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Reviews > Logitech K480 Bluetooth Keyboard Review Logitech K480 Bluetooth Keyboard
can only think that amongst people who care about properly expressing
themselves, that today's proliferation of "too long; didn't read" and
barely decipherable texting abbreviations is perceived as a lamentable
state of affairs.
If you own a tablet, smart phone or another device that doesn't have a
proper keyboard available, a few minutes of using a severely condensed
or onscreen keyboard might have even the most passionate typist and/or
language aficionado seriously considering the use (shudder, gasp!) of
any abbreviation within three miles. I'm a fast typist (clocked during
my junior high years at somewhere around 40-65 WPM steady state, with
surges to 90 at times) and the feeling of having my thoughts slowed to
match what an onscreen keyboard can deliver is incredibly frustrating.
I know this because I have a Lenovo Ideapad Miix 10 tablet running
Windows 8.1. (My thoughts about Windows 8.1, the tablet in general, and
its competition in the marketplace are likely to come up in a separate
product review, even though that particular Ideapad model is long
I wanted to get a keyboard
folio with the Ideapad, but I bought it at such a late point in its
lifecycle that the Lenovo supplied keyboard folio seemed not to be
available for purchase any longer. In truth, it wouldn't surprise me if
the supply of keyboard folios was much less as compared to the supply
of tablets. I also wouldn't be surprised to find that the matching
keyboard folio existed only in the realm of theory. I've seen plenty of
that in the past--ask me sometime about the "TravelLite" module for my
Latitude D800. Per the Dell manuals, it existed. In reality, it didn't.
Only through a stroke of luck did I manage to get one after inquiring
of Dell's product support where I could find one. The person who
answered my inquiry apologized profusely and overnighted
one such module to me. I suppose this means that they were probably
mass-produced, although the one I have remains the only one I've ever
Getting back to my point, I did make a tiny effort to secure a third
party keyboard folio for my Ideapad tablet. Now, were it an iPad, there
would be dozens of choices. Unfortunately, it's not and the options
were basically nonexistent. I did find a Chinese seller on eBay
offering keyboard folios that were supposedly compatible and worked via
Bluetooth as opposed to using the special contacts built into the
tablet. Although it was an option, the listing photos suggested it was
cheap and would fall apart quickly. I passed, resigning myself to the
likelihood of never finding a suitable keyboard folio.
And then I found the Logitech K480 Bluetooth keyboard. While it's
possible to use this keyboard with any device supporting Bluetooth,
it's marketed especially toward use with tablets and cellular phones.
Instead of a folio design, the K480 is a flat, solid plastic keyboard
unit. A rubberized slot accepts your phone or tablet, and it seems
likely that even rather thick examples will fit into this opening.
Tablets up to 10 inches in width will fit into the slot, while larger
examples would have to be rotated into their portrait orientation to
I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. I might as well start from the
beginning, with the box.
The box illustrates how a phone can be placed into the rubberized slot,
even if it does look a bit silly.
You won't see too much inside the box. Documentation is only provided
via a link to the Logitech web site, while the included Duracell
batteries are installed for you. I thought the K480's fit and finish
seemed quite good. Nothing feels like it'll fall off or break easily.
There's really only the one problem with its design--placing your
tablet or phone into the slot is great once you're situated. It's not
so great when it comes time to move on. No locking mechanism other than
friction keeps your tablet or phone in place, and you can't fold it
down while keeping it docked in the keyboard. I found it impossible to
carry both a 10" tablet and the keyboard in one hand, and I make that
statement as someone who has rather large hands. You'll also have to be
sure to turn power off to the K480, otherwise it will probably wake up
your tablet and might mess up whatever you're working on if the screen
hasn't locked or no password is required to unlock it.
The previously mentioned Lenovo Ideapad Miix 10 tablet seemed to fit
very nicely into the K480's rubberized well.
...But Wait, There's More!
Logitech has designed the K480 Bluetooth keyboard with the
intention that you won't just use it for your tablet or phone input
needs. Looking at the keyboard reveals a dial switch that can be
rotated to any one of three positions. This switch lets you pair the
K480 with more than one Bluetooth capable device and, after you've
paired all of your devices, all you do is simply rotate the switch to
choose which one will receive input from the keyboard.
After removing a bit of tape that serves to isolate the batteries from
the rest of the keyboard, and turning the power switch near the battery
compartment to the "on" position, you are ready to pair the keyboard
with whatever Bluetooth capable devices you have. Turn the rotary
switch to whatever position you wish to use for a specific device, and
move your attention across the keyboard to the pairing buttons. Rather
curiously, there are two different buttons to be used for pairing the
device. Devices running Android, Windows or Chrome OS are to use the
button on the left hand side. Apple iOS devices, as well as those
running Mac OS X, are to use the button on the right hand side. There
is no explanation for the presence of two separate buttons that do
essentially the same thing. On the surface at least, Bluetooth pairing
should be a standard procedure across all platforms.
Newly unboxed examples of Logitech's K480 keyboard have a printed guide
indicating which pairing button is which. If you remove this sticker,
you're left with buttons that say "PC" and "I".
Rough Road Ahead
I'd like to be able to tell you that the K480 keyboard paired well with
every Bluetooth device I had available for testing. Besides the Ideapad
tablet, I also tested a 2009 era Macbook laptop running Mac OS X 10.6
and a Dell Latitude D800 running Windows 2000. Pairing with the tablet
was uneventful at first. Pairing with the Macbook proved to be
impossible, even after restarting both it and the keyboard. The Apple
Bluetooth configuration wizard could detect a keyboard in range. After
that, the wizard got stuck and never made it to the point where a PIN
would be entered on the keyboard. Logitech claims that the K480 is
supported clear back to Mac OS X 10.2.
In light of this behavior with Mac OS X 10.6, I did not expect pairing
with the Latitude D800 and Windows 2000 to go very well. That system's
Bluetooth stack is quite elderly (from around 2004) even with the
latest updates from Dell installed. Thus I'm rather pleasantly
surprised to say that Windows 2000 and the 2004-era Widcomm Bluetooth
software paired right up to the K480. Logitech's special software may
or may not work on Windows 2000, but the keyboard itself seemed to do
I have rather lofty expectations when it comes to keyboard quality. My
daily use keyboard of choice is an IBM Model M. Computer manufacturers
haven't cared about keyboard quality for years now, and neither do most
computer buyers. So don't worry if you don't understand why someone
would want to make a significant investment in a higher quality
keyboard, or use a keyboard that's 15-25 years older than their
personal computer. Some folks immediately gravitate to high quality
keyboards, others find it to be an acquired taste and some folks never
end up caring about the quality of their typing experience.
Making a blanket statement about how a given keyboard feels to the
touch is a difficult thing to do. The closest analogy I can think of
right away is that of clothing sizes. People come in all shapes and
sizes, and everyone has their own perception of what they like to wear
and what size it needs to be in order to fit "right".
I'm somewhere in the middle of the road when it comes to keyboards.
Given the choice, I certainly do use and appreciate higher quality
keyboards of all types, from bucking spring, to tactile switch to high
quality rubber dome models. Even so, if I'm confined to a computer with
a cheap rubber dome keyboard, I can get by. My typing speed won't be as
good, and I'll make more mistakes, but I will manage nevertheless. As
it is, and like I pointed out in the beginning of this review, my typing speed was last clocked at between 40-65 WPM during my
junior high and high school days. I could occasionally hit higher speeds and perhaps my average has increased since that time.
I'm pleased to say the Logitech K480 earns surprisingly high marks in
the area of key feel and feedback from me. The K480 is big enough to
actually touch-type on,
and none of the keys are so weirdly situated as to break your stride
when typing steadily. There actually is a decent amount of tactile
feedback as you type! I did a little test with the K480 paired to the
Latitude D800 and captured the result on a no-definition video (shot
with a Sony Cybershot DSC-P71, same as with the still pictures in this
review). You can watch my typing in the following embedded video.
More Clouds On The Horizon
I'd like to tell you that apart from the inability to pair this
keyboard with my Macbook laptop and Mac OS X 10.6, that the Logitech
K480 is a great product. It's got potential, but I'm afraid that the
firmware behind it needs a little more time in the oven.
In particular, I've noticed that while using the arrow keys to scroll
while browing the web from the Ideapad Miix 10 tablet, that either the
K480 or the tablet's Bluetooth hardware is (to use a technical term)
flipping out and losing the plot. Whatever's going wrong is severe
enough that Windows tags the Bluetooth radio as having been stopped as
a result of "causing problems". (The exact error message given is
"Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems.
(Code 43)". Looking this error message up would seem to suggest that
it's not an isolated incident, and it's unclear who should take the
blame in this case. Even though I suspect Lenovo's packaged drivers and
maybe even their Bluetooth hardware are not of the best quality, I tend
to think the K480 is to blame since it refuses to pair with my Macbook.
There does not appear to be any mention of updateable firmware for the
K480 at Logitech's site. I've not bothered to contact their support
staff to see what they think. Nor have I managed (yet) to trip the
issue through normal typing patterns. It's only come up after using the
arrow keys repeatedly to scroll through something.
Sorry to say, I think I'm going to return this keyboard to the store I
purchased it from.
"Clumsy" seems like a fitting description of the K480 and its firmware.
If you keep it at your desk and your devices happen to work with it,
you'll probably really like it. Typing feel is excellent, and the
ability to pair with more than one device is a great idea on Logitech's
part. I don't think it's really cut out for use on the go, and only one
of the three devices I paired it with actually seemed to work properly