Logitech recently launched its Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830, which is aimed at those who have a PC connected to a big screen and need a companion keyboard. Not only does it illuminate in the dark while you're watching a flick, but it also allows you to control Windows 7 or 8 from the built-in touchpad. Read on, as Gizmag reviews Logitech's living room PC companion.

Logitech K830

The Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 isn't your standard desk keyboard. It's aimed at more casual settings, like kicking back on a couch, recliner or bed. And while you can use it at a desk, it struck me as slightly cramped compared to standard desktop keyboards. The keys feel a bit closer together here.

Setting up the Logitech K830 is quick and easy. To pair it with your living room computer and HDTV, you just need to plug the included (proprietary) USB unifying receiver into an available USB port on the PC. This allows you to wirelessly control your computer from up to 33 ft. (10 m) away, which should be ample distance for just about anyone. The keys are nicely textured and typing is quiet: perfect for use in, say, a meeting room or any other setting where others are doing their own work.

The keyboard's internal battery is rechargeable, with Logitech advertising 10 days between charges, but I'd expect it to last longer than that for the casual user. For example, I've had it for two weeks, using it intermittently, and charged it only once. Either way, I think the amount of typing you can do between charges is more than adequate. And when it does run out of juice, you can simply connect it to a PC via the included micro-USB cable. Complete charging takes about three hours.

Home entertainment companion

The keyboard's illuminated keys are quite bright in dark to mid-lit rooms. You can use the F1 key to switch between two levels of brightness or to turn the illumination off altogether. Many modern laptop keyboards feature separate keys for raising and lowering brightness, but we think Logitech's single-key approach works well enough.

There are multimedia shortcut keys onboard as well. It's pretty standard fare: you have keys for launching a web browser, opening the default music player or controlling audio playback. The illumination and the shortcuts make for a great combination, making sure some of Windows' most important shortcuts are only a quick glance away, even in a dark home theater setting. And as a nice bonus, when you aren't actively typing, the key illumination slowly fades out. This not only saves battery, but also lets you completely focus on your movie without bright keys shining in your face.

I found the keyboard to be a bit small for my taste, but this also isn't the kind of keyboard you'd be typing, say, long dissertations on. It's designed to be a home entertainment companion first and foremost – and I think it's great for that. If nothing else, it helps with entering your login credentials into services like Netflix or Hulu Plus (is there anything more annoying than hunting and pecking your way through those awkward onscreen keyboards?).

Say what you will about Windows 8.1, but this keyboard is a great match for it. The built-in touchpad (measuring 80 x 52 mm) sits on the keyboard's right side, and it makes it easy to use all of Windows 8's swipe gestures, while also providing responsive precision with cursor control. One especially cool aspect of this keyboard and Windows 8 is having easy access to the operating system's "snap" multitasking feature. It opens the door to things like snapping the Twitter app to the side of the screen so you can tweet while watching a movie (as long as you don't mind sacrificing a little bit of your screen to do so).

The keyboard is also reprogrammable. After downloading Logitech's companion software, you'll have the option of changing the keyboard's scrolling features and function key shortcuts, or toggling touchpad gestures and onscreen battery notifications. This level of customization isn't for everyone, but we like it when manufacturers at least give you the option of tailoring your own experience.

One annoyance with this keyboard is that the power button's location and type makes it a bit difficult to turn on or off. It's a slider type of power switch, sitting on the top right edge of the keyboard, and I think a push type of button one would have been easier to toggle. And while the touchpad is a nice touch (ahem), its location on the right of the board might turn off lefties. Maybe southpaws can take consolation in the second left-click button at the top left of the keyboard.

If you're looking for a do-it-all keyboard that works just as well on the desktop as on the couch, then the Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 probably isn't it. But if you spend enough time using a PC in your living room (or perhaps bedroom) to warrant the purchase, it can be a worthy companion. The Logitech K830 is available now and will set you back US$99.99.

Product page: Logitech