Sometimes, just sometimes, the difference between two keyboards is quite subtle and truly down to the fingers of the beholder. What someone finds strong and reliable, the next person will find loud and clacky. This time, though, there is a very apparent and clear difference between this Logitech K480
and the K380 model that we've previously enthused about
. The K480 must surely be 100 somethings better than the K380.
It isn't. It's at most one something better but that's good. For the K380 is an exceptional Bluetooth keyboard and we say that fully aware that, come on, it's just a keyboard. Yet it matters hugely and we mean it as a fine compliment that the K480 is as good as the K380. It's just different.
Actually, there are a fair few small differences but the big and striking one that matters is that the K480 comes with a hole. It's more of a channel, really, a long trench across the top which is where you can slot your various devices in. If you want to write on an iPad, pop that into the slot. If you want to use your iPhone, pop that into it instead. If you want to switch to your Android device, well, how many devices have you got? If it's three, you're in luck: the K480 can pair to three different Bluetooth devices and swap between them with a twist of the control knob.
We prefer the K380's way of doing this: instead of a knob you just three buttons on the top row of the keyboard. It's really personal preference: we like that you can stab at buttons to change devices while barely breaking your typing stride. We do occasionally, though, need to look to see which device we're connected to: there should be a light above the currently-active button on the K380 but it sometimes switches off. With the K480's twist control, you always know which device you're connected to.
Well, on either keyboard you know that you're connected to device number 1, 2 or 3: remembering which one you set as your phone and which your iPad is another matter. Maybe we just change our three devices around too much but we do find remembering is a problem.
That would be because we like these keyboards, though, and we like using them on an iPhone, two different iPads and an Apple TV. Get us. The only one of these that you can't pop into the K480's slot is the Apple TV or indeed your television set, otherwise this can take just about anything.
Almost. If you have an Apple Smart Battery Case on your iPhone, you have to remove it. If you have an iPad Pro then you can just about slot it in if you position the iPad in portrait but it really doesn't feel safe doing that. It's surprisingly solid and stays firm in the keyboard but we're expecting a gust of wind to upset it and us soon.
Similarly, you can position an iPad Air in it in a portrait or vertical direction but it feels the safest and the most reliable if you put your devices in landscape or lengthways. That does present an issue sometimes, though: if you put an iPhone into the slot then you'll find that the lip of that trench can obscure the bottom line of an app.
You don't have to use the slot at all: there is no connector in it it, the slot is purely a slot. That means you can still type on your devices even if you leave the phone or iPad on your desk. That does rather negate the value of the slot and if you did that all the time then we'd strongly recommend the slotless K380 instead.
For in providing a slot wide enough to be practical and deep enough to be strong, there have been some other physical changes made to the keyboard and it's arguable whether they're good or not. The chief one you could dislike is that the keyboard is bigger than that of the K380 and therefore it's also heavier. We expected to find that an issue, as we're wedded to chucking the K380 around in our bags, but even though you can't mistake the difference holding them both, the K480 remains a light and portable keyboard.
It also takes advantage of the extra size to give keys that feel like they have a slightly greater travel, a deeper feel to your typing and that's oddly enjoyable even if you're used to Apple's new incredibly shallow Magic Keyboard. The spacing of the keys is the same so it's a true full-size keyboard and if you swap between it and the K380 or another regular one, your fingers just type without mistake. Yet each individual key is slightly wider and therefore more comfortable. The K380 has round keys which still look peculiar to us every time we glance down; honestly, if we weren't touch typists we'd be thinking this couldn't be a good keyboard.
As we are touch typists and as we clearly obsessed with the keyboards we use, we're now slightly torn. We've called the Logitech K380 our reference keyboard before, it's the one we consciously and unconsciously compare everything else to, and now we have a contender. The K480 is maybe even a little more solid and strong; we have used the K380 with a desktop computer but we can see us using the K480 on one for much longer periods. Assuming we could wedge an iMac into that slot.
If you put the two in front of us, the fact that we happen not to use the slot very often and especially that we happen to use external keyboards to type on an iPad Pro means that we would still go for the K380. Yet we slightly lust after the keys on this K480. Stop looking at us like that: you've just read to the end of this long examination of a keyboard, you're as bad as we are.
The Logitech K480 retails for $50 but is typically available from Amazon for around $36
In either black or white. By comparison, the K380 usually costs around $30
in either black or blue.
Who is Logitech K480 keyboard for:
Writers or anyone who types on their iPad and iPhone enough to warrant getting an external keyboard. If you just fancy getting an external keyboard, don't spend any time trying to justify the purchase, just focus on slot or no-slot and buy either the K480 or the K380.
Who is Logitech K480 keyboard not for:
If you don't travel or especially if you don't ever have to write on multiple different devices, then you wouldn't get the benefit of this.
-William Gallagher (@WGallagher
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