Date: December 19, 2011
Author(s): Rob Williams
Looking for a new keyboard on the cheap, but would love to go wireless? Enter the K360 from Logitech. Sporting a compact design, the K360 offers a reliable wireless connection and is touted as being able to last up to three years on a single set of batteries. It’s not perfect, but at $20, it’s impossible to go wrong with this keyboard.
A lot can be accomplished in three years. You could start a business, get married, have a child, build a house, watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy and walk across the entire United States. Or for the less ambitious, you could simply photograph yourself everyday.
However you plan to spend your next three years, you can be confident of one thing: your Logitech K360 wireless keyboard will be on the same set of batteries through it all. At least, that’s Logitech’s claim, and from using the keyboard the past couple of months, I have no reason not to believe it.
It can be said that an office keyboard is just an office keyboard, but that’s not the case. I was at a Walmart a few months ago and spotted a $12 Logitech keyboard on the shelf, and thus figured it’d be a great purchase to tide me over until I could settle on a new gaming offering. For that $12, I received a solid keyboard, but the design was lacking and void of media buttons.
It’s too bad that I didn’t know about the K360, a once-$30-but-now-$20 offering that does include media controls, is completely wireless and is said to last an entire three years on a single set of batteries. Wait – a wireless media keyboard for $20? That’s right.
I highlighted the important bits above, so for the rest of the page we’ll take a tour around the K360 and discuss its design and features. First and foremost though, it must be said that this is a small keyboard; most others will be at least 20% wider. I don’t exactly have the smallest of hands, so at first the keyboard’s size was a little difficult to get used to, but as I mentioned above, I’ve been using this for two months, so you could say I’ve gotten used to it.
As seen in the shot above, the K360 is simple in design overall. Unlike a standard Logitech office keyboard, this one minimizes the amount of space between the keys and the inside, so getting it dirty on the inside with food crumbs or other dirt is going to be minimized. This design results in a different feel but an overall good one – it’s most comparable to a laptop keyboard although it is a bit louder than most of those. A close-up:
Looking at the keys this way offers an interesting perspective. While they may look a wee bit too high above the plane (at least to me), they’ve for the most part felt perfect. If anything, I wish they were a bit quieter to type on, but that’s a minor niggle in the grand scheme of things. The K360 isn’t loud by any stretch (it’s on par to a regular keyboard, I’d say), but with this design I expected it to be a bit quieter.
To the top-left are three media functions; previous/rewind pause/play and next/fast-forward:
On the opposite side are three more buttons, all related to volume control. As this is a wireless option, there’s a button to turn the K360 off if you wish to save as much battery as possible. The keyboard does not go to sleep, so it’s ready whenever you are. As a sub-$30 offering, it seems petty to complain about the lack of a “Stop” media button, but it is one I wish was included, because I’ve often needed it.
Because the K360 features a compact design, not all of the key arrangements are going to please everyone. If you make use of the arrow keys often, the non-standard size of the keys is likely to drive you up the wall. It’s a rare day when I actually need one of these, but when I did (to move through a document with precision), I found myself hitting the wrong keys by accident without looking – so for some, using these might be a hands-on endeavor.
The F1-F12 and numpad top buttons all feature alternate functions that can be used in conjunction with the “FN” (Function) key. Similar to most notebooks, you must use the FN key along with another key in order to screenshot your desktop (Print Screen). All of the functions for F1-F12 can be customized.
The K360 takes advantage of two AA batteries (thanks, Logitech, for not making them AAA), which happen to be included. As the keyboard makes use of a small USB wireless adapter, it can be stored in the free area here in the event you need to travel with it.
Speaking of, here’s the adapter in all its super-small glory:
You won’t be pulling a muscle lifting this thing out of the box, but it’s obvious that with its small size, it’s going to be easy to lose. There’s no easy solution there, so my advice is quite simply: don’t lose it!
On the next page, we’ll take a look at the SetPoint software used to configure the K360 and also close things up with my final thoughts.
Logitech doesn’t include software for its K360 in the box (at least, I didn’t receive a disc with our sample), but it can be easily downloaded from the company’s website through its support section. Not putting a disc in the package for a peripheral seems to be becoming an on-going trend, but it’s not a bad one. Less discs mean less waste, and going to the website directly assures you’ll be using the latest version of the driver.
While official support doesn’t exist with this keyboard outside of the Windows OS, I can state that the K360 works just fine under Linux (and I assume OS X would be no different). Logitech has never released SetPoint for Linux, so customization of each function button will be left up to your desktop environment, but out of the box the media controls worked just fine for me – at least with Clementine.
Once installed and opened, the SetPoint software for some reason defaults you to the “Tools” section rather than the overview of the keyboard. Here, you can peruse various support options, configure your status indicators (on-screen displays), enable automatic updating and so forth.
Moving things over to the “My Keyboard” section, you’ll be greeted first to the F key configuration. It’s called the “F Key” configuration because the four functions found atop the numpad buttons cannot be configured, as they are considered system standard. F1-F12 can be configured just fine however with a variety of different functions; straight key presses, the opening of a specific webpage, keystroke assignment and so forth.
For a budget keyboard, the flexibility here is quite good, and in all my tests, the results of configuring each setting resulted in responsive execution when the key was pressed. My F2 key, which shows a letter e-mail icon above it, is set for use with Gmail, so whenever I hit it, a new tab opens up in my Web browser leading me straight to Gmail. It’s simple things like these that can make a keybaord a lot more enjoyable to use.
Another nice touch can be seen below:
Never use the CAPS lock key? Hate being booted out of a game because you accidentally hit the Windows key? Don’t know what the Scroll Lock key does and don’t care? You can disable all of these along with the Insert and Num Lock key to make sure that none of them will ever be hit by accident. As someone who does often hit some of these keys by accident, I love this.
There is one caveat, however. If your OS or an application for some reason changes the state of one of these keys, then you will likely have the key act in the opposite way that you want to. During my testing, I was working in a virtual machine and somehow my Num Lock state was reversed. I was confused for a bit until I realized the reason why. This is a simple thing to happen and is certainly not Logitech’s fault, but it’s something to be aware of in case you also run into a similar problem and are left baffled.
In the run of a month, we have thousands of dollars worth of products stream through our lab, but it’s with this mere $20 keyboard that I’m ultimately left very impressed with. As mentioned in the intro, I purchased a $12 Logitech keyboard a few months ago, and at the time I thought that was stellar pricing (and well, it still is). But here’s a wireless offering that’s reliable, long-lasting and capable (I am still talking about the K360, right?) and it costs a mere $20.
At first, I found the K360 difficult to use due to it’s small size, and while I ended up getting used to it over a couple of days of use, I wouldn’t expect everyone to like it the same after they break it in. If I could give an example of the keyboard’s size, it’s very similar to the keyboard found on a 15″ notebook – or in the case of the just-reviewed ASUS G53SX, it’s almost the exact same size. The keys are just a smidgen smaller on the K360.
Mirroring this initial weariness was my mother. She took one look at the K360 and thought it was too small, and was even impressed that I could get used to it. But now she has her own and loves it. As long as you are not totally set in your large keyboard ways, using the K360 can become like second nature.
In the two months I’ve been using the one here, I’ve spent over one hundred hours gaming and probably fifty hours of straight typing. In all that time I didn’t find too much to dislike, but there are still some small issues to mention.
First, like other budget keyboards, there are certain key sequences that will not spell out properly if you type them out too fast. One example is “dictionary”, where the “r” will not show up. All other words I discovered that did this (such as “hard”) involved the “r”, so there’s something going on with that side of the keyboard. That said, the problem lies with specific sequences at fast typing speeds, and in typing out this entire review I didn’t encounter an issue like this.
The other problem is a potential one. If your USB ports are overloaded with other peripherals or devices, you risk the chance of suffocating the bandwidth available to the K360. When I first received the keyboard, I had three external hard drives plugged in, a microphone, a mouse, an Xbox 360 gamepad wireless adapter and the USB cable running to my monitor. While this should be fine in theory, there were times when my typing on the K360 would become super-laggy. After cluing into the problem, I unplugged one of the hard drives and the problem ceased to exist.
All-in-all, the K360 is an amazing value for the dollar. It’s proven very reliable, has what looks to be a true 3-year battery life (after two months of a lot of use, my battery still shows full), has a smart design and does well to remove one more wire from your PC. Best of all – if you use another current Logitech wireless device, you’ll be able to share the USB adapter between them, also freeing up another USB port. It goes without saying that this is worthy of an Editor’s Choice award. The K360 is the very definition of “great value”.
Logitech Wireless Keyboard K360
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