As people are using PCs for many more things at home and the computer itself has become, in a few cases, an objet d'art in the case of some all-in-one devices companies are putting much more effort into peripherals. In this review I want to look at two of these high-end devices, Logitech's illuminated keyboards.
Let's start with why you might want to buy an illuminated keyboard. It's clear that a great deal of design effort has gone into these products, indeed Logitech has been putting much more effort into design generally. I've recently bought a few of their products including the DiNovo Keyboard for netbooks for which the palm-wrest is a single piece of brushed aluminium and their HD Pro Webcam which shoots 1080p video with their ClearChat Wireless Headphones (and I'll be reviewing these last two items soon).
Illuminated keyboards can be a real boon however, especially for the living room when people are winding down for the evening with the TV on and the lights are dimmed. It makes everything much easier to use and I can tell you straight away that in this type of environment you will notice the benefits of an illuminated keyboard straight away. But let's have a look at these two particular high-end products.
The Logitech Illuminated Ultrathin Keyboard with Backlighting is most definitely the more striking of the two. I wasn't too keen on the over-styled font used on the keys but there can be no doubt that this keyboard is extraordinarily pretty and exactly the sort of keyboard that will help make an all-in-one PC look stunning.
The action is smooth and quiet and there's plenty on offer including media playback controls on a function key combination and dedicated controls for volume and a key to launch the ever-important calculator.
The keyboard is surrounded by a piece of clear plastic that sadly doesn't also light up but that looks gorgeous. The lighting itself has three brightness settings and can also be switched off when you don't want it. It's not intrusive, even when sitting in the dark, but there's bleed around the keys too instead of just through the middle.
In fairness this is a problem that's common with illuminated keyboards and the wireless one suffers from the same problem, though not as badly.
One difference between the two keyboards is that the wired keyboard has a double height Del key and shuffles the Insertkey, which almost nobody uses any more, off to the top row of small function keys. I found this makes a big difference as you might be surprised how often this key gets used.
The Logitech wireless illuminated keyboard is a very different proposition. It's all curvy with big, bold letters on the keys in an almost comic sans font. It's clear here that Logitech have gone for comfort rather than looks and each key is slightly curved as as to make typing for long periods more comfortable. This extends to the write-wrest too which is also curved.
The keyboard has a similar clear plastic strip around the outside, again not illuminated that adds to the chic appeal of the device, a helpful on-off switch and a very useful battery indicator.
You plug this keyboard in via the supplied Micro-USB cable and I found leaving it plugged in all the time except for when I wanted to use that cable to top up the charge on my phone. It's useful to be able to use it wired or wireless.
But how does power consumption work? Logitech have tried to minimise the draining effect of the backlight by including a motion sensor into the keyboard that only turns it on when you're near the device (it also comes on when you're typing). This motion sensor is in the top right of the device though near the battery life indicator and, I don't know about you, but I don't put my hand up[ there very often. Putting the sensor in the wrist-rest would have been far more sensible I think.
Speaking of sensors, the wireless receiver is tiny and there's no pairing involved, it just works all the time. This is essential as I remember how hard it was to pair keyboard from even a few short years ago. The backlight again has three brightness settings.
So which one do I think is best and are they worth the price premium you'll pay for them? If you tend to have lots of drinks around then you should probably look elsewhere as these keyboards are definitely not spill-proof, but they're definitely worth it if you want to make a design statement with your PC, or if it sits in a prominent position in your home.
For style then the wired keyboard wins hands down, if you'll excuse the pun, but if you need to type for extended periods then the wireless keyboard is the on you should go with for the extra comfort. This keyboard is also excellent for people with vision problems as the letters and symbols on the keys are very clear and much larger than on your average keyboard.
If I had to pick a winner then the wirelss keyboard pips it, though both are excellent, very quiet and have great build quality. Recommended.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.