily switch it which is quite handy every now and then... I Would even go for a nice keyboard/touchpad all-in-one device but the available ones with Bluetooth truly suck.
    Reply
  • Samus - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Yeah, Bluetooth is hands down the best. It never cuts in/out and staggers like Unifying receivers, and coexists well with Wifi traffic. Reply
  • DeathReborn - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    None of these are good enough to replace my Rapoo E6700. It may be Bluetooth but it lasts an age, is really comfortable to use and has handy gestures to control Windows 8+ easily. It's also sturdy as a rock as my nephews are quite physical with it and it still works flawlessly.

    Hopefully Microsoft's moves to use the XBONE for HTPC purposes instead of Windows doesn't stop people making these kind of high quality peripherals (bad apples excluded ofc).
    Reply
  • ahjones - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Sinclair QL Reply
  • meacupla - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    No microsoft or rapoo? Reply
  • M4stakilla - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Tablet + Kodi + Yatse is all I need / want...

    I don't see any advantage in having a silly keyboard around my sofa...
    Reply

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