The first physical keyboard we used with the iPad was an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard (ABK), which we still have on stand-by for when we need to travel light. Most of our physical keyboard use on the iPad today is with the HHKB Pro 2, but before we switched to a quasi-mechanical capacitive switch keyboard, we looked into solar-powered scissor-switch keyboards, and we were surprised that Logitech didn’t have a Bluetooth version ready. TUAW reported today that times have changed, as Logitech now has the Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 on preorder.
The K7601 is a 79-key scissor-switch keyboard, and for this ‘board, Logitech took a cue from Mathias and allows users to switch which computer the keyboard is connected to at the touch of a button, so you can, for example, have it synced to your iPad and PC at the same time. At $79.99, the K760 competes well against the ABK on price, though at the expense of a larger physical footprint due to the added width of the solar panel. This means the keyboard won’t be as portable as the ABK, though it’s hard to get an exact measurement of size because Logitech hasn’t published the full specifications on their web site yet.
Other than a small increase in size from the ABK, we have two qualms with the K760 in its current state.
Firstly, the K760 is aimed at desktop use. So is the ABK, though the latter has had time to mature, and that means several third-party manufacturers have found ways to make the ABK more versatile, especially on-the-go. Our two preferred accessories for using the ABK with an iPad are the Incase Origami Workstation and the WINGstand, both of which are specifically designed to clip onto the ABK, offering a decent solution for using the iPad on your lap or other non-flat surfaces.2
As no similar accessory exists for the K760, buyers need to rig something custom up themselves, else be limited in where they can use this keyboard.
Second, one of the major selling points of a solar keyboard is that it’s “greener”, because the charging of the respective batteries is done off-the-grid. That’s true, but you can achieve this same goal by simply using a keyboard with rechargeable batteries, and recharging those batteries using a solar panel. With the wide range of portable solar solutions out there these days, this is a rather easy thing to do, and it’s one of the ways we power our HHKB Pro 2, too.
This means the K760 isn’t so much a greener alternative as it a get-and-forget solution, as you technically won’t need to worry about charging the K760 for as long as you own it.3 In our opinion, a small solar charging solution is a more versatile alternative, especially if you have a need for a backup iPhone/iPad battery anyway.
The K760 is a logical step forward for scissor-switch keyboards, but we’d wait to see if a good third-party accessory shows up for it. The ABK still reigns supreme as far as scissor-switches go, and we’ll need some hands-on time with the K760 to see if the build quality compares. In the meantime, get a portable solar solution to charge those AA batteries the ABK uses, and you’ll be both green and $79.99 richer.4
A very un-Apple name. It’s about time companies got rid of confusing model numbers and stuck with more memorable names, even if a number is tacked onto the end to identify major revisions. ↩
Neither solution is perfect, but we’ve yet to find something better. ↩
It’s not clear if the K760′s batteries are user-serviceable, so if you buy this keyboard and use it for long enough, presumably the batteries will eventually die. Realistically, you’ll have ditched this board by then, else something else will have broken on it. ↩
Well, $79.99 minus the cost of the solar charger. ↩