by Jonathan Varga-Szabo on September 26, 2008 in Peripherals
Logitech’s diNovo Edge is undeniably a great-looking keyboard, but it’s also undeniably expensive. The new Illuminated Keyboard promises to deliver a lot of the same features, such as a thin frame, backlit keys, smooth key presses and a slick design – but for close to half the price of the Edge. Should you be getting ready to pick one up at launch?
Usage & Final Thoughts
Among the function keys on the keyboard, in the upper-right hand corner, there is a key with a light bulb on it. This controls the brightness of the backlighting, or turns it off. I found this especially useful, especially when leaving my computer on overnight, since the light can be distracting when you are trying to sleep, or whilst watching a movie.
There are four settings available: high, medium, low, and off. However, even when the backlighting is off, you can still see each key clearly. If you feel that the keys are too bright, you can set it to any of the settings to make it appeal to your eyesight.
That feature was very handy, specifically during the transition between day/night usage, where the “high” brightness level was used during the day to increase visibility, and the “medium” or “low” settings at night when my room was too dark to have a keyboard’s lighting glare at me. I sure wish I had the adjustable brightness function on my Razer Tarantula!
Using the SetPoint software to customize the function keys really helped in Firefox, and I can see the customized function keys coming in handy in a plethora of other applications. I set the “Home” key to open Firefox, the “E-mail” key to open Thunderbird, the “Search” key to open Google and a few others as Firefox functions like opening a new tab, or jumping between tabs.
The board even has an eject key, which borrows from the Mac. The usual Play/Pause, Skip Forward, Skip Back buttons are also there, and are great for video or music applications. I also really liked the font used on the keyboard, a semi-futuristic, slightly wider and blockier-than-usual type. You’ll also see that the Caps, Scroll, and Num Lock indicator icons are on the bottom of the keyboard, rather than the top, between the wrist rest and the number pad. If properly configured and customized, you’ll see your mouse usage decrease when using the keyboard with the function keys.
Logitech’s innovative PerfectStroke key system really helps set this keyboard apart from other desktop keyboards with laptop-style keys. Each keystroke feels very solid, but still soft and gradual, not ratchet, and without that slight rattling noise. Also, this keyboard is very quiet, due to the PerfectStroke key system.
The wrist-rest I mentioned earlier is also very useful, because of the soft-feeling anti-slip rubbery coating, which felt almost like a velvet or thin suede. The keyboard is very thin, and consequently, so is the wrist rest. While some see this as an issue, it felt much more natural to type on it rather than a thick bulky hand-rest.
On the back of the keyboard, there are two extendable “feet” that give the keyboard a better angle to type on. I did not use this function, but I can see how it may appeal to other typers. The bottom of the keyboard also has little rubber rectangular nubs on it which help the keyboard stay stationary on your desk.
Although not a gaming keyboard, I tried playing a few first-person shooters with it, and the keyboard performed surprisingly well. While the keys don’t feel like they should be “mashed” or stomped-upon by your fingers, the action of the keys were crisp enough that they provided a good overall gaming experience.
I really appreciated the minimalist design of the entire keyboard. Logitech was also able to include a number pad while staying away from a keyboard that feels bulky. The backlit keys are also very useful, and create a strong eye-appeal. The ability to control the lighting on the keyboard was even more to my liking, since backlighting can get annoying quickly, especially when you want to watch a movie in the dark or sleep.
The soft wrist rest and crisp, slightly shallow action of the keys makes typing comfortable on the hands. Customizable keys are very useful in my usage of the keyboard, and having them controlled by a separate function key keeps the keyboard uncluttered.
Although the keyboard felt steady as a rock on a table or lap, I am concerned about the durability of such a thin keyboard. I feel like I could snap it in half with my bare hands if I really tried, (not that I would want to). Since it is so long and thin, when held and twisted slightly, you can see the keyboard flex. It’s a bit heavy as well, so a good fall could easily either crack the keyboard or knock some keys off.
I’m also not sure if I really like the clear plastic bit that borders the keyboard. If it were modular or removable in some way, I’d be much happier. Lastly, the rubber coating on the wrist-rest, while comfortable, worries me. It feels great right now, but seems like the kind of coating that will “rub-off” after a while, and start to flake or peel. And because it’s anti-slip, it’s difficult to get any dust off with a swipe of the hand or cloth.
Aside from all that, I think the Logitech Illuminated Keyboard is an absolutely fantastic peripheral. It has everything I like in a keyboard – functionality, comfort, and looks. The backlighting on the keys is as good as I’ve ever seen. Although durability may seem like an issue, a careful user needn’t fret.
I’d love to see a wireless version of this keyboard come along, but as long as you’re not trying to use your computer from across the room, I don’t see the lack of a wireless interface as a problem. The Logitech Illuminated Keyboard is definitely a worthy addition to your desktop, and will keep you and your eyes comfortable for hours at a time.
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