Solar powered Bluetooth wonder
I recently bought a new Mac Mini and was quite surprised (actually, I wasn’t surprised, but I was annoyed) to find that Apple’s ultra-affordable Mac doesn’t come with any form of input device. That wouldn’t be so bad, if Apple didn’t want to sting you for sixty quid for the official Bluetooth keyboard. I would much rather Apple just bundle the mouse and keyboard with the Mini and bump the price up, but I don’t work in Apple’s marketing department.
The thing is, I’d have nothing against paying a premium for the official Bluetooth keyboard, it’s a wonderfully designed piece of kit. What annoys me is that, having owned one before, I know that it goes through batteries at a ridiculous rate. Seriously, I used to have one on my main Mac and I was swapping out the AA’s every 10-14 days. And that was using a premium bunny-mascotted brand, which adds up to a huge cost over a couple of years.
So, I started looking around for alternatives, and found the K760 Bluetooth keyboard from Logitech.
Although it’s styled quite similarly to the Apple keyboard, the massive solar receptor and Logitech logo give it away. Yep, this keyboard has no replaceable batteries in it whatsoever, it works from a soldered in rechargeable cell which gains its power from that big ball of gas in the sky.
In fact, Logitech say on their site that the K760 can be charged from any form of light, be it from the sun, a desk lamp, office lighting, or anything else that gives off a decent amount of light. It’ll even work in the dark, thanks to the built in rechargeable cell, although I’m not sure for how long.
Connecting the K760 up to a compatible device is as easy as pie. It’s just a case of turning on Bluetooth on the host device and then pressing the connection button on the underside of the keyboard. The K760 will then appear as a new Bluetooth device on your host and you should be able to pair up without any trouble. I had the K760 connected up to the Mac in about 10 seconds, which is about as quick as you could hope for.
I mention the Mac first as it’s clear from the layout that the K760 is designed to be used with Apple’s hardware. It looks the part, but it also comes with the standard cmd, option, eject and volume keys that you’d get with a standard Mac keyboard, and they work in the same way.
That being said, there’s nothing to stop you connecting the K760 to any Bluetooth ready host device. For the purposes of this review I connected the keyboard to a Windows PC and a couple of Android devices in addition to the Mac Mini. In all situations it worked well, although the lack of a Windows key was a bit of a drag, and obviously things like the sound and eject keys didn’t work properly on non-Apple devices.
What’s good to know is that the K760 can be paired with three separate Bluetooth hosts at any time, switch-able using the switch keys at the top of the board. You get an LED indication showing you which device is active at any time, and switching to another device is as easy as pressing the appropriate button and ensuring that your host device is ready to connect.
Some users may struggle with the selection keys being so close to the number keys and the escape key, but in practice I personally had no issues. In fact, the keys generally feel well spaced and the action is more or less on par with that of the official Apple Bluetooth keyboard.
I set out looking for a different keyboard for my Mac Mini based upon the fact that the official keyboard was too expensive. By that criteria alone I failed in my search because the K760 is actually more expensive, with an RRP of £69. Look around, though, and you’ll find the K760 available for less than £55, which does make it cheaper than Apple’s offering. What’s more, the K760 doesn’t use AA batteries, so you’ll be saving yourself at least £10 per year in battery costs, much more than that if you plan to use it for more than a couple of hours per day.
What I like about the K760, is that if you took the Logitech logo off you’d swear blind that it was sold with the Mac Mini. The materials, design and build quality all are close to being on par with the official Apple keyboard, although the plastic back of the K760 shows that it’s been built to a budget.
That being said, the use of plastics on the back of the casing means that the K760 feels lighter and less cold than the Apple keyboard, which I actually prefer. It also sits slightly flatter on the desk than the Apple keyboard, which offers a more comfortable typing position (for me anyway). On the subject of comfort, neither this keyboard or the Apple offering have any form of height adjustment on the back, which will definitely deter some users. What I would say is that this type of keyboard is probably of more use to home users on their sofas rather than an office worker who types 80 words per minute. If that’s what you’re looking for, and you don’t want to shell out on baskets of batteries, then you should definitely consider the K760.