Nomads seeking a compact, capable keyboard and mouse set should check out Logitech’s dynamic, yet elegant bluetooth duo.
With a Roost laptop stand en-route, I needed a bluetooth keyboard and pointer set that would travel well. Bluetooth’s advantage is that it doesn’t require a USB dongle – which makes life with a MacBook Pro much easier!
I’m an Apple-addict and love using trackpad gestures for graphic design and navigation, so Apple’s new Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Keyboard 2 seemed an absolute no-brainer.
However, $400 for a keyboard and trackpad seemed excessive (even by Apple’s standards), so I looked around and found Logitech’s K380 bluetooth keyboard kept topping reviews – and for only $60!
When I discovered the K380 can instantly switch between three bluetooth devices (including the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV), the $140 Apple Magic Keyboard started to look less appealing – especially for slinging in a rucksack.
However, I remained uneasy about using a mouse – but figured that at $30 for Logitech’s M337 bluetooth mouse (and therefore $90 for the Logitech set), there was little to lose.
The K380 impressed me with its compact form before I even opened the box – which itself, was smaller than many keyboards I’ve used. The packaging was minimal and cardboard, just the way I like it – unlike the M337’s plastic box!
I’m surprised that the K380’s robust design, reassuringly solid build and great non-slip rubber feet aren’t more widely mentioned in reviews – they please me every time I use it.
The keys take some adjustment, as they’re circular and close together – although have a satisfying, mechanical feel.
My only gripe is that ‘enter’ is next to the single quotation key (not the more rarely used backslash, as with most keyboard layouts) – so I’ve accidentally sent half-written Facebook messages on a few occasions.
The K380’s bluetooth switching works seamlessly; near-instantly switching to my iPad – which opens up possibilities for mobile use (in conjunction with my Satechi R1 stand).
Both items have solid power buttons which (unlike many keyboard/mice products) look suitable for lugging around; and connect quickly once powered-up.
I was tempted by the Logitech K480, which adds an inbuilt iPad slot – but it’s significantly larger and heavier, which couldn’t be justified by the rare occasions that I’d want to use my keyboard with my iPad in a location without sufficient space for my iPad stand (maybe a plane? Not worth it).
Aside from the K380’s satisfying build quality, its buttons are Mac-friendly – with shortcuts for Expose and Launchpad across the top, plus Windows/Mac key definitions (Start/Opt and Alt/Cmd) where appropriate.
The M337 mouse is comfortable, accurate and has an additional button below the scroll wheel that opens the MacOS window selector – which is useful, in the absence of a four-finger trackpad swipe.
The K380 comes in blue/blue and grey/yellow, while the M337 comes in four colour schemes. Unfortunately, the slick black/white mouse doesn’t have a matching keyboard scheme – although it sits OK with the grey/yellow model.
When travelling, the keyboard slips into my Da Kine Heli Pro rucksack next to the laptop, with a barely noticeable footprint; while the mouse pops into my front compartment. Roost’s ‘RKM’ bag for a keyboard and mouse is out-of-stock and Logitech don’t make one – so I may have to go third-party for one.
Logitech’s ‘Options’ software allows for tweaks, although the standard shortcuts make most sense for me. The software also allows you to set the mouse scroll wheel to the logical direction, without having to inverse the trackpad – unlike firmware for mice on MacOS that I’ve used previously.
While I planned to briefly explore life without trackpad gestures, my new Roost laptop stand places my MacBook Pro at the perfect angle for trackpad access.
I’m now enjoying a hybrid setup, with the accuracy of a mouse (great for graphic design) combined with trackpad gestures for changing windows and zooming – with minimal disruption or movement.
On reflection, the Apple magic keyboard and trackpad would have been a poor purchase; unnecessarily giving me a second trackpad, a keyboard with no bluetooth fast-switching and a pristine white finish just begging to get scuffed – for four times the price!
The Logitech K380 and M337 is a tough, comfortable keyboard and mouse set that it’s hard to find fault with, aside from a slightly tight layout and arguably mismatched colour schemes – although an official case would really show they’ve committed to the digital nomad scene.
Combining this keyboard and mouse with a Roost laptop stand gives MacBook Pro users – in my opinion – a trio of interaction tools that will be difficult to beat in terms of quality, flexibility and footprint.
And for $90, what have you got to lose?