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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  • Samus - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I know, it's laughable. The diNovo Edge continues after a decade to be the best HTPC keyboard and it hasn't even been in production for 5 years! When I see one refurbished or on eBay I snatch them up and they still command nearly $100 used because of how desirable they are.

    That was an era when Logitech was quality-focused. Look at the original G15 keyboard, G35 racing wheel, diNovo-series, and the amazing Z5450 THX-certified speaker system with the wireless rear channel speakers. Now they just make crap, it's like they're intentionally holding out because WE KNOW they can do better. They have.
  • BillyONeal - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I wouldn't exactly call the original G15 a high quality product considering I've had 2 die on me. YMMV
  • Samus - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I had the backlighting fade on mine in <2 years, but that's pretty normal considering it's on 24/7 and LED's are rated at 20,000 hours (9600 hours in a year?)

    It doesn't help they are blue, either. It'd be less noticeable they were fading if they were white.

    But I guess my point about the G15 wasn't so much quality (although that's what I said :\) but more about what it was: the first mainstream gaming keyboard of its kind. That LCD was my primary desk clock for years, and the Battlefield 2 plugin was amazingly useful, as were the macro keys. It was a great keyboard for what it was.
  • Gigaplex - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    The backlight doesn't turn off when the keyboard is idle? Poor design.
  • Samus - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    Lol. It was the first mainstream backlit keyboard, I don't think an led backlight timeout was on their minds. Besides, I've only ever seen backlight timeout on laptops or battery operated keyboards...
  • Gigaplex - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I've had mine and it saddens me that the touchpad is temperamental these days. I've been disappointed with the lack of quality alternatives to replace it. Guess I'll stick with it for now.
  • Gigaplex - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    That should read "I've had mine for about 8 years".
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I've run the intro and so I've seen the Logitech K830. I 'owned' this keyboard and, although it looks nice, feels nice, plus works as intended it's a really poor keyboard. I actually prefer the Surface Pro type keyboard and that's saying something.
  • SuperVeloce - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    So it ticks all the right boxes, but it's a poor keyboard. Can you elaborate?
  • peterfares - Monday, May 11, 2015 - link

    I have a TK820. I wouldn't recommend it because of the trackpad. It's very unreliable, worse than most bad notebook trackpads. The surface area is large which is nice, but it has too many false readings.

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