Pros

Stylish; compact; provides some Windows 8 touch functionality

Cons

Software support is lacking; keys are under-sized, leading to difficult touch-typing

Star Rating

The K400

Description

The Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 is an ultra-compact keyboard with integrated touchpad. It measures just 5.9" x 15.8" by 1.2". While it's not quite evident from the photos, the K400 really has an excellent industrial design, especially for the price. Logitech seems to have taken a page from Apple's book, with very sleek lines, smooth surfaces, two-tone color (the bottom is white), and a handy storage slot inside the battery compartment for the tiny "Unifying" receiver. The K400 uses two AA batteries (included), and will almost certainly have excellent battery life, as with most modern wireless keyboards.

Features

The stand-out feature of the K400 is the touchpad. There's nothing particularly unique about it, but it's fairly rare to find touchpads on desktop keyboards, despite the obvious usefulness of a touchpad for Home Theater PCs, where a mouse, and more importantly, a mousing surface, is probably not close at hand. The touch pad has two buttons, as you might expect, and also responds to a few gestures: pinch to zoom, two fingers to scroll, and swipe from the right to engage the Windows 8 Charms bar. We did not find it to do anything when swiping in from the left, top, or bottom, despite claims in the manual that these gestures would bring up various Windows 8 features.

One simple but very welcome feature was a button on the left side that emulates the left mouse button. This arrangement allows you to hold the keyboard in two hands, as you might while sitting in a chair, and surf the Internet with just your two thumbs, almost like a big gamepad. It's thoughtful touches like these that show that Logitech's engineers know how to make good hardware.

Performance

Unfortunately, good hardware is not enough to make excellent products, and the K400 tends to disappoint in regard to performance, especially with regard to software (or lack thereof). While it's true that the K400 can be setup without any driver installation, Logitech subtly suggests in the Quick Start guide that the user should download the latest SetPoint software from the Logitech website (it's not included in the box). Don't bother. Despite being tagged for use with the K400, Logitech's clunky early-2000s-inspired SetPoint software didn't even recognize the K400. That meant no adjustments could be made to shortcut keys or touchpad movement, nor could any information be gleaned about battery life. The fact that the cursor movement is far too slow by default for HTPC use was a big disappointment, and it seems the only way to adjust it is to use the standard Windows control panel. Given the trouble we had getting the K400 to recognize Windows 8 gestures, we were hoping the SetPoint software would help us activate these features, but alas, the software did nothing to help.

The other major issue with the keyboard, and the one that keeps us from recommending this for anything but HTPC use, is that the key layout just doesn't encourage fast typing. Despite having close to normal-sized letter keys, many of the other keys just don't fall where they should, and the shallow action doesn't help with touch-typing either.  

Conclusion

In the end, it's hard to judge the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400. We wanted to love it from the moment we took it out of the box for its sleek design and attention to detail, but Logitech simply doesn't have the software team to back up its innovative hardware. We've seen this again and again, in such winning products as the Logitech G9x gaming mouse and the Logitech Harmony line of remote controls. The hardware is almost always exceptional, the software is terrible.

The saving grace of the K400 may well be its price - you simply will not find an equivalent product from a major manufacturer for anywhere near its $40 retail price. Better still, the K400 is available for under $30 from Amazon, as of our publication date.