Arcade Snowmew Of Doom
I have an XBMC based Home Theater PC hooked up to my TV and input has always been a tricky issue. In XBMC itself, just an IR remote works fine, but since this machine runs Windows 7 sometimes it needs maintenance and sometimes you just want to run a desktop application on it and then you need a keyboard. With this machine next to a TV and not at a desk or a table, pulling out a classic keyboard and mouse were a bit awkward. If you just want to use keyboard and mouse from your couch or a bed, itâ€™s even worse. I picked up the Logitech K400 looking to solve this issue.
What is it? Simply put, itâ€™s a laptop keyboard and touchpad without the laptop. Exactly what you need to for a living room or bedroom situation. I previously tried a cheaper device, the VisionTek Candyboard which was much smaller but tricky to type on, had no drivers for configuration and it broke after two months. Being a name brand product from Logitech, the K400 does a lot better than questionable Chinese designed crap like the Candyboard.
So, what do you get? Itâ€™s more or less a Netbook sized keyboard, but a bit larger and a typical laptop-esq touchpad to the right. The F row is comprised of media keys and you have to use the FN key to actually get the F keys to act as F keys instead of media keys. Clearly this keyboard was designed for multimedia applications first. The touchpad is responsive and the combination of FN+Left Click toggles touch pad â€˜tappingâ€™, with tapping being something I dislike, itâ€™s nice to be able to disable it without even needing the drivers. This also means that tapping can be toggled on any hardware regardless of driver support. Like a Netbook keyboard, they key layout needs a little adjustment too, due to things like the right shift key being fairly tiny or the Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys being combined with the arrow keys and needing the FN key to operate them. Itâ€™s a pretty ideal solution for Media PCs, laptops connected to a television, or even just for PCs where you want an all-in-one wireless keyboard that can be kept out of the way except when needed.
In addition to a traditional touch pad, thereâ€™s a secondary Left-Click button on the left side of the keyboard. This puzzled me at first but then I realized that it allowed me to hold the keyboard on both hands, like a gamepad, thumbing and right-clicking with the touchpad in my right hand and left-clicking with my left hand. This negates the need to put the keyboard on any kind of surface if youâ€™re just using the touchpad to navigate an interface.
Downsides? Lefties could have a problem with it. Itâ€™s small and some people may dislike a compact layout. While allowing it to be light and small, itâ€™s entirely plastic construction isnâ€™t likely to be the most durable. Finally, itâ€™s use in the BIOS seems limited depending on the machine. I canâ€™t explain this but others have reported issues with this keyboard as well, some machines canâ€™t use it as a generic USB keyboard before booting to the OS while others can. On my AMD Llano HTPC, the K400 is useless until the operating system starts but a Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 USB keyboard seems to work just fine. Yet on my Sandy Bridge laptop the K400 has no issue accessing and navigating the BIOS. I canâ€™t explain this issue as any USB keyboard should work out of the box in these situations.
At $39.99 Iâ€™d say this would be a great laptop who has the specific need for a â€˜Laptop keyboard without the laptopâ€™ like I do.