If I hadn’t purchased a Bluetooth keyboard, this blog would have about 30% of its current content. My preferred portable input device is a Logitech K780 model.
I bought mine from Amazon about a year ago when I began writing regularly for my blog. I quickly realized that hand discomfort was my limiting factor for writing long form content away from my desk with an iPad. I paid $75 then; today’s price is several dollars less.
The dedicated keys for switching almost instantaneously between three devices are a major factor in my enjoyment of this particular keyboard. Those are the three white keys at the upper left of the K780 in the photo above.
Because I experience arthritis pain and stiffness in my fingers and wrists, tapping on a touchscreen while holding a device can be difficult, excruciating, or even impossible.
If I have my keyboard out, I use it to enter even short, simple text messages into my Android Blu R1 phone. Using the Logitech K780 is that much more comfortable for me.
Two other functions made the K780 the best keyboard for me:
- I prefer a keyboard with a numeric keypad for efficient data entry, and
- the indented slot simultaneously holds phones and tablets in place while I work.
That first one won’t matter to many users. If you don’t use the number pad on your current keyboard often or ever!, then by all means choose a smaller, lighter Bluetooth keyboard for your use on the go.*
Logitech offers the K380 model which has one touch device switching, like my K780, but without the built-in stand, or the K480, with stand, but using a fussy-looking dial instead of a keystroke to change devices. I haven’t tried either of those.
The little ledge that holds a device, however, will likely appeal to many users. Imagine a small, parallelogram-shaped valley parallel to your top row of keyboard keys, and you’ll have the form of this feature on the Logitech K780. It works well, supporting even a full sized iPad without a wobble on flat surfaces.
What makes this work exceedingly well for me is the full width keyboard (remember that numeric pad!) that leaves room for an iPad Pro—inside its thin, folio style case—as well as two cell phones. Not only can I swap which device I desire to control in an instant with the press of a physical button, but I also have that same device in view without juggling electronics.
Because we’ve talked about how well I juggle these days, right? My arthritis makes me drop things frequently as well as causing pain.
I suspect that the added weight of the wider keyboard with number pad helps to balance the extra weight of more, or larger, devices in the tray, but I’ve never laid hands on a diminutive model with similar functionality to test that theory.
Some people might want to point out here that there are folio cases for iPads with built in keyboards. I’ve tried a few of those, and I hate them.
For one thing, the keys on attached keyboards are almost by definition undersized, and I don’t care to adjust my typing position from that of a standard keyboard. Worse yet is the fixed position of the tablet screen in an attached case. Nothing guarantees my desire to change a viewing angle more than an inability to do so.
No, from my perspective, having a screen permanently fixed to my keyboard is a negative. That’s one of the reasons I rarely used my laptop before it was murdered† by DS1.
Even more specific to my use—but of probable interest to road warriors of other stripes—is how stable this set up is on less than ideal surfaces. My Logitech K780 is deployed more often on a lap desk or a large picture book, in a pinch than it is on proper desks and tables.
Deploying the K780 on an airline tray table in domestic Economy is no problem. I’ve even placed the keyboard on my lap with the tablet on my son’s adjacent tray table when a reclining seat in front of mine made the work angle less than ideal, and I’ve also switched to entering data into my iPhone in flight to be transferred to my iPad upon arrival if space seemed too tight to work on the larger device.
Closer to home, and like many moms, my parenting obligations force me to spend a lot of time in the car. I’m still working on a post about how I configure my temporary automotive office for relatively ergonomic comfort. I’ll include the link once that piece goes live.
Stay at home mom (SAHM) is a major misnomer; so is “home schooling” or “home education”—my primary occupation aside from traditional parenting. As an introvert and functional misanthrope, I wish I could do everything I need to do from the comfort of my own house, but I’m usually waiting in my minivan for the kids to complete some activity.
In addition to my need to work effectively out of the back of a van, I also live with chronic pain. My condition renders me less capable of sitting** at a traditional desk all day like I once did. Moving to the couch—and from upright to reclining positions—lets me extend by many hours the amount of computer work I can accomplish in a day.
For a nerdy person with a blog to nurture, this is a huge benefit. The Bluetooth keyboard is the key to making it work.
Both in the car, and on the couch, I use a lap desk to stabilize my keyboard + device(s)combination. I can use the keyboard on my lap by itself, but it’s not as comfortable, and my main purpose in using the keyboard is to decrease pain.
Bear in mind that holding a hardback book on my lap without a buffer is also painful; the K780 isn’t particularly uncomfortable to be held on the lap by fully able bodied users.
Because size matters, here are a few shots showing the Logitech K780 in relation to standard notebook paper, drinking straws, and on a scale.
Please note that the Logitech K780 keyboard on its own weighs 863 g.
Once again, we’re dealing with the nitty gritty of the specifics on why this combination of keyboard and device hits the sweet spot for me. My MacBook Air weighed in at 1.34 kg without its case, and I couldn’t always position the screen the way I wanted to in relation to its keyboard.
Add to that the loss of the option to leave the keyboard in the car while I carry just the more valuable iPad into a coffee shop, or to pack my iPad in my “personal item” on a plane while the keyboard stays stowed overhead in a carry on bag until and unless it is wanted. Oh, yes, and laptops almost always need to be removed from bags for the TSA at airport security, whereas tablets are more often allowed to stay conveniently inside. It’s pretty easy to see how my preferences settled where they did.
When I pack the K780, I usually use its original box. It’s a sturdy carton with tabs so it stays neatly shut in a suitcase. This adds depth but very little weight for a lot of protection, and it fits readily in even my small international size Tom Bihn Western Flyer carry on bag.
For daily use at home, I throw the unprotected keyboard into my tote bag with all my other stuff. It shows no ill effects from being momhandled‡ in this way.
There are some things I can’t do—or can’t do well enough—on the iPad that make me miss my real computer when I’m traveling. For this reason, my next “desktop” machine will probably be a powerful laptop using more adjustable external monitor(s) and keyboard for the experience I prefer with the option to access every function from the couch.
For now, though, I edit my WordPress posts on my Mac after I write them on the less than full featured iPad app. I complete my EdX programming courses only when I can tolerate hours in an office chair. I author text using iWriter on iOS and then fine tune my document formatting in Word at the desk.
Working with Excel spreadsheets and doing the taxes are exercises in pain that require narcotics or many short sessions to endure, but the arthritis can’t take all the blame for the IRS and its depredations.
In short, there is nothing more that a mere keyboard could do to ease my technological problems, and the Logitech K780 serves me very well in a wide range of situations. I recommend it highly for those who seek to work—especially where a numeric keypad is wanted—at a desk or away from its strictures.
*My first portable keyboard was one of Apple’s own snazzy aluminum models, and it was easier to fit in a travel bag. Personally, though, I felt some annoyance on every journey when those dedicated numerals weren’t where I wanted them. I’m well aware that this is likely to be an outlying opinion.
†Manslaughter is probably more accurate. The boy was mostly careless as opposed to violently inclined when he plugged in a device—one he suspected had just bricked his own ancient tinkering laptop—into my three year old MacBook Air. Apple declared the problem irreparable.
**Arthritis is a bitch like that. It hurts when you move, but it hurts even more when you don’t move enough.
‡That’s like being manhandled, only by me, a mom in a hurry who gets impatient with things corporeal.