The Logitech K600 is great for owners of a smart TV and a must-have for those with more than one interface to navigate
Back in September, Logitech announced its new K600 keyboard - a keyboard designed for smart TVs. In reality, this is a keyboard that’s compatible with far more devices than just television sets. However, and in spite of the wide compatibility, Logitech is hoping to capitalize on the growing smart TV market by providing a keyboard option that although works fine when connected to a PC, smartphone or tablet, will afford some of the biggest gains to those in need of a tool to help navigate the sometimes convoluted TV interface. For reference, the Logitech K600 is now available to buy and costs $69.99 in the US.
The Logitech K600 measures in at 0.8 inches in height, 14.4 inches in width, 4.6 inches in depth and weighs in at 1.7 lbs. This is a keyboard that primarily draws on Bluetooth to establish connections and is listed as being compatible with Android devices running a minimum of Android 5.0, Android TV devices running a minimum of Android 6.0, Tizen devices running version 2.4 and newer, and WebOS devices running version 3.5 and newer. In addition to Windows (8 and above), macOS (10 and above) and iOS (5 and above). The Logitech K600 can be connected to three devices at the same time and is understood to be able to maintain a connection up to a distance of 49 feet away. Battery life is somewhat negligible as the Logitech K600 runs on two AAA batteries which are said to offer up to twelve months of battery life before they need to be replaced.
Hardware & Design
In short, this is a wireless keyboard. So, on a superficial level, there is not too much to note in terms of the design. The Logitech K600 is relatively similar in size to other similar keyboards and does feature a standard QWERTY setup. For comparison's sake, if you are used to the keyboard which now comes with many of the on-the-to devices, like Microsoft's Surface and Apple’s iPad, then you can expect this keyboard to be significantly bigger. The reason being is that it looks to account for as many control possibilities as possible. Therefore in addition to the main keys, the Logitech K600 also features a touchpad, a D-pad, and different sets of action buttons.
The Logitech K600 features a small circular touchpad designed to offer mouse-like functionality. This is one which seems to be more aimed at thumb use and so its position and size is relatively small compared to other trackpads, although the size does make it easier for users to quickly thumb the surface area and move the cursor to where it's needed. In spite of this design emphasis on thumb usage, the trackpad does also utilize two-finger gestures for added control. For example, when in need of scrolling up or down, or zooming in or out, this is where the two-finger gestures will come in. Which means when surfacing webpages users will need to adapt to continuously switching between thumb and double finger movements and this did prove to be a little unnatural compared to how users might normally use a mouse or trackpad, but in time became more familiar. Generally speaking, the response of the trackpad is pretty good, although it does lack in some minor respects - the most notably of which is the absence of the ability to tap and double-tap.
The included D-pad is one of the most useful additions to the Logitech K600 as it allows users to quickly navigate interfaces in much the same way they would with their remote control. The directional keys are slightly sunken towards the center to allow for the enter button to be more prominent. So there is very little chance of actually pressing the enter button, or one of the directional buttons when meaning to press the other, resulting in a very clean separation of keys. It’s worth noting the keyboard also features the more standard up down, left and right keys typically encountered on a keyboard, which when coupled with the main ‘enter’ key work in much the same way as the D-pad. So basically, there is a choice with the Logitech K600 with users able to opt for either the more keyboard-like navigation controls or the more remote-like ones. Like the trackpad, the D-pad position seems more than just coincidental as it's positioned in the most upper right-hand corner which makes it easy to use with just your thumb when holding the sides of the keyboard with your hands.
The Logitech K600 has two primary sets of action buttons. The first set runs across the top of the keyboard and is very typical of the media controls found on most keyboards with users able to control various elements, such as the volume, fast forward/rewinding, brightness and so on. So there's not much new here with the same setup found on almost all keyboards. However, the second set of action keys run down the left side of the keyboard and are more aimed at those looking for a mobile-like experience. In particular, these prove instrumental when controlling various TV OSes, including Android TV. As these keys include a dedicated home button, back button, recents (switching windows) button, and a search button. Pressing any of these respond in exactly the same way they would on a smartphone, making it very simple to navigate interfaces which adopt more of an app-based design.
What matters most with the Logitech K600 is the user experience, as in reality a keyboard that connects to a TV is nothing new. Which is the first point to note - what the Logitech K600 offers is nothing new and so consumers should not be expecting some sort of eye-opening experience here, and especially those who are already making use of a wireless keyboard with their existing TV setup. That said, what they can expect compared to other wireless keyboard options is a much-improved user experience. Yes, there are a couple of issues (not all apps or interfaces support keyboards and therefore usage will differ from app to app), but the experience overall is far better tailored to a TV viewer than say a PC user.
This is not only evident in the abundance of ways in which you can interact with the interface (keyboard, directional keys, D-pad, trackpad, action keys), but also in the number of devices the keyboard can connect to in general - more on this in the next section. This proved immensely useful in more ways than just connecting to another device with volume control proving to be a good example. The Logitech K600’s ability to quick-switch between devices and control almost every element offered by the original remote results in the keyboard being very good at balancing the volume across devices. That might not sound like a major point to note, but for those who have a more advanced setup then volume balancing will be of a concern. For example, this keyboard negates the need for users to have the volume maxed on one device (an STB, for example) so that the remote for another (usually the TV) device acts as the primary volume controller across both devices. With the K600, whichever device you are using the volume is more accessible and customizable. This carries forward as well so when three devices are connected the impact is even more apparent. Volumes can be far better controlled and customized at the device level to the point where it never matters what the volume is on one device or another, as controlling one device's volume is no different to the other. In other words, there is no primary device anymore and this is a point that pretty much extrapolates to all other areas of control - no device is primary with all devices equal in every respect.
In truth, the impact of the user experience is likely to differ depending on the setup you have. For example, Android TV device owners will find real value in this keyboard as it covers over a number of issues often encountered with the Android-based TV experience. This is best exemplified in the trackpad which works seamlessly with all Android TV devices encountered. For those unfamiliar with Android TV, the ability to use a cursor to navigate the interface is largely non-existent and this can prove to be more of an issue when trying to use certain apps that have not been fully optimized for Android TV. The K600 solves this problem immediately as the cursor is suddenly present on all connected devices and the experience is very reliable compared to some of the previously available shortcuts and solutions. Yes, NVIDIA SHIELD owners will already be familiar with their NVIDIA-issued option to use a cursor with the SHIELD Controller. And yes, that experience has been greatly improved with the introduction of the new SHIELD app. But, neither the Controller nor the SHIELD app work as well as the Logitech K600 does in this respect, with the most notable examples being the quality of the connection with the cursor and its response in general. So even those who have the option to use a cursor with an Android TV interface will see an improved experience when using this keyboard. For non-SHIELD Android TV owners, this will be even more useful.
The big selling point with the Logitech K600 is the connectivity. As while the navigation and control is instrumental in the experience, the connectivity is what makes the navigation so worthwhile in the first place, and when compared to other keyboard options. Firstly, the Logitech K600 is capable of connecting to three different devices at the same time and those devices can be cycled through by holding down one of the preset keys (“1,” “2” or “3”). Holding down any of these keys (once paired with a device) will immediately switch the keyboard to that device. While this does mean you can connect the keyboard to your smartphone, and your PC, as well as your TV, the keyboard best shines when connecting to multiple TV interfaces as part of the same setup, or different TV-based devices in different rooms.
These multiple connections are possible thanks to the use of Bluetooth as the Logitech K600 can be connected to a Bluetooth-enabled device in much the same way any other Bluetooth device by initiating a pairing mode - heading to the settings menu and manually pairing the two. However, this seems to be more of an added-feature than anything else, due to Logitech seemingly quite keen to push users to make use of the unifying USB dongle included with the purchase.
Users of wireless keyboards and mice will already be familiar with this type of unifying receiver (and especially this exact one for current owners of Logitech products as it seems to be the same one - though not confirmed), and this is the easiest way to initially connect a device as once the unifying receiver is plugged into an available port on a device, it immediately connects to the keyboard with no additional actions by the user necessary other than the user briefly being directed to a corresponding webpage on a PC or mobile to activate the full functionality. Although this is also fairly straightforward and painless, as shown below, and is not specific to the unifying receiver as the same redirection takes place when connecting via Bluetooth in the normal paired manner.
However you connect, there were no real differences in the quality of the connection noted between the use of the unifying receiver and the standard Bluetooth paired mode - both proved to be highly reliable when tested and showed no issues in maintaining a connection over longer periods of time. In fact, even if the keyboard was left for days before being used again, the connection was almost instantaneous and problem-free. While there were no noticeable differences between the two connection methods, the best setup to avoid any issues possible arising was to make use of the unifying receiver when connecting to the main device in a setup, (the TV for most people) and then utilizing traditional Bluetooth pairing when connecting to any additional devices, like an STB or Android TV box.
The Logitech K600 is not a groundbreaking device and in many respects might not appeal to that many buyers. However, for those consumers that do see the benefit in having a keyboard attached to a TV setup, there are few products, if any, as good as this one. To put it another way, if you only have a TV as a means of media consumption (or additional units that don’t support Bluetooth accessories) then this is unlikely to improve the user experience that much. Especially if you never access web pages on the TV. For those users, they are better off just sticking with their standard remote or universal remote. However, if you have more than one device as part of your home entertainment setup, that both support Bluetooth accessories, then the Logitech K600 suddenly becomes a very useful addition. Even more so if you have three devices you can connect to at the same time as then the Logitech K600 really does become a single and complete controller. Android TV device owners - this is definitely one you should be checking out.