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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  • Gigaplex - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Dinovo Mini came out 2008, Google TV was 2010.
  • bhaberle - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - link

    K830 has a very good backlit keyboard. At least I am able to use it with no issues. It automatically turns off the lighting after a few moments though. I am happy that it does since it saves battery, but I could see how it may bother other people. I am not sure if its an adjustable setting or not.
  • FH123 - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Do a Google image search on "Thinkpad travel keyboard". Thinkpad keyboards are often regarded as the best in the business, are they not? Personally I wouldn't look any further. Unfortunately, these days, the keyboards are squarely targeted at trackpoint users and don't feature a touchpad anymore. They do offer wired and Bluetooth options though.

    There is an older version with a larger palmrest, which might still be available, and an even older "Ultranav travel keyboard" that also includes a touchpad. I use the latter for my HTPC. It is sturdier than the later one, but you'll only get it on eBay now.

    I find the ones with the larger palmrest ideal for use on the lap (haven't tried the latest). The trackpoint is also great for gaming, with the probable exception of FPS "twitch" games. It's like a little joystick. You never run out of space compared to a touchpad.
  • mr_tawan - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Finally Logitech gets its layout right on HTPC keyboards. K400r was horrible in arrow-keys placement.
  • Samus - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    The stepped keys especially suck. The last OEM to manufacture stepped keyboards was HP (although they were actually made by Chicony) who discontinued using them after 2009, yet Logitech continues using them through the K4xx series. The K8xx are a huge improvement key-cap wise. But for the price you might as well just get a $25 Microsoft Media Keyboard with the same specs minus backlighting and AA batteries that last a year.
  • wymaan - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I don't mind the stepped keys so much as that right shift key. That thing is awful for a touch typist. Getting a ? mark into my work is brutal. Not something I thought about before buying.
  • colinstu - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Wish one of these had a numpad on it.
  • Samus - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    For a media center keyboard?
  • Sork2015 - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I own the Logitech TK820. The keyboard is awesome. The trackpad is awful. I often use the keyboard paired with a mouse because the trackpad is just useless.
  • Uxi - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I think I have had my logitech Dinovo Edge for over 10 years now. These new keyboards don't seem to be an improvement over my old champion.

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