We have been doing round-ups of various input devices fit for HTPC purposes. Some of the vendors have started shipping with Bluetooth instead of using a proprietary communication mechanism over 2.4 GHz RF. The advantage of Bluetooth is its versatility and presence in almost all modern mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). These don't support a full-size USB host port for plugging in the USB RF receiver dongles. Utilizing Bluetooth enables these input devices to communicate with the rising crop of mobile devices as well as interface with traditional PCs. Communication with PCs can be enabled by using either an inbuilt card - common in most notebooks which integrate Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities in a single mPCIe card - or, an explicit Bluetooth dongle.

Logitech recently introduced an innovative Bluetooth keyboard, the K480. While traditional Bluetooth keyboards have aimed to differentiate with aesthetics, in-built rechargeable batteries and support for multiple devices at the $100+ price points, Logitech's K480 aims to bring in a set of 'sweet-spot' features for $50.

The salient features of the K480 include:

  • Support for up to three different Bluetooth devices, with easy switching between device profiles with a rotary dial on the top left corner
  • Recess to allow placement of smartphones / tablets in a position suitable for viewing while typing on the keyboard
  • Keyboard support for both Mac and Windows / Android ecosystems
  • Explicit power on/off switch for conserving battery life

After extensive use, we found that the keyboard fulfills most of its promises. It is cross-platform and does support pairing to multiple devices. The sequence of steps to get the device paired is outlined pictorially in the top half - This ensures that even the tablet-only non-tech savvy consumers can get up and running quickly with the unit. There is no need for a dongle, and as long as the target device has Bluetooth capabilities, the keyboard is good to go. Range is not an issue due to the use-case (mobile devices in close proximity). The unit feels quite solid, and is heavy (in order to ensure stability when heavy tablets are placed in the recess). The function keys are multiplexed with some multimedia / mobile specific buttons (such as single keypress to home). In addition, on Android devices, an app can be installed to provide additional keyboard layouts.

In terms of key feel and the typing experience, it has to be said that the keyboard is suitable for usage in bursts (again, the typical smartphone / tablet usage), and not prolonged typing. The shape of the keys, as well as the keypress feedback, seem to have been decided more with the looks and aesthetics in mind, rather than the typing experience. Fortunately, there is nothing to complain about the keyboard layout itself (from the viewpoint of Windows and Android systems, at least). Other than that, it would have been nice to have an adjustable tilt option for ergonomic considerations.

HTPC & Mobile Keyboards Bench
Aspect Logitech K480
Device Type Keyboard Only Keyboard Only
Dimensions 11.77" x 7.68" x 0.79" 11.77" x 7.68" x 0.79"
Weight 1.81 lbs / 820 g 1.81 lbs / 820 g
Power Source 2x AAA 2x AAA
Communication Bluetooth Bluetooth
Power Saver Explicit On/Off Switch Explicit On/Off Switch
Keys Count 79 (with multiplexed multimedia and mobile-specific keys) 79 (with multiplexed multimedia and mobile-specific keys)
Touchpad Dimensions (Diagonal) N/A N/A
USB Receiver Storage Compartment N/A N/A
Backlight No No
Keyboard Layout 8/10 8/10
Ergonomics 8/10 8/10
Build Quality 9/10 9/10
MSRP (USD) $49.99 $49.99
Warranty 1 year 1 year

In terms of future improvements at this price point, it would be nice to have a trackball (in case of an unchanged form factor) or a trackpad. This would enable standalone usage with a PC (similar to the Adesso Bluetooth Keyboard WKB-4000BB). The Bluetooth keyboard market for mobile devices is heavily commoditized. So, it is refreshing to see Logitech integrating some nifty and interesting features in the K480 to make it stand out in the crowd.

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  • Valantar - Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - link

    Thanks for a good, easily digestable review. The recent five-way round up left me slightly confused (especially due to comparing some very similar products with generic names), but this format is easily read and understood.

    Also, I'm hoping there is a similar review in the works for the Logitech K830 Illuminated Living Room keyboard, as it seems nearly ideal for this kind of usage (although it is slightly large). Also, I'd be interested in seeing the Lenovo Compact Bluetooth keyboard with TrackPoint (http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/itemdetails/0B47189/4... reviewed in a similar way. I'm currently using the non-bluetooth verison for my desktop computer, and it's by far the best compact keyboard for typing that I've used, and the addition of the trackpoint is brilliant (even though it requires downloading and installing drivers from Lenovo's site for the trackpoint to work). The only thing I feel it lacks is backlighting, but it's still a brilliant keyboard.
    Reply
  • Jared Timm - Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - link

    Enjoyed this review. Would be interested to see a review of the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard (http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/p/universa... which I'm trying to choose between. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - link

    It's a little pathetic that Microsoft now makes a Bluetooth keyboard for mobile devices, yet Windows Phone does not support Bluetooth keyboards... Reply
  • LostAlone - Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - link

    There are quite a large number of Windows 8 tablets that do support bluetooth keyboards though, and since they are pushing the 'replace your laptop' part of the tablet market at the moment it does rather make sense.

    It's kinda funny how ridiculously hostile you are to Microsoft for no obvious reason. Turns out that what they were thinking of was different to what you were thinking of! How pathetic of them for not being exactly you!
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, October 30, 2014 - link

    Bluetooth keyboard support in Windows Phone should be a no brainer though. It does seem relatively shortsighted. Reply
  • meacupla - Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - link

    That dial to the left and those rounded keys make this look like a toy.
    Not that it is necessarily a bad thing, because it looks pretty easy to use for the people who are tech illiterate.
    Reply
  • techadigeek - Thursday, October 30, 2014 - link

    has this keyboard been launched in India yet ? Reply

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