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Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 Review

The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 has a lot of nifty features. It has a built-in SmartPhone/tablet stand. The most innovative feature is that you can pair it with three different Bluetooth devices. And you can switch between the three devices with an analog knob on the left side of the keyboard. That means you can use this keyboard with a computer, a SmartPhone, a tablet, and any such combination.

It has a compact size that does away with the number pad. Compact keyboards like this one share similarity with keyboard on small laptops. If you are used to laptop keyboards, the Logitech K480 will feel right at home. If you are a right-handed mouse user, then doing away with the numeric keypad is a good thing. It's more ergonomic, because you can bring the mouse closer toward the center of your body. But if you are a left-handed mouse user, then it would be no different than a standard keyboard.

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The most important aspect of a keyboard is the keys. A keyboard may have all sorts of bells and whistles. But if the keys aren't responsive and tactile, then the keyboard is as good as paperweight.

At first glance, the Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 looks to have chiclet keys. But they are a cross between square and circle keys, whereas chiclet keys are square with round corners. Also most keys are concave down for resting your fingers, while the special keys are concave up for you to touch sense. The keys have medium length travel. The travel is long enough that they feel like normal key presses on a normal keyboard.

In most cases, the Logitech K480 keys work as expected for a compact keyboard. You can use function key (fn) with the arrow keys for HOME, END, PAGE UP, and PAGE DOWN. The only thing that takes a little getting used to is the Windows key that is actually labeled as "start", rather than with the familiar Windows logo. Also, Logitech has chosen to move the menu key to the "F3" key location and implement both ALT and CTRL next to the arrow keys.

Another important aspect of the Logitech K480 response rate is that I can feel no lag. As soon as I press the key, it immediately registers with my computer. This response is extremely important for gaming and doing work efficiently. I learned the importance of this response rate when I recently used the Motorola XOOM keyboard on my comouter with an approximate 1 second lag. I could do work on thr Motorola XOOM keyboard, but gaming is no go.

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Function Keys

Similar to other keyboard on the market, Logitech K480 places priority with its multimedia keys over function keys. Therefore, to activate a F1 through F12 key, you have to hold down the function key (fn).

I am on the fence with whether this is good or not. I have gotten quite used to pressing any function key with one hand.

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Bluetooth Pairing

Pairing the Logitech K480 keyboard involve two buttons on the top right corner of the keyboard. They are labeled "pc" and "i". Hold the "pc" button down for a few seconds until the blue light blinks rapidly to pair with Android devices--SmartPhones, tablets, etc.--and Windows/Linux computers. Do the same with the "i" button to pair with iOS devices--iPhones, iPods, etc.--and Macintosh computers. After that, the pairing process is the same as with any other Bluetooth keyboard.

I am so happy with this keyboard, that I have purchased several for myself and my family members. So far, we've paired it to numerous computers and SmartPhones and they've all been working flawlessly in my home.

In a large office environment, where there are many Bluetooth devices broadcasting, my Sony Xperia XA2 Android SmartPhone could not see the Logitech K480 keyboard during the pairing process. But after pairing the two devices together at home, I had no problem using the keyboard with the SmartPhone in the same large office environment.

My desktop computer at work doesn't have built-in Bluetooth, so I have installed a Bluetooth 2.0 dongle in the USB port. The desktop finds the keyboard right away during pairing. But everyday, there are one or two instances where the computer and the keyboard loses connection and it takes a bit of fidgetting to get the two to work again. I am not sure what is the root cause of this problem. But I have ordered a Bluetooth 4.0 dongle to see if it makes a difference.

The Onvian Bluetooth 4.0 dongle have arrived. Pairing has been a cinch with this adapter. So far, I have no issues using the keyboard with my work computer all day. The keyboard and dongle has worked together well for half a week. But this morning, when I come into work, the keyboad couldn't connect to the dongle. Re-inserting the dongle into the computer has allowed the two to connect. Maybe the Bluetooth interference is too high in this work area; the Bluetooth 4.0 may just have stronger signal.

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Device Switch Knob

The Logitech K480 has a rotary knob on the top left corner to switch between three Bluetooth devices. It has a retro steampunk look to the keyboard. It's fairly easy to switch between my computer and my SmartPhone. Connection to either device is automatic and almost instant.

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Battery Compartment

The battery compartment is on the bottom of the Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480. Slide the battery compartment cover to the right and it pops right off. The cover feels quite flimsy, but chances are you won't be opening/closing it too often.

The battery compartment holds two AAA-batteries. The specification says you need alkaline batteries, but we have found that rechargeable NiMH batteries work just fine.

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Power Switch

The K480 keyboard has a power switch on the bottom. But there is no on/off position indication. After some trial and error, we determine that when moved toward the left with a red indication mean it's turned off. When you push the switch to the right, it is turned on.

There is no real need to turn off the keyboard after daily work. The Logitech K480 is smart enough to shut itself off after a period of inactivity. Only time I really need to turn it off is if I carry it from one place to another in my backpack; to prevent pressing on any keys. The only other time is when a 2 year old toddler really wanted to play around with the keyboard.

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Battery Indicator

There is also a battery indicator on the bottom of the keyboard, next to the power switch. But being on the bottom of the keyboard means you will never see it. Therefore, we don't really know what it indicates, other than that it lights up for a short them when you turn on the keyboard. I'll write this indicator off as useless.

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SmartPhone and Tablet Stand

One interesting feature of the Logitech K480 keyboard is that it has a built-in SmartPhone/tablet stand. That means you won't have to carry a stand around when you carry this keyboard with you. The stand is fixed in place and has a fixed angle and a fixed width. Two issues comes to mind when I look at it. One, will the width fit all phones and tablets? Two, Will the viewing angle be perfect. Turns out the width is too narrow for my Sony Xperia XA2 SmartPhone with a rubber skin case. But it fits perfectly without the case. And the viewing angle of the display is perfect as well. I think it would have been better if it is wider to accomodate the phone case as well.

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Compare K480 to K380

Other than the physical form, the Logitech K480 and the Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K380 are practically the same keyboard. But the K380 is a much smaller and much more compact keyboard. The K380 a better choice over the K480 if compactness is important to you. Otherwise, the K480 is much more comfortable to use due to the long key travel. The key travel on the K380 is so short that it feels like you are tapping on hard cardboard. Although the key travel distance seems similar to a chiclet laptop keyboard, it's far more comfortable to type on most laptops than the Logitech K380 keyboard.

Other noteable difference is that the K380 has three device switch buttons, rather than a device switch knob on the K480. I prefer the three device switch buttons over the knob.

There is also no SmartPhone/tablet stand on the K380. So if your primary purpose is to use it with a SmartPhone or a tablet, then K480 may be a better choice for you. Of course, you can get an adjustable SmartPhone/tablet stand that would work well with the K380; you'll just have an extra gadget to carry around.

The power switch on the K380 is on the left side of the keyboard. Other than that, it's quite similar to the K480. The K380 also uses two AAA batteries and is compatible with both alkaline and rechargeable NiMH batteries.

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