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The importance of a keyboard cannot be denied. They are one of the most important methods (no pun intended) for interacting with the computers we use for much of our work and leisure. A bad or good keyboard can improve or degrade the user experience accordingly, so you should consider buying one.
The options are numerous: mechanical or membrane, Cherry MX or Brown Switch, Chick or Classic, wired or wireless, etc. While wired keyboards remain the first choice for those who want minimal latency or downtime, there are a number of reasons why a wireless keyboard is needed:
- Frequent workplace changes.
- Use a remote computer (e.g. when installing a home theater).
- You have pets for whom threads are a tasty snack.
Because I like to work and play from my living room with 55 TV and eGPU, and I am a proud rabbit father, I have been a fan of wireless keyboards and mice for years. Over the years I’ve tried different configuration options, and in this article I’d like to share my thoughts on comparing the Logitech K400 Plus, K830, and MX Keys wireless keyboards.
This article is limited to wireless keyboards that I have used more than once and therefore does not contain any keyboards that I have not used personally. There are many brands, but personally I’m a Logitech fan because of their excellent reliability and support for mice and keyboards.
Classic K400 Plus (without backlight)
Logitech MX Keys (backlit)
Keep in mind that as long as I’m playing, I’m not a competitive player and I don’t care about the shortest reaction time. These are not high performance gaming / RGB keyboards, but their performance is generally sufficient to satisfy all players except the most competitive, I think.
Logitech K400 Plus
The Logitech K400 Plus keyboard, which debuted in 2015, isn’t the latest and even looks a little like a classic. But, like all classics, it remains for one or two good reasons. The K400’s housing is cheap, robust, prints properly and has batteries (two AA batteries, as opposed to the internal lithium-ion batteries that power the K380 and MX keys) that last forever. If you’re looking for a cheap keyboard for your HTPC or even your desktop, it can’t go wrong for this price – as long as you’re not typing in the dark all the time.
The K400 Plus is an excellent HTPC keyboard, without too much ringing and whistling.
- Lasts forever with batteries (~1 year).
- Highlighted volume adjustment buttons
- Decent typing experience
- Integrated touch screen with physical keys
- Uses a backplane receiver (2.4 GHz).
- No backlight
- AA batteries required
- The touchpad becomes sensitive to moisture.
- No Bluetooth or multi-device support
The only thing I didn’t like about my K400 Plus was the lack of backlighting. When I found out I needed a wireless keyboard after a sudden move took me away from my stuff for more than 30 days, I bought a K830, thinking it would be an easy upgrade. But despite the higher model number it turns out that the K830 was already released for the K400 Plus – in 2014! So I felt that the user experience on the illuminated K830 was considerably worse for me than on the K400 Plus.
Let’s start with the positive. The K830 is equipped with an internal lithium-ion battery and is charged via a micro USB B cable. Its robust construction and beautiful black finish make it more attractive than the K400 Plus. Unfortunately, that’s where my positive impressions end.
The biggest problem with this keyboard are the keys. First of all, the pressure force (the pressure needed to press the key) seems too weak, giving the keys an extremely muscular throw instead of a click. The second problem actually has to do with the first, namely the tight and annoying keycaps with sharp edges. The result is that you (or I at least) constantly press the corner of the other key with your finger, which in the best case is annoying and in the worst case leads to a typing error. My printing accuracy on the K830 was, even at night, much worse than on the K400 Plus. The situation improved a bit after the first few weeks, I must add, but overall the porridge feeling does not improve.
The fact remains that it is beautiful, enlightened, and that hitting itself is a very subjective thing. But don’t forget to try this keyboard in person to see how you can type on it, or give it back if you buy it online and don’t like it.
Visually similar to the K400 Plus, but with a black light, the K830 offers more problems than it solves.
- Highlighted volume adjustment buttons
- Rechargeable internal battery
- Integrated touch screen with physical keys
- Uses both a Unifying (2.4 GHz) and a Bluetooth receiver
- Compatible with MacOS and Windows
- Sponge keys
- Sharp and slightly unstable keys
- Battery life is only about 10 days when using the backlight.
The quality of the keys and the consistency of the key strokes on the K830 quickly led me to look for a keyboard that I could enjoy even with prolonged use. What first attracted me in the K400 Plus and K830 were the integrated touchpads, but I found out that I almost always use the MX Master 3 mouse. Freed from this limitation, after testing the keyboard feel in my local Best Buy store, I decided to replace my K830 with MX keys.
The MX Keys is the most expensive of the three options (I spent a little less than $100 on mine), but for that price you get a really well built keyboard, low height and with (in my opinion) excellent keyboard efficiency. The keys are so stable under my fingers and offer the right resistance – I can’t brag about it enough. The numpad is not something I use every day, but for the occasional entry of data it is a nice extra.
The MX keys are again equipped with a built-in lithium-ion battery that can be charged via a USB C cable. When used with a backlight, the battery life would be similar to that of the K830. But without them, the keys last up to five months. Not bad for an internal battery. It’s also very robust, which means it’s not so light that you might forget it’s lying on your lap like the K400 Plus. You will certainly remember to have a metal plate on your knees or feet.
Another area that stands out is the function set, which in this case could control up to 3 individual devices via a 2.4 GHz fusion dongle or Bluetooth. For this function there are special keys above the Insert, Home and Next Page keys.
The very small nuance is that the keys cannot adjust the volume with a single keystroke when the F-keys are used as the main function (as God intended, I must add ( ͡⚆ ͜ʖ ͡⚆). The fn key is also located on the right side of the keyboard, probably due to the presence of the cmd key for our fellow users. It takes some getting used to, but with its position you can adjust the volume with at least one hand.
The MX keys are more expensive and don’t have a touchpad, but the layout, feedback and features make it one of my favorite keyboards I’ve ever used.
- The keyboard features clear feedback and robust, ergonomic keys.
- Has a numeric keypad
- Rechargeable internal battery with USB connection type C
- Excellent battery performance
- Uses a Unifying receiver (2.4 GHz) and Bluetooth to connect up to 3 devices.
- No special media keys
- No touch screen
This article covers 3 of Logitech’s most popular wireless keyboards, but keep in mind that there are other brands if you’re looking for something with a little more style than these options – especially if you’re a competitive gamer. For most people, however, I think one of the above keyboards will work well for your needs. The K400 Plus is the king of the budget, and it’s pretty handy for typing. You miss a few keys at night, but unless you do most of your work at night, don’t bother too much. The K830 is compact, backlit and has internal batteries. If you don’t mind the softer/weaker keys, this could be what you’re looking for. If a built-in trackpad isn’t essential and you’re more likely to spend $100 on a keyboard, you’ll have a hard time finding a wireless keyboard that beats all the very impressive MX keys.
What is your favorite wireless keyboard? Do you have a different opinion about one of the products compared in this article? Let us know in the comments!
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