Review: Logitech Elite Keyboard

Gone is the day when human interface meant only inputting text into a (September 30th, 2002)

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Product Manufacturer: Logitech

Price: $49

The Good

  • Good feel, neat features, great OS X support

The Bad

  • No USB-hub capabilities

These days, a keyboard isn't just a keyboard.

Absolutely none of today's cheap, mass-produced or OEM keyboards harken back to the legacy of "clicky," quality-built keyboards of the late 1980s and early 1990s built for years and years of reliable service. Gone is the day when human interface meant only inputting commands into a command line. With the introduction of the mouse came degradation in keyboard quality, and recently, it's been showing. Cheap rubber-dome keys in plastic construction is now the standard. Instead of devices entrusted to total system control, keyboards have been reduced down to mere objects of text input, and people are even vying to oust them in entirety with voice and handwriting input technologies. It's only natural that people are ever more willing to skimp out on keyboard quality. Sometimes, one has to defy what's good enough for "anyone" else and defy the status quo; sometimes, one has to just want more! Sometimes, what works, just doesn't work for us. Why else are we discerning Mac users?

It's a good thing Logitech took notice of us, demanding consumers, and continued to uphold its tradition of manufacturing quality input peripherals with the release of its new Elite Keyboard.

What's In the Box

In addition to the keyboard itself, included in the Logitech Elite Keyboard's box are a PS/2 adapter cable and an optional plastic wrist wrest.

Construction and Feel

While the Elite Keyboard is very light, its construction is also (ironically) very solid.

Keyboard feel can only be judged by discerning individual preference. The Elite Keyboard combines a defined key touch with firm tactile response and a quieter "click." The keys are well-spaced, and the zero-degree tilt of the keyboard is comfortable for long periods of use. The rear of the keyboard may be elevated by plastic feet, and an attachable plastic wrist rest is included.

Drivers

Without the driver package available on CD or at the Logitech support website, the "option" key is recognized by the computer as the "Apple/command" key, and only basic keyboard functions work. However, with Logitech's OS X driver, the "Logitech Control Center," operation and device management becomes transparent.

Not only is the Control Center functional for both keyboards and mice, every button on the keyboard can be assigned to any function, and the pre-assigned actions are useful right out of the box. For example, "Search" is logically preset to Sherlock, and "My Home" opens the current user's OS X "home" directory. The volume wheel works intuitively, and the scroll wheel, "forward," and "back" functions leave nothing to be desired. Logitech even included a nifty uninstaller to completely remove the "Logitech Control Center" should you ever want/have to uninstall the keyboard.

One-way Street

Wait, wait... Something's wrong with this keyboard? Ahh, perhaps if anything, it would be the $49 Elite Keyboard's lack of USB ports (I could conceivably run out of those); it should at least include a built-in, two port USB hub like the Macally iKey, Microsoft Internet Keyboard, and Apple Pro Keyboard.

Identity Crisis

It wouldn't be true if I told you this was really just a wonderful Mac keyboard trapped in a PC keyboard's body (the Windows key art is there). Neither would it be true if I told you Mac compatibility seemed like an afterthought (the driver support is awesome!). It's not completely obvious this was ever meant to be a Mac or PC keyboard specifically; the "command" key is in the right place, yet it shares the same spot with the Windows-only "Alt" function, the "Windows" key shares a spot with "option," and the Windows "Menu" key is completely useless on a Mac. Despite it all, keyboarding on the Mac OS is seamless and definitely not a problem.

Conclusion

I've come to accept this quirky keyboarding reality. However, with its distinguishing aesthetically-pleasing "quiet-yet-clicky, I-could-really-learn-to-type-on-this" key touch, time-saving function keys and scroll wheel, it's not hard to justify $49 on this keyboard. Should you need a fully-featured replacement keyboard and don't mind losing a USB port, the choice is clear!

by Sean Yepez


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