My daily routine when arriving at the office entails taking a smartphone out of my pocket, unpacking an iPad, and turning on my MacBook Air. All of these devices are placed on my desk in a forever-changing arrangement.
As the day progresses and I receive various alerts and notifications, I find myself playing a game of musical devices. I jump from my phone to my tablet to my PC, jarring my muscle memory with every interaction, as each device has its own unique input method. It’s like a circus act. I’ve grown accustomed to it as much as a human can. You’re probably familiar with it, too.
The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 is a wireless gadget that lets you use one keyboard to type input into multiple devices. It works with iOS, Mac, Windows and Android devices. Switching between paired devices is done using the selection dial located just above the escape key. This is a nice change from many wireless keyboards made for use with just one device, like Logitech’s own keyboards for iPad.
Pairing the keyboard requires you to set the dial to one of three available positions, press a corresponding key for device type, and follow normal Bluetooth pairing directions on your device. The total time it took me to set it up—from opening the box to having paired the K480 with a Moto X, iPad Air and MacBook Air—was under five minutes.
Two AAA batteries come pre-installed in the keyboard. For those eye-rolling at Logitech and griping that the thing should have a rechargeable battery instead, allow me to remind you of the $50 price tag. Additionally, according to Logitech, the batteries in the K480 should last up to two years with normal “office usage” (the company calculates this at two million keystrokes per year).
When you want to swap from phone to tablet, you just nudge that dial. I was surprised at the speed the keyboard disconnected from one device, then connected to another. Any delays in the connection process were negligible, with the longest delay being experienced when connecting to the iPad. Of course, you’ll still need a mouse or a trackpad if you’re pairing it with a PC, since there’s no pointing device built in to the K480.
The key arrangement is designed for multiple operating systems, with split functionality for the likes of the “alt” and “cmd” keys for Windows and OS X, respectively. For mobile devices, the top row of keys offers shortcuts for the home and back keys found on Android and iOS devices, as well as media controls and a search key.
The shallow channel that runs just above the keys offers a cradle for either an iPad and smartphone in portrait orientation, or a single iPad (or similar sized tablet) in a landscape orientation. The viewing angle of any device placed in the channel isn’t adjustable, but I found it to be sufficient when working at both a sitting and standing desk.
It doesn’t lend itself well to portability. The keyboard weighs 1.81 pounds, and it’s 0.78 inches thick. You could carry it around, but it’s clear the thing is meant to stay at home at your desk.
My biggest issue with the K480 is the feel of it. I’m not talking about the key layout, which is quite spacious, or the travel on the keys, which is fine. Rather, the device is unabashedly plastic, and it feels cheap when you type. Each key press is confirmed not only by characters appearing, but also by a plasticky “click” sound from the keyboard itself. The sound was so distracting the first time I used the keyboard, I had to put on headphones to drown it out. I’ve grown more accustomed to the sound the more I’ve used the keyboard, and now it’s more of a background tittering.
As someone who works in an office of one, the clickity-clack ended up being a minor drawback. In a larger office, it’s level of annoyance would undoubtedly be magnified. That said, the K480 is a keyboard worth looking at if you’re in the market for one capable of connecting to multiple devices. Its quick setup process, OS versatility, and modest price all make it an appealing purchase.