Bluetooth keyboards are plentiful, but decent ones are harder to come by. Your alternatives start to diminish if you’re searching for something portable, reliable, and affordable. This became more than a thought experiment when I was unexpectedly faced with the necessity to replace my ageing keyboard recently.
I bit the bullet and got Logitech’s K380 Bluetooth device after several hours of frustrating research. It arrived a few days later. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and it’s on it that I’m writing this review. Was it a good investment? Yes was the quick answer. The whole answer can be seen below.
The Logitech K380 Bluetooth keyboard is small and lightweight, measuring 11.0 x 4.9 x 0.6 inches and weighs 14.9 ounces. Its most noticeable characteristic is its spherical keys, which you notice as soon as you look at it. This decision doesn’t add much to the keyboard’s appearance, but it does help to minimise its size.
There is no number pad, as one might anticipate from a keyboard of this size. Some keys are notably smaller than usual, particularly the top row and the arrow keys, which are both oval rather than circular. With three color-coded “Easy-Switch” buttons that enable you easily switch between paired devices, the top row serves as both function keys and media contro
Many Logitech keyboards have multi-device capability, allowing you to use them with everything from phones and tablets to TVs and computers without having to re-pair them. While the K380 can likely be used with a (Bluetooth-enabled) television, I wouldn’t recommend it owing to the absence of a trackpad or other pointing device. If that’s your primary goal, the larger K400 or K600 versions would be a better fit.
The K380 is available in two versions, one for PC users and the other for Mac users. Both variants are compatible with either computer, however the layout and marks on the keyboard are significantly different. The right position of the Start button or the Cmd key makes a bigger difference than you might think, especially for touch typists.
Two AAA batteries are included in the box and fit into a compartment on the back of the keyboard. That’s not as convenient as a rechargeable internal battery, but with a claimed runtime of up to two years, it’s difficult to grumble. On the left side, there’s a small, recessed power slider, and four rubber feet on the bottom keep the keyboard from rolling about if you’re a fast typist.
The Logitech Options software (Mac or Windows) allows you to change the settings a little bit. For example, you can make the top row default to function keys or change the action assigned to a couple of them. You can disable keys that you don’t use, such as Scroll Lock and the Start key. Low battery and hitting one of the Lock keys notifications are enabled by default, but you may turn them off if you don’t want them.
The K380 is available in a limited number of colours. I went with the dark blue PC version. Every device I tried it with, including a Windows laptop, a Macbook Pro, an iPhone, and a number of Android phones, paired quickly and easily. Holding down one of the coloured buttons for three seconds activated pairing mode, which was indicated by a rapidly flashing light above the keyboard.
Then it was simply a question of adding a new Bluetooth device to the phone or laptop, entering the six-digit code that displayed if necessary, and waiting a few seconds for it to connect. Characters appeared instantly regardless of the device I was using. It was a remarkably seamless experience, with none of the lag, failed connections, or missing keystrokes that plague many cheaper Bluetooth keyboards.
The slightly concave keycaps on the alphanumeric keys made it simpler to hit the appropriate position, and the curve of the keys didn’t take as long to get used to as I thought. Even while writing thousands of words a day, I found the K380 to have enough of key travel and had no issues with comfort or tiredness.
Because I work from home and am frequently at the same table or in the same room as my partner, I am acutely aware of noise. Loud, clacky keyboards are a no-no in the interests of a good partnership. Thankfully, unless you’re really banging the keys, the K380 is quiet, comparable to, if not better than, most laptop keyboards.
The tiny arrow keys, as well as larger buttons like Enter and the spacebar, which can be a little unresponsive on the edges on other keyboards, were trustworthy and accurate. The only significant modification I’d make is to widen the gap between the Caps Lock and A keys, as it’s far too easy to accidentally press the latter.
It’s not easy to find a travel-friendly portable keyboard. It must be light but not flimsy, small but not cramped, completely reliable, and have a battery life of several weeks, if not months. Isn’t that all we’re asking for? For years, I used Logitech’s K810, which was widely considered as the best travel keyboard available until the business discontinued it and did not replace it with anything even quite equivalent.
No, I’m not sure why. Since then, digital nomads and others have been bemoaning that decision, and I began to do so when my own decided it was tired of being packed into a backpack. Three of the keys just stopped responding one day, never to be used again. I’ll admit that I bought the K380 reluctantly, anticipating it to be a temporary solution until I found something better.
However, after a few weeks, it’s a lot better than I expected, and I’ll continue using it for the foreseeable future. The greatest tribute I can pay any keyboard is that I don’t give it a second thought, whether it’s in my purse or in front of my laptop. It’s just a tool, and that’s exactly what it is in this case. It just works, with no significant annoyances.
Backlighting is a small inconvenience, but it is not a deal breaker.
I have no way of knowing how long the batteries will last, but after reading multiple testimonials of individuals running their K380 for over two years on the same set of AAA batteries, I’m optimistic I won’t have to replace them anytime soon.
While the K810 provided a somewhat better typing experience and felt more durable, it was notably larger and heavier in my bag. There’s also the issue of cost: when I got that keyboard, it was about three times the price of the K380, which was also on sale.
It could’ve been a lot better.
Of course, I’ve only used the new keyboard a few times in town so far, not hundreds of kilometres around the world. Will the K380 be able to handle several weeks or months on the road if and when things improve? Only time will tell if it will be the true test.
It’s difficult to get excited about a keyboard in today’s world of shiny new technology. You’re unlikely to be enthralled by the Logitech K380, but you’re also unlikely to be disappointed by it.
There’s very little to complain about for the price. It connects quickly and hasn’t slowed down or dropped my connection once while I’ve been using it. It’s silent until I’m really banging the keys, and it’s comfortable and reliable to type on.
The ability to pair with various devices expands its utility, and if the promised battery life is anywhere close to correct, I’ll only have to change the batteries two or three times over the keyboard’s lifetime. I’m concerned about the plastic housing’s lifespan, but there’s no evidence of wear or damage at this early point. If that changes, I’ll update this review, but so far so good after a few weeks.
In conclusion, whether you’re looking for a solid, reliable Bluetooth keyboard to take on the go or simply want something affordable to use in your home office, the K380 meets the bill surprisingly well. It’s not the greatest portable keyboard I’ve ever used, but it’s close, and it offers excellent value for money for a wide range of applications.