Logitech K380 Keyboard

I use my Nvidia K1 Shield as my main interaction device when I’m away from my PC for extended periods of time, as with any touch screen device using the onscreen keyboard takes up a chunk of real-estate, that shrinks the content that you are viewing. To circumvent this I bought a bluetooth keyboard to allow me to type blog posts and the like a whole lot easier and to also keep the screen size maximised for application usage.

Over the Christmas period I found that my existing bluetooth keyboard had stopped powering on correctly.
So rather than try to figure out how to fix the weird power switch issue (that would most likely need some soldering), I used some money I was gifted from my Grandparents to get a new device.

I wanted to pick up the device ASAP so I could use it over Christmas when I would be using my tablet more heavily, but rather than waiting for a delivery, which around Christmas could have a 3 to 10 day delay, I hit the shops to attempt to find a replacement. After checking in a number of stores and weighing up the devices that were on offer, I finally settled on the Logitech K380 (UK Qwerty) which is a Cross-Platform and Multi-Device bluetooth keyboard.

Powered by two AAA batteries (expected to last around 24 months) the K380 is lightweight device weighing in around 420g, but the craftsmanship feels solid with the keys moving fluidly and comfortably within their recesses. The device has 4 rubber feet that hold the device in place when used on a flat surface, however the lightweight nature means that the device isn’t uncomfortable resting on your lap.

Out of the box the keyboard functions in a basic manner, with nearly all core keys performing their expected function, however characters that require the use of shift key function as if the keyboard layout is defaulted to use the US layout so the @ key is on shift 2 by default rather than it being “.

I have to admit that it took me a little time to figure out that I needed to download an additional application to the device in order to utilise those advanced features. If you need the Android version it can be found here: Logitech Keyboard Plus. One of the core features of the keyboard is the multi-device setup and quick switching keys, I didn’t really have much cause to use this but I tried it out connecting to my Phone on the second profile, then swapping between them using the dedicated keys.

I used the keyboard quite a bit over the Christmas break for typing into slow moving environments like forums or sending tweets, I also found it very useful for chatting on faster paced environments such as Discord and Twitch. It was nice to have cut and paste functionality and once I had it figured out plus the ability to auto-complete functionality for names and the like.

The owls are not what they seem

As much as the Steam Box is exciting and the idea of being able to access my game library on the couch is one that thrills me, the fact of the matter is everyone that I have talked too about having a SteamOS enabled living area, has pretty much indicated that they would most likely consider building their own machine.

There are still X number of companies pre-building models to ultimately sell, we are likely to see more about them at upcoming events like GDC but considering the information we witnessed before and some of the most ludicrously priced hardware, I’m not expecting this year to be any different and if it is indeed more of the same then it’s drives me further away from the idea of purchasing a prefab one.

The part I’m really interested in is the (owl) controller, which has been through many iterations as the design has changed
Valves haptic controller is also rumoured to be making an appearance at GDC this year, of course now the central touch screen is gone, the button configuration have been adjusted, modified and rejigged, the directional buttons have been replaced by some kind of analogue stick it’s believed?

SteamController

I’m hoping the final product (whatever the design) will be in my grubby little mitts before the year is out, mind you it could be utter pants, guess we have to wait and see.

#Hardware #Valve

Keyboard melting

I’ve had my Sidewinder x4 for nearly 3 years and and and it’s finally staring to show signs of wear.
The keyboard itself is still in working wonderfully but the continually use of certain keys has meant the plastic coating on the lettering is slowly wearing away. This appears to be due to the letter printing being on the outside of the key 😐

It doesn’t seem like I’m the first to experience this and as there are a few for sale on ebay that look to be suffering from the same problem. I have been watching for a second-hand one in good condition but the product looks to be discontinued as it’s out of stock everywhere, thus the chances of finding one with keys intact is proving rare.
I previously contacted Microsoft to see if I could purchase replacement keys but that was pretty much a dead end.

Out with the old

So in preparation for purchasing a replacement I’m on the hunt for some new hardware and have shortlisted some that interest me. For me there are a number of features that I would like, first is is dedicated media keys, I dislike having to perform some key combo just to mute sound. secondly nothing over the top, like the Madcatz Strike 7, and last I have limited space so nothing crazy wide like some of the old Razer products measuring over 50cm, which almost places my mouse in the next room.

  • Aorus – Thunder K7 – Gigabytes gaming brand is new to the scene but the build quality looks to be good and there are a number of features that appeal to me, like the de-attachable numpad/macrobank, however wrist support only works for the complete keyboard
  • Corsair – Vengeance K70 – A solid mechanical keyboard that comes with a few options of Cherry MX switch types, has media keys/volume wheel and a wrist support
  • Ducky – Shine 3 – I do like the look of these and they come in a mix of MX switches and backlighting but the lack of dedicated media keys is quite off-putting
  • Logitech – G710+ – Standing as Logitechs first Mechanical keyboard the G710+ has very mixed reviews. Only in Cherry MX Brown with a very high price tag. Does have media keys and volume roller.
  • Razer – Various – I have owned 2 Razer keyboards and despite being nice they are very bulky, which isn’t good for me requirements. However the newer boards have swapped from Cherry to their own switches which they are reporting have been designed for gaming.

I may have to put a little more time into working this out.
What are you using?

#Hardware

Casting Chrome

It was recently my birthday and one of the gifts I received was Google’s ChromeCast, which I’d had my eye on since the came out and I’ve not been disappointed since I started using it. Of course it’s aim at those who are invested in Googles software in it’s many forms.

Once slotted into the HDMI of my TV it was much easier to watch Youtube, Google Music, iPlayer or Netflix via my phone or tablet. These apps are enhanced and instantly detect the cast functionality and enables a 1-click-button to broadcast.

chromecast-deviceOn the PC the result is the same and I have found it easy to broadcast from my computer to the TV connected to the device. With access to my PC and a Chrome Browser extension I can broadcast a tab to the TV including audio. Tab broadcast is very nice as I use Amazon Cloud Player and can stream this using the enhanced Audio Quality setting.

Certainly a nice piece of kit if you are wanting to enhance your streaming capabilities.

Rise of the Machines of Steam

One the main news items to come out of CES has been the stories of the Steam Boxes, don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with specifications of them in this post.

As with PC’s there are wild variations of specifications as each manufacturer brings their own designs and configurations to the table.
Of course this has a massive impact on the prices, of the ones that gave a price, they ranged from between $500 to $6000.
I thought about the huge price range and how that could negatively impact the machines, but as with anything PC related you get what you are willing to pay for, it makes sense to allow PC gamers to “customise” their machine by offering choice.

But …

Steamos

Why do I need another high spec machine when what I have is perfectly capable of running the games I want?
The answer is that you shouldn’t (aside from showing off to your console friends ofc).

In the back of my head there was a small voice that screamed “overkill” as I was looking at the specs of the Steam machines. Sure for the games that release with SteamOS compatibility, they will enjoy the best the machine can offer, but it’s not clear how many future titles will run in native SteamOS, initially or long term.

For me the biggest feature that I am keen to get my hands on is the Streaming from my Windows machine.
Since my PC can handle the heavy work of rendering the game, all my Steam Box theoretically needs to do it display that for me to play the game from the living room.

Dual-OS has been pitch on some of them, which would mean you could reduce your PC count if you wanted, but I’m not overly keen on loosing my desktop PC just yet.

Talking of small machines, I originally started looking at hardware back when SteamOS was announced and found this nice video looking at The Cool master Elite 130 case and installing a nice selection of kit. I’d not want that much to begin with but having a case that can handle more in the future isn’t a bad idea.