Computer Shopper - - PORTABLE KEYBOARDS -

£90 • From www.cur­rys.co.uk


This track­pad-equipped key­board is great for smart TVs and me­dia PCs, but not much else

THIS KEY­BOARD SOME­WHAT stretches the def­i­ni­tion of por­ta­ble: at 367mm wide and 16.5mm deep, it barely fits in a satchel.

There’s a good rea­son for that, though, one you’ve prob­a­bly al­ready no­ticed: the lap­top-style track­pad and left/right click but­tons, mounted to the right of the keys. This is a de­sign in­her­ited from Log­itech’s old TK820, which had the same, un­usual rai­son d’être as the K830 TV does: to stay in your liv­ing room and act as a con­troller for a home me­dia PC or smart TV.

The track­pad and mouse but­tons, then, are an in­te­gral fea­ture rather than a ter­tiary gim­mick; when you’re sit­ting on a sofa, you really don’t want to be han­dling a phys­i­cal mouse, even if it is a wire­less model.

De­spite this me­dia fo­cus, though, it can be used with mo­bile An­droid de­vices as well. The K830 TV can con­nect to de­vices via Blue­tooth 4.0, in ad­di­tion to the bun­dled 2.4GHz USB re­ceiver, so we were quickly set up and tap­ping away on a phone. The track­pad also saves the fuss of hav­ing to

reach out and se­lect things with the touch­screen, as fin­ger con­tact pro­duces an on­screen cur­sor. This made apps such as Mi­crosoft Word even eas­ier to nav­i­gate.

The track­pad it­self is smaller than it was on the TK820, but still more than us­able. It’s smooth and re­spon­sive, per­form­ing mul­ti­touch ges­tures promptly and re­li­ably. The mouse but­tons also have enough of a tac­tile re­sponse that you can feel them reg­is­ter in the dark­ened room, as is of­ten the case with home cin­e­mas.

Speak­ing of the dark, the K830 TV is fully back­lit. An am­bi­ent light sen­sor is in­cluded, to au­to­mat­i­cally switch be­tween three bright­ness lev­els de­pend­ing on how dark the room is, though in our ex­pe­ri­ence this didn’t work very well, of­ten leav­ing the light­ing off com­pletely. Luck­ily, there’s a man­ual tog­gle built into the F1 key, so you can set the bright­ness your­self.

The catch is that en­gag­ing the back­light will ut­terly de­stroy bat­tery life: ac­cord­ing to Log­itech, the recharge­able bat­tery will last for one year on a sin­gle charge, as­sum­ing two hours’ use per day and the back­light be­ing left off. With it switched on, how­ever, this plum­mets to just 10 days of sim­i­lar use.

It’s clear that Log­itech has given plenty of thought to what makes a good liv­ing room key­board, and there are even more bells and whis­tles in the form of full me­dia con­trols and, smartly, a USB ex­ten­sion ca­ble for the re­ceiver, so it can be placed fur­ther away from the TV or PC to pre­vent in­ter­fer­ence.

It is a shame, though, that the oc­ca­sional Net­flix search query or ac­count lo­gin are the only things it can really do, as it’s not suited for ex­tended typ­ing ses­sions at all. The keys are cramped – an oc­cu­pa­tional hazard for por­ta­ble key­boards, but an an­noy­ance none­the­less – and have a slug­gish, mushy ac­tion.

With­out a low price to make up for this, the K830 TV is stuck in its niche as a home the­atre key­board you might break out only on oc­ca­sion. It fills this role well, to be sure, but never feels like an es­sen­tial pur­chase.

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