ZNet blogger Heather Clancy has declared Logitech’s solar keyboard “Green Gadget of the Week.” Having used one off and on for about eight months now, I wouldn’t disagree. Logitech’s Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is powered by light—indoors or out—underscoring its “green” credentials. Eliminating the potential of getting caught with dead batteries and no replacements at hand is an attractive attribute, but there are plenty of other reasons to like the K750.
The K750 uses Logitech’s 2.4 GHz wireless interface technology, which I mostly like better than Bluetooth, since establishing and maintaining connections is less tedious, but you can’t use it as an external keyboard for an iPad. Another disadvantage of 2.4GHz wireless is that you need a USB receiver dongle plugged into a USB port on your computer or hub. Happily, the one supplied is a low-profile unit that can usually be left in the port when you’re operating in mobile mode with your laptop.
Unfortunately, the K750 is currently only available with Windows/Linux keymapping. It works fine with Macs, but it doesn’t support Logitech’s free downloadable desktop app that features a lux meter to provide a visual check on available light falling on the K750, keeps track of how much energy is currently stored, and evaluates current light level for charging purposes. A Mac version of the K750 is rumored to be in the works, but who knows?
Speaking of keymap layout, it’s typical PC keyboard configuration. For Mac users, the left Command (in this case labeled Windows) key’s position is swapped with the Option (Alt) key, which will require a bit of muscle memory remapping unless you want to mess around with keyboard remapping software. There’s no right-hand Command key, but instead the FN modifier key occupies the spot second from the right of the space bar. Personally, I don’t find using Windows keyboards with Macs a real hardship after a short reorientation.
There are only 12 labeled F-keys. I prefer 15, and the three missing F-Key positions are occupied by Windows–oriented key caps, labeled Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause/Break. However, using the keyboard with OS X, I discovered that these keys work just like the F-13, F-14, and F-15 keys would on a Mac keyboard, so it’s really not a problem. The F12 key, which functions as a power key on PCs, summons the Restart/Sleep/Cancel/ShutDown dialog sheet under OS X. The navigation keys are pretty much where you’ld expect them to be.
The K750′s short-travel black keys and 1/3 inch thick profile make it even thinner than Apple’s current keyboard offerings, with no necessity to accommodate a battery compartment. Dubbed “Incurve,” the keys have a concave keycap design that supports the shape of your fingertips, while helping guide your fingers to the right keys, and soft, rounded edges that make it easier for fingers to glide from key to key. The quiet membrane keyswitches have reasonably light action, with just a bit more “over-center” feel and a harder landing than I consider ideal. At 1/3 inch (7.5 mm) in section, the K750 is claimed by Logitech to be the thinnest freestanding computer keyboard ever made. Because the K750 is so thin, the lack of a wrist rest area shouldn’t be much of an issue. You can just rest your wrists on the supporting table or desktop.
Logitech makes much of the Wireless Solar Keyboard K750′s claims to “green” credentials, and on more than its power source. It boasts PVC-free construction, and it even ships in a fully recyclable box with a minimal footprint, to the point that what documentation there is in the form of minimalist instructional diagrams is printed on the inside of the recyclable shipping box.
Inside the box are four items: the K750 keyboard itself, the unifying receiver dongle, a USB extender adapter for if your available USB port is deeply recessed or closely spaced (such as with an original form factor MacBook air) and a handy soft polishing cloth, which you’ll be grateful for if you want to to keep that high-gloss piano-black finish looking shipshape.
Logitech says the rechargeable internal battery, which deviates from the Apple way of doing things by being user-replaceable, can hold a charge sufficient for roughly 3 months use when away from a light source.
I had no problem getting the test unit up and running—basically just a matter of inserting the USB receiver dongle in a USB port and turning on the keyboard’s power switch. Small niggle; the power switch is inconveniently tiny and has a less smooth and light action than it might, in contrast with the ‘board’s general premium level of finish and refinement.
The Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is elegantly easy on the eyes; its most distinctive attribute being that mirror-like black finish that harmonizes nicely with current Macintosh styling. One point to note: the K750 has no palm rest surface, with the keyboard’s keypads shifted down from the top three-fifths of the unit’s surface area to the bottom three-quarters, the balance occupied by two 7-element solar panel clusters (which have a projected service lifespan of 15 years before there is any substantial degradation in performance) to power the charger.
In summary, I quite like this keyboard, and would even if it didn’t have the solar power feature, but that’s icing on the proverbial cake. It’s not perfect—lack of dedicated Mac support and keymapping being an obvious shortcoming, although in my estimation, not a deal breaker. I mentioned the stiff off/on switch above, and there’s no alert light for the Caps Lock key (perhaps as a power conservation measure), but as a non-touch typist I found it tripped me up at times.
The Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750′s suggested retail price is $79.99.
Buy the Logitech’s Solar Keyboard K750