The move from your study into t he lounge hasn’t been a graceful one for personal computers, to say the least. There are massive benefits to having a computer connected to your television which is why, for example, Apple Mac Minis have become so commonplace in home entertainment cabinets. However, most personal computers weren’t built for this purpose and need a little help from their friends. One of those friends is Logitech, which makes great universal remotes and other accessories, now including a really good solution for making mice and keyboards more couch-friendly.
The Logitech K400 is a combination keyboard and trackpad designed for media PCs. Whether you occasionally plug your laptop into your television to watch some legally-acquired TV shows and movies es or go the whole hog with a dedicated ated computer for your pictures, es, streaming music, video and d other requirements, the K400 hopes to be your new interface of choice.
The keyboard is small all enough to be workable on the couch but without tiny, y, cramped p keys. The Good value for DIY media centre PCs attached trackpad does the job very well but I wouldn’t expect you to fire up Counterstrike (a first-person shooter video game) with this as a controller. One challenge is that the K400 doesn’t have backlighting, so typing in the dark is a stretch. This may sound minor, but I found myself squinting at the keyboard as I tried to angle it toward the glow of my television and type something legible on more than one occasion. Backlighting is a must for anything hoping to live in my lounge.
Logitech have specifically designed the K400 for Microsoft Windows but it worked pretty well with a Mac Mini in our tests, with the exception of three special keys on the top of the keyboard that weren’t missed.
To connect the wireless K400 one must use up a USB port on your media centre PC. There two dongles − one for the keyboard portion and another for
the mouse, but Logitech
R500 has cleverly designed the two to combine so you can get things going with one USB port instead of two. Bluetooth would have been an even better solution but has limited range, which is probably why Logitech opted for its own thingies.
If you’re putting together a do-ityourself media centre PC then this is one of the better keyboard and mouse options, especially at the price. If you’re using anything other than Windows you may want to consider other options, however, and I’d definitely recommend something with backlighting on the keypad. There are also some great apps like Mobile Mouse that turn your tablet or smartphone into a mouse and keyboard for your computer.