Brian's Photo Blog — Article 277
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Logitech Wireless Illuminated Keyboard
Friday 6 September 2013   —   Category: iPad Workflows
Here’s the first test of my new Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard for Mac, iPad, iPhone. So far, it seems pretty nice to type on. For this article I’m just going to write my random thoughts and impressions about this keyboard.

I’m sitting in my recliner, legs up, with the keyboard on my lap, and my iPad Mini on its Thought Out stand between my legs by my knees. This set-up seems to work well, so I don’t think I would miss having a ClamCase type of keyboard.

Just to try, I put the leg rest down, so now I’m sitting in the recliner without reclining. It’s a bit tighter, but it still works, thanks to the awesome adjustability of the Thought Out stand.

One thing is for sure — this keyboard is MUCH better than the keyboard on the ClamCase ... much, MUCH better! I could be a LOT more productive typing on this Logitech keyboard! And since ClamCase has had an announcement on their Web site for an iPad Mini version for about a year without actually producing one, I don’t think they are very serious about it.

Unlike the ClamCase and Apple wireless keyboards, this Logitech model has the extra-awesome feature of backlit keys, so I can easily see the keyboard in the dark. Even though I can touch-type well, I absolutely LOVE having illuminated keyboards, particularly because I usually work in a low-light environment.

It also has a hand sensor, so when you take your hands away from the keyboard, after a few seconds the backlighting rapidly fades away. Once you put your hands over the keyboard, the lights pop back on at full strength (or at whatever brightness you have set it at). Pretty cool — and a bit freaky!

Logitech makes an all-black Windows verison of this keyboard (K810), but I got the $23-more-expensive Mac version (K811), which has an Apple-like aluminum finish on top as well as the typical special Mac keys, which also have functionality on the iPad.

This keyboard is 11.5 by 5 inches, about half an inch thick, and weighs only 11.75 oz (334g). It’s so close to the size of the Apple wireless keyboard that the small differences aren’t worth mentioning. However, they keys themselves are a just slightly smaller on this Logitech keyboard (16mm across vs. 15mm), so there is slightly more space between the keys (3mm vs. 2mm).

The Logitech keys are slightly concave and have more rounded corners compared to the Apple keys. I would say that the end result of these design choices is that the Logitech keyboard feels a bit nicer to type on — it seems like your fingers somehow “fit” the keys better.

Of course, the main attraction for me was the backlit keys. After having an illuminated keyboard for the first time in 2010 on a MacBook Pro, I have never wanted to go back to a “dark” keyboard. I've been using the Logitech Illuminated Ultrathin Keyboard with Backlighting on my desktop Mac for a few years now, and been very happy with it.

I was also considering the backlit ZAGG Cover Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad mini, but wasn’t convinced that such a small keyboard would work for me. If I get really tempted by their one-piece keyboard case (similar to a ClamCase), and feel like my current two-piece solution with this Logitech keyboard and the Thought Out stand just isn’t working for me, I suppose I could buy the ZAGG keyboard and give it a try, and if I didn’t like it I could take advantage of their 45-day return policy.

It’s true that the ClamCase form factor is really nice, turning my full-sized iPad 2 into a notebook-computer-like one-piece unit. But I’m thinking that in reality, for the iPad Mini, it just would not be very practical, but rather frustrating instead because the keyboard would have to be so small. A one-piece keyboard case might be better if I did a lot of traveling. And if that keyboard was decent to type on — but that’s a BIG if. Even for traveling, this two-piece set-up might be just fine. I would like to find some sort of protective case for this keyboard though ... I’ll have to look into that.

Well, I’m so happy writing this article with my new keyboard, that I can imagine many future articles will be written with it too. This Logitech wireless illuminated keyboard makes a GREAT companion for the iPad Mini!
UPDATE — 21 November 2013
I had mentioned above that I would look into getting a protective case for this keyboard, so I wanted to follow up with how things turned out.

One option is a sleeve-type case, which could work fine for some people, but I wanted something more substantial which would give better protection. As I quickly found out, there are a lot less choices once you head that direction.

To make a long story short, I found some really nice cases at WaterField Designs — which are just as expensive as they are nice! I guess that’s one of the privileges of buying American rather than buying Chinese. Three of the cases were sleeves, so I focused my attention on the $50 Keyboard Travel Express and the $70 Keyboard Travel Case.

From the information on the Web site I could not decide between the two, so I decided to take advantage of their return policy and order both — that way I could decide “in person” and then return the one I didn’t want to keep. I’m glad I did it this way, because even in person it was hard to decide.

The advantage of the Keyboard Travel Express (see top video to the right) is that it is cheaper and somewhat less bulky, while still having room for the keyboard, cables, and a mouse or trackpad. The advantage of the $20-more-expensive and slightly-larger Keyboard Travel Case see bottom video) is that in addition to the just-mentioned items, there is also room for the iPad Mini itself, even when it is enclosed in its own sleeve case.

In the end, I really liked the ability to carry everything, including my iPad Mini, in the one single case — so I decided to splurge on the $70 Keyboard Travel Case. I know, I know, it’s a lot for a keyboard case — but it IS a very nice case! And I couldn’t find anything else out there like it.

I have not had the opportunity to travel with it yet, but I hope to do so sometime in 2014. Once I do, and if I have anything interesting to report, I will be sure to add it to this article.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 277
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