It’s really hard to get excited about a keyboard these days, especially a minimalist one. Drool is usually reserved for those battle-station keyboards with LCDs, interactive buttons and rocket science ergonomics. Yet here we have the Logitech K750, a wireless keyboard that doesn’t offer much in terms of beefy features yet still makes us giddy with its design and promise of theoretically infinite battery life. Our friends over at Logitech hooked us up with a Mac version of the Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 to review and to see for ourselves why it was being so prominently showcased at the gdgt Live Chicago event. After a few weeks of running this keyboard through the ringer, did we end up sharing Logitech’s enthusiasm for this device?
The full sized super thin keyboard stands just a quarter of an inch tall when flat and one inch tall at its inclined position. It’s full sized, meaning it has a standard numerical keypad plus arrow keys and your Page Up/Page Down/Home/End/Insert/Delete button group. The top fourth of the keyboard is lined with an array of solar receptors to soak in all that delicious light it feeds on to stay alive. The front is covered with a sexy glossy back finish that unfortunately became quickly overridden with finger prints and smudges. Logitech provides a cloth to wipe down the keyboard with but you reach a point where wiping it down reaches obsessive compulsiveness in its frequency. The plastic white back is also a nice touch to the style of the keyboard, showing that Logitech really focused on making this device sexy and appealing. The two white legs on the rear extend to give the keyboard an inclined position for those that prefer to not type on a completely flat plane.
The keyboard uses Logitech’s Unifying nano-reciever, a tiny USB chip that you plug in to your computer which transmits on a 2.4Ghz wireless frequency that minimizes power consumption. Installation is a cinch as all you have to do is plug the receiver in and it installs itself automatically (for the Mac version, you have to download the Solar App from the Mac App Store). The range on the keyboard is excellent, ensuring that we could type without signal degradation anywhere within a 30 foot radius, enough to cover almost any typing situation. Aside from the solar panels on top of the keyboard taking in renewable energy, the 2.4Ghz transmitter also conserves energy by being bi-directional in its transmission. The USB chip that you plug in to your computer is always on, but the transmitter built in to the keyboard switches itself off when the computer is dormant. Power efficiency is what this keyboard was made for.
Tying on the K750 felt quite brisk and the low chiclet keys were most responsive. The keys were easy to push down on and they provided quite strong feedback when they elevated back to their resting position, hinting slightly of a typewriter-esque feel. Entering text felt very fluid and the key noise was minimal. After some usage time it became evident who this keyboard was not for: gamers and power typists. If you spend a lot of time doing keyboard-intensive tasks such as playing video games, coding, or authoring a novel, this keyboard is not for you. The straight-edge form-factor is not ergonomic at all, so long typing sessions will leave you with wrist cramps. The quick response keys might be good for gaming at first impression, especially since their low profile minimizes button mashing times by a certain fraction, but its super thin form factor makes this keyboard feel quite fragile. Button mashing is not advised because of this.
However, if your daily keyboard use is average (such as social media, emails, web browsing, spreadsheets, etc.) then this keyboard will be a trusty companion. It won’t tire you and it certainly won’t bore you when you type. To make up for the lack of multimedia and programmable keys, Logitech gave the Function keys dual capabilities. On the Windows version of the K750, features such as pause, play, volume controls, email, calculator, and more are assigned to the F1-F12 keys by first pressing the additional Function key located next to the right Control key. The Mac version has that same row of keys doubling with more Apple-familiar functions, such as screen brightness, eject, etc.
Eco-Friendly and Solar Power
Aside from the super slim form factor, eco-friendliness is the other big selling point of the K750 Wireless Keyboard. The packaging is 100% recyclable material and the only piece of paper found inside the box was the limited warranty pamphlet. Simple picture instructions are printed on the inside of the top flap and an easy URL is provided for a downloadable PDF file of a full instruction manual, should you need it. There is no additional excess material or packaging involved; Logitech went as minimalist as it could get with the packaging to go along with the minimalistic keyboard.
The solar panels that run across the keyboard are designed to soak in both natural and artificial light. This means that they keyboard can be powered regardless where you are: inside or outside. The power is stored in a rechargeable button battery found inside the keyboard. Should you ever be in a position where light isn’t plentiful, the battery can keep the keyboard running for a good amount of time. How much is a good amount? We left the keyboard on in complete darkness while we mashed away at the keys for a good hour and the charge barely budged. Even after leaving it inside a drawer for two days and three nights the charge was still at maximum. It’s safe to say that it would be almost impossible to ever drain the power on this keyboard.
To monitor your power consumption and charge, Logitech provides an on-screen app that you can access by clicking the designated charge button positioned above the numerical keypad. Not only does this button launch the app, but if you are not connected to a computer it lights up an LED next to either a happy face or a sad face to let you know roughly what level the charge is at. We got smiles from it every time and that made us smiled back. The Solar App, as it is called, displays a LUX meter to show you what level of light the keyboard is exposed to. The meter fluctuates depending on how much light is hitting the solar panels but even in a medium-lit room the meter was in the green.
In darker rooms it went down, sometimes to the red zone, but the battery indicator below kept us informed as to how much battery was being used up to compensate. If your night time computer usage occurs in darkness with only the glow of the monitor to make your keys visible, then the LUX meter will sink to 25 and below. However, minimal light at night, such as an overhead light or a lamp will keep the LUX meter around an acceptable 50. The battery will get you through the night and if you expose it to a few hours of light the next day, it will be fully charged and ready to go once more. In all of our tests we failed to get the battery life below 99% and believe us, we tried.
The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is a a true power-sipping wireless keyboard. Coupled by the fact that it continuously regenerates its power supply with any sort of real-world lighting situation you throw its way, you never will have to think about USB cable recharging or battery replacements again. We don’t dare to say that it is impossible to ever run out of power with this keyboard since some savvy reader will find some extreme circumstance to make it happen (blast it to space and position its orbit parallel to the dark side of the moon), but since we live in reality we were very hard pressed to find a realistic situation that could prove us wrong. The gorgeous design and fun typing experience makes this keyboard a serious contender for other wireless keyboards out there.
We are a bit concerned about the $79.99 price tag though (at the time of this article being published, the Logitech website lists a price reduction to $71.99) for the PC version of the keyboard. Logitech’s own Wireless Keyboard K350 uses the same 2.4Ghz wireless technology and USB nano-receiver, is ergonomic, provides a wide range of truly multifunctional and programmable soft and hard keys in a slightly thicker profile, and it provides a three year battery life running on two AA batteries that are included, all for the price of $59.99. Compare that to the K750’s steeper price tag and you have to ask yourself if the design and the few dollars saved on two more batteries over the course of 6 years is really justified by the $20 premium the K750 carries. This decision boils down to personal preference and personal opportunity cost.
The Mac version of the keyboard is priced at $59.99 which is the price we would have been more comfortable with when it comes to the PC version. However, we are unsure as to why a $20 difference in price exists between the two, as they are nearly identical except for a couple of extra buttons found on the PC version.
Don’t let the price overshadow all the other amazing qualities the K750 offers. Do we recommend it? Yes. Do we miss not using it? Hell yes. The K750 raises the bar for design, functionality, and power consumption when it comes to wireless keyboards. Logitech shows us that with some intelligent thinking you can cover all of your bases and still come out a winner, and the K750 is truly a winner in our book. Our only wishes for the next version of this keyboard would be a more ergonomic design, a matte finish, and a more reasonable price point but aside from those nit-picky details, don’t change a single thing!