The Good: Stylish color, Easy to install, Seems durable, Easy to keep clean
The Bad: Wastes a USB port, Supplemental keys are not intuitive, Responsiveness of keys varies
The Basics: An irksome keyboard that looks nice, mortgages its benefits with unresponsive keys and an non-intuitive layout. At least it's cheap!
Two days ago, the space bar on my keyboard gave out. I had to whack the space bar to get the cursor to make a space, so I popped the key off the board and cleaned out the hair and dust (an embarrassing amount) and attempted to pop it back in. It did not matter that the spring thing (there's a piece of metal under the space key best likened to an unfolded paper clip used to pop the key back up) would not clip back in, for some reason having removed the key once, no amount of shoving on the bar would cause it to move the cursor on my monitor (a wonderful Envision flatscreen reviewed here!). So, I went to Staples to pick myself up a new keyboard because a keyboard is pretty much a necessity for a computer, especially when writing reviews.
I selected the Logitech Classic Keyboard 200 because this week it was on sale for $9.99 (a $5.00 savings) and this expense pretty much hit me out of nowhere (such it the cheap life of a novelist). The big selling points for me were: it was inexpensive, it was black, and it would connect to my computer. Honestly, I did not look at the box - or the display model - as closely as I ought to have. If I had, I would have learned key information about the keyboard that may have made me think twice (though being as cheap as I am, probably not).
I returned home with my new keyboard and opened it up and discovered the first wrinkle. the Logitech Classic Keyboard 200 connects to a PC using a USB port. My computer is not state of the art, I suppose, and it only has two USB ports. I usually use my USB ports to upload images from my digital camera (reviewed here!) and the other one I alternate between my scanner (reviewed here!) and my digital voice recorder (a handy little device reviewed here!). I was not eager to lose a USB port to the keyboard, especially considering that there was a specific keyboard port right above the USB port that is now empty. There IS an adapter that will convert the USB connection into the keyboard pin jack configuration but I do not have one, nor is one included with the Classic Keyboard 200. To be fair to Logitech, it does say clearly on the box that it is a USB connection for the keyboard.
As well, the box advertises that this is a ridiculously easy product to install as it does not require any software to make it work. I found this to be entirely true. While the computer was off, I disconnected the old keyboard, stuck the USB connector in the first port, turned the computer back on and it worked. It was as simple as plugging it in and that was wonderful.
And it does look sharp with its nice black keys. It's a good looking keyboard. It is advertised as spill resistant, but my desire to do a thorough review ended with my refusal to spill something on the keyboard to see how resistant it truly is (I don't have $10.00 for another one this week!). The space between the keys is minimal, so I suspect dust, hair and debris will have a difficult time accumulating in between them. That would be a nice change for me from prior keyboards.
That's where my compliments of this keyboard will end and I truly wish one could watch me type that out. The keys on this keyboard are intermittently responsive, so often when I hit the the "shift" key, the letters do not become capitalized or simply do not appear. The "T" at the beginning of this paragraph took me three takes; the first time the "T" did not appear, the second time, it was not capitalized when I hit the shift and "t" keys. I've noticed that about one in a thousand keystrokes do not register. While that might not seem severe, to a professional writer, that's a serious handicap to have to go back approximately once every few words to - an average of once per sentence - to fix mistakes that are hardware related. I've noticed - as I quickly edited another review - that the problem with key responsiveness is accented when there are multiple shift functions in a row (i.e. quotes, then a capitalization - the result is often the capitalization does not occur).
My other big problem so far is with the layout of the keyboard. The Classic Keyboard 200 is designed to conserve space. It's nicely quite thin - approximately only an inch tall when the feet in back are folded down. It is, however, only eighteen inches wide (with the main keyboard keys compressed to eleven inches!) and only six and a half inches deep at its most deep. The spacesaving nature of the keyboard is nice . . . until one attempts to use the supplemental keys.
Granted, any new piece of hardware has a break-in period where the user becomes adjusted to using the new device, but the main supplemental keys; home, end, insert, delete, page up and page down, are arranged in a way that is not intuitive to use them. Arranged vertically in two columns, the awkward configuration finds the page up key below the end key. While only slightly less unnerving than the delete key suddenly being right next to the enter key, the "home" key seems strangely out of reach while the often-pointless and inconvenient "insert" key is easily accessible and in the way in the closer column, between the home and delete buttons. It is an illogical position for the "end" button and the "page up" and after a few days of use and practice, it is clear this is not an intuitive configuration (i.e. it is not simply the period of adjustment). The effort to make the keyboard more space efficient has led to a design inefficiency that negates the benefit of the space saving.
That said, it's better than nothing. I'll no doubt update this in the future with a status on how well it holds up over the beating I usually give keyboards. At this point, despite not being an ergonomic keyboard, standard days of typing have not caused any feeling of undue stress on my fingers. The price was right, but it clearly is a case of getting what one pays for. This'll do in a pinch, but ultimately, the problems with key responsiveness, use of a USB port and the layout of the frequently used supplemental keys negate the low price tag and snappy look.
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© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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