Content consumption using media-streaming set-top boxes (STBs) and home theater PCs (HTPCs) has seen an uptick in recent years. Even as 'cord-cutting' becomes more and more popular, STBs from service providers are also becoming quite interactive. Remote controllers are bundled with all OTT (over-the-top) boxes and Android media streamers, and Media Center remotes are common for HTPCs. However, these limited-function remotes become cumbersome to use as media consumption becomes more interactive (for example, consumers explicitly searching for a movie to play on Netflix).

In our 'Interacting with HTPCs' series, we have been presenting results from our evaluation of devices fulfilling a majority of the criteria below:

  • Wireless operation and optimal sizing (neither the mini- varieties which make typing with large fingers difficult, nor the full-sized combos which come with separate keyboard and mouse units)
  • Integrated touchpad or trackball
  • Good ergonomics and keyboard layout amenable to single-handed operation (common in HTPC scenarios)
  • Adaptability to occasional prolonged typing / computer interaction tasks
  • Acceptable build quality

Availability of a sleep mode for prolonged battery life, 5 GHz communication frequency (instead of 2.4 GHz), integrated rechargeable batteries and support for fancy gestures (in the case of touchpad keyboards) are some of the nice-to-have features. Obviously, given a particular device, some or all of these features have to be traded off for an acceptable price point.

The Logitech K400 is a gold-standard in the HTPC keyboard arena. Its popularity stems from a combination of its feature set and pricing. We looked at it in detail in our first review in the 'Interacting with HTPCs' series. Unfortunately, despite its popularity, the keyboard does have a few drawbacks with respect to ergonomics and key placement. It is challenging to use for extended typing duties. With a better budget, would it be possible to improve the HTPC interaction experience? On the other hand, are there any acceptable alternatives at a lower price point?

In today's piece, we will be looking at four different options with MSRPs ranging from $15 to $100.

  1. Logitech K830 Illuminated Living-Room HTPC Keyboard (MSRP of $99.99)
  2. Logitech TK820 Wireless All-in-One Keyboard (MSRP of $99.99)
  3. Perixx PERIBOARD-716 Wireless Touchpad Keyboard (MSRP of $25)
  4. Perixx PERIBOARD-706 PLUS Wireless Trackball Keyboard (MSRP of $15)

We will first take a look at the features offered by each of these keyboards in detail along with some usage impressions. This will be followed by the comparison of the pros and cons of each of these units on a single page. Note that most of the aspects presented in keyboard reviews are subjective and dependent on the test environment. For example, even the wireless range may vary from one test location to another because the 2.4 GHz channel being used might exhibit interference issues under certain conditions. This could result in improper functioning and range issues. All the four keyboards being considered today are RF-based and operate in the 2.4 GHz band with an advertised range of 30 ft (under ideal conditions). We will not be covering the range factor any further in this review.

Logitech K830 and TK820
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  • Mushin - Friday, May 15, 2015 - link

    I have an older model of this Lenovo Keyboard and find the Trakpoint superior to a Touchpad and/or Trackball
  • Yoo - Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - link

    I have microsoft keyboard N9Z-00001 and I am looking for another wireless keyboard like k830 and tk820. Because MS keyboard dosen't have 'home' and 'end' key. Even software can not set up these function. MS keyboard set up soft ware only set few functions. mostly not necesary for using PC. If you use MS keyboard for Smart TV, It could be good choise. Cheap, bettery last long, sturdy, light. But When you use this for PC, you will find another keyboard. Think about how many times you need to use 'Home' and 'End' button. Also difficult to use 'Screen cap' function. You can only customize for 'f4' and another 3buttons(4 buttons) but each button can be customized for specific functions..(sorry for my poor english). and still 'FN' key set up is very bad.
  • superflex - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    Funny how my Logitech MX1000 mouse from 2004 is still working fine and lasts over a week between charges.
    I think I paid $60 for that overpriced piece of junk.
  • Beaver M. - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    Back then Logitech actually still had quite a few good products in that branch. I still have a MX510 from 2004. Nowadays... not so much.
  • Beaver M. - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - link

    A HTPC keyboard without backlight = no-go.
    But I really dont get your guys arguing over this. There are enough very good keyboards for HTPCs out there. I am using a mini one from Rii. It has been working for 5 years now, 4.5 years longer than my Logitech diNovo Mini.
  • Aikouka - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    One of my favorite HTPC input devices is the Gyration media remote. The only huge downside is that it isn't made anymore, and it commands a hefty price tag on eBay -- upwards of $75 and in varying condition. Its advantage is that it can serve as a WiiMote-like mouse, which is nice when you end up back on the Windows desktop.

    Of course, that's not a keyboard. I've always been a bit fond of Logitech's PS3 Media Board as a HTPC keyboard. It uses Bluetooth, so it works great with a USB port-starved device like the NUC. Although, BT devices don't work outside Windows, which means you need another keyboard for BIOS tweaking. Also, since the keyboard was designed for the PS3, it lacks a Windows key. For my normal HTPC (not a NUC), I'm using a K400. Typing isn't much fun, but it works.
  • SleepModezZ - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard would probably be a contender as well. I prefer to type with it, compared to the Logitech K400. On the other hand, I prefer the Logitech because it has normal function keys and, with the help of the Fn-modifier, it is also possible to press the Print Screen key, which functions as the sys req key in Linux distributions.

    The Logitech models reviewed here seem to be similar to the Microsoft keyboard, regarding the above mentioned design choices. The Microsoft keyboard could be a good and less expensive alternative for them.
  • mathew7 - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Well, the article says about fullsize being a requirement, but I still prefer the Lenovo N5902 for HTPC. The main reason is one-handed mouse operations with KB fallback (like when you need to type a movie name). My only problems: no BT option and the finger tracking has some issues (didn't think of finding a pattern, like maybe damp fingers, but just be specific, I keep away food-dirty fingers)
  • at80eighty - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    One of the main issues I face while interfacing with my Kodi box, is struggling to type in a darkened room.

    Yet to come across a decent backlit HTPC keyboard
  • icrf - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I've been a fan of the Logitech Dinovo Mini (it goes by a few names) originally made for the first Google TV or something. Cost about $50, very small, passable keyboard and mouse, backlit, flip cover turns device off when closed, rechargeable:

    For an HTPC used as a media center, it's great. I wouldn't want to do a lot of work on the thing, but it's an HTPC, so I shouldn't be doing that, anyway. It's enough to get into some deep OS settings menu and muck about if needed, but at home if you mostly just want arrow keys and enter, and hitting a single letter. If you're looking for gaming or productivity, look elsewhere.

    Really, the only thing better I've seen is the Boxee remote that D-link did, but it died with the box and wasn't backlit.

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