Now more than ever, people are always on the go, and they're constantly carrying around multiple gadgets with them. Whether it's to keep in contact with the rest of the world while going from one train station to the next, or to pen a novel while sipping on an almond latte at a coffee shop, technology and connectivity go hand in hand and are useful tools, especially when combined. The new Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth keyboard ($65.99 at Newegg) is created around portable bliss and connectivity, but it doesn't sacrifice what actually matters: being able to type for prolonged periods of time.
The K380 — which is what I'm using to type up this review — may just be a writer's new best friend. It works well, packs a few neat features, and can be carried around virtually anywhere. It may not be a gaming keyboard — there are plenty of those for you to use and fall in love with — but it doesn't have to be. Simply, the K380 is an excellent portable Bluetooth keyboard.
Logitech has been tapping at the portable market for a while now, and the K380 continues the company's practice of targeting the multi-device-loving crowd. You can easily pair the keyboard with up to three devices at once — this includes computers, tablets, Android phones, and iPhones, as well as Chrome OS devices and even Apple TV. I tested it out with my Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 and my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, and switching between the two devices took just over one second.
The F1, F2, and F3 keys double as Bluetooth keys to allow you to switch between devices, and they're colored differently from the rest of the keys to stand out at a glance. This feature is identical to Logitech's previously released K480. Speaking of which, unlike the K480, the K380 doesn't include a built-in slot to stand your tablet or smartphone. Such a feature, while useful, is what essentially keeps the K480 from being travel-friendly like the more compact K380. Besides, a lot of tablet cases double as stands, so that omission is nowhere close to being a deal-breaker.
Design and comfort
The K380, which comes in gray and blue, weighs 14.92 ounces — not super-lightweight, but light enough to take with you anywhere you go, and weighty enough to have a durable feel to it. It won't be weighing you down if you throw it in your bag and walk long distances with it. I tested this out by walking to a local diner (35 minutes) and a nearby Starbucks (20 minutes) with my tablet, keyboard, and notepad (and snacks for my dog, but that's beside the point), and my bag was still lighter than when I'm lugging around my laptop.
At 10.9 inches in width and 4.9 inches in height, the K380 is the perfect size for lengthy typing sessions, and it won't take up a whole lot of space in your bag. When placed on a surface, the keyboard comes up .06 inches at the far end and slants downward toward the SPACEBAR. Even if you're used to typing on flat keyboards, the slight slant creates a great sensation to typing and feels natural, much like a home PC keyboard.
The K380 opts out of utilizing the chiclet-style keys that are commonplace in wireless keyboards and laptops. Instead, the keyboard uses round keys that sort of remind me of an old school typewriter. This design choice may take some getting used to for some folks, but for me, the round keys felt perfect right from the get-go.
The keys all have a nice kick to them, which only enhances the experience if you're a particularly fast typist. And even if you're not, the slight feedback of the keys just barely springing up after you hit them makes for a comfortable sensation. They're fairly quiet, too, which really can't be said about the K480 and its much louder, clunkier keys.
Some may be put off since the K380 uses two AAA batteries rather than a USB rechargeable battery, and to be honest, the lack of such a feature is a bit of a bummer — just a bit. That said, Logitech claims that the keyboard boasts a two-year battery life, and since it already comes with two pre-loaded AAA batteries, you get everything you need right out of the box. If Logitech is good on its word, then a two-year battery life is a remarkable plus and somewhat of a non-issue as far as using AAA batteries goes.
Another thing that may pose a problem for some is the lack of backlit keys. For individuals who type in the dark, this could be an issue. In addition, due to the round shape of the keys, it's possible that you'll hit the wrong key from time to time. Last on this list of minor hiccups is the fact that the K380 doesn't include HOME or END keys, which will annoy some more than others. Personally, I've done fine using the keyboard without them, though I still miss the keys a bit since I do tend to use both.
It's worth mentioning that I picked up the K380 just one day after erroneously shelling out $18 for an awful Walmart-distributed keyboard — I know, I know. If anything, that minor lapse in judgment allowed me to test two Bluetooth keyboards of vastly different quality in just a two-day period. It was after dealing with that other lousy keyboard that I was able to see and truly appreciate how wonderful the K380 is in its functionality. It's a super-responsive device, so you can rest assured that every single press of a key will register accordingly.
Again, and I can't stress this enough as GameCrate is primarily a gaming-based website, the K380 isn't going to replace your treasured Bluetooth gaming keyboard. To be fair, it could work perfectly fine with some indie titles, but this is, above all else, a work keyboard. That's not a knock against it — I'm just merely clarifying which audience this fine piece of hardware is for.
If you're a writer — or if you write a lot for work, school, or your blog — the Logitech K380 keyboard is a magnificent device. It's light and compact enough to take on the go, but even if you don't leave home often and simply need a good wireless keyboard, you can't go wrong here. The lack of backlit keys as well as the missing HOME and END keys could be a negative for some people, but even without those things, it's still a great keyboard for typing, and its ability to seamlessly switch between devices is incredibly useful.