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My Logitech K811 Keyboard Review

Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard for Mac

Yep, bought Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard from Amazon for $76 dollars.

It’s not that cheap given that many mechanical keyboards are selling at around $100 bucks.

Feature-wise, there are a few pluses:

  • It can pair up to 3 devices
  • Backlit (from 0 to 4)
  • Built-in battery

This is a keyboard. Typing comfort is definitely the most important feature among all. Let’s check the detail…

Typing

Typing on k811 generally feels very much like typing on Macbook Pro Retina (MBPr).

Keys have a slightly concave surface. The keys have slightly deeper travel than my Macbook Pro Retina (2012). Key presses feel crisp and bouncy. It feels much more responsive than Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard.

You can rest your finger comfortably on this keyboard. You won’t have to worry about accidentally pressing any keys while your fingers naturally rest on the keys. I have no problem using it the whole day coding.

Logitech coined a gimmicky name for the concave key design – Logitech Incurve keys. In my personal experience, I find it really help. I have other membrane keyboards with similar key travel. With this concave key cap, my finger tips do feel less “slippery” when pressing keys.

I still prefer the MBPr keyboard for the “soft” landing feeling when you press the keys. K811 gives you satisfying key presses but you don’t get the say “soft” landing feeling at the MBPr keyboard. For this reason, typing on K811 is noticeably louder than the MBPr keyboard. However, it’s not that much louder than Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard. It basically means this is still a pretty quite keyboard for use in quiet office or sleeping room.

If you are a Macbook Air user, this keyboard is a big upgrade from you MBA keyboard. It gives you much better tactile feedback.

However, if you are a MBPr user, you may have mix feeling with this keyboard. It’s definitely a solid product. But there maybe a few details about the keys that you don’t quite like.

Comparing to Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard, most Amazon reviews say it’s much better than Apple’s one. I, myself, find that only half true. Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard is definitely solid. I am still 50% of my time with it. Typing comfort with Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard is less satisfying than Logitech K811. But there are other pluses in Apple’s board which, from my perspective, makes it hard to have a clear winner. I will go over the build quality and Mac specific features below.

Mac specific keys

This a Mac layout keyboard. This means the top function keys are mapped to Mission Control, screen brightness, volume and playback keys.

Logitech shifted the keys a little bit so that the first 3 F keys serve as switching 3 different devices. I find this pretty handy. I connect the keyboard to my iPad, personal MBPr and work MBPr. Whichever notebook is docked to my desk, I can easily connect to them which re-pairing.

Driver and software issue

This is the worst part of this product. This is also my usual problem with Logitech products. They don’t seem to be able to make great driver and software for their hardware.

Mission Control is put in F4. However, it doesn’t work right out-of-the-box. You need to either install the driver or make some manual changes. For some reason, “Mission Control” key in K811 isn’t really the Mission Control key. It’s programmed to be “^ + <arrow up>”. You have to either manually change system keyboard shortcuts to map “^ + <arrow up>” to Mission Control. You also need to map “CMD + Mission Control key” manually if you want that to “show desktop”. You can find the detail in Logitech’s FAQ here.

This is not ideal. Imagine, you are not a geek like me who tries to figure out why you need to install the K811 drive to get “Mission Control” key work.

The situation get worse when you install the driver. True, you get the “All Application Windows” mode working. But the driver doesn’t support CMD + Mission Control key and Ctrl + Mission Control key. With the drive, you still have to make the keyboard shortcuts changes.

In my case, I run into another problem. With the driver installed, I cannot use OS X built-in Chinese handwriting input method via the Apple Magic Trackpad. Uninstalled the driver, things revert back to normal.

So, yeah, I am running this keyboard without the driver. This is actually cool! But, as a user, I shouldn’t have to go through all these problems just to know, at the end of it, I actually do NOT need to install any freaking driver!!

Product Design and Build Quality

I don’t think this keyboard is that well built compare to Apple Bluetooth Keyboard. K811 surely is sturdy. It’s not “Apple Bluetooth Keyboard” study though. Apple’s one is built from a rigid aluminum frame on top of the white plastic base. K811 is largely plastic. The aluminum surface is mainly a cosmetic layer that serves very little functional purpose in terms of overall rigidity of the product.

I also have problem with the backlit-ed Logitech logo in the top center of the keyboard. It would be awesome if the top face of the keyboard is brand-less.

Conclusion

Overall, I like this board. It’s not good enough to fully replace my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard nor the built-in MBPr keyboard. So, to me, it’s not a no-brainer recommendation to everyone.

This keyboard is definitely not cheap. Together with the driver/manual configuration hiccups, it’s a 50/50 to me. I feel good owning and using this board. But I will not recommend it to everyone of my friend.

Bottom-line is… if you need a bluetooth keyboard that connect to multiple devices and you don’t care about the price, this is a solid buy.

If you are a little price sensitive, you may want to consider Logitech’s K750.

If you are simply looking for a decent keyboard for your desk, you may want to physically compare it (K811) with Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard.

AT&T and T-Mobile prepaid plans – my experience

Mobile phone service is expensive in the States. You easily pay almost $100 monthly if you are on contract with AT&T.

There are cheaper options. I tried 2: AT&T GoPhone plan and T-Mobile Prepaid plan.

GoPhone plans are not cheap and, honestly, a little deceiving. The plans are exactly decided to make you feel like “what? you think I am dumb?”

AT&T

att-prepaid-plans

If you are an iPhone (or other smartphone) user, your only choice is, basically, the most expensive plan – $60 with 2GB of data.

To be fair, this 60-dollar plan includes unlimited calls, texts and international calls too. But, seriously, who still calls? Who still uses SMS?

Other plans on the list are pretty much useless. Check the “Data/mobile Web” column. Who can live with 200MB of data? That plan costs you 40 freaking bones! The 50-dollar plan is even worse. No cellular data is included.

Good UX is about being honest and empathetic. Why would you offer smartphone plans not enabling customers to perform normal things smartphones are supposed to do (browsing web, checking email, play games, download apps)?

T-Mobile

T-Mobile gives you another option. But, still, it’s kinda setup to deceive you in some way. T-Mobile offer a $30 5GB plan with 100 minutes talk and unlimited text. It sounds pretty sweet. But, it’s not that easy to spot this plan in their web site.

tmobile-prepaid-plan

Yup! It’s that tiny little section in their web site.

Pay attention to the URL I refer to. It’s “http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com”. If you visit the main site - http://www.t-mobile.com, you will have some tough time figuring out where the hell prepaid phone plans information can be found.

The bad experience continues… I went to a T-Mobile store hoping to get a prepaid SIM and sign up for the plan right away. I talked to the sales rep there. He showed me the available plans. There’s no $30 5GB prepaid plan in store. I asked him if he knew if there’s such plan, he said the only $30 plan he could offer was the 1500-minute talk time one.

In order to confirm I did see such plan, I loaded up the above prepaid plans page and showed it to him. Only then, he told me that this was a web only offer and he had no way to activate such plan for me from his in-store system. He said my only option, if I wanted to sign up that plan, was to purchase a SIM from the online store and activate myself.

That store officer was polite to me the whole time. I had no complain about him. He’s just reading the sales scripts anyways.

Again, good UX is about honesty and empathy. How can I build trust to a company when I know they purposely not disclosing all the service plans they have?

Thoughts…

These 2 carriers suck. It’s really not an enjoyable experience to choose a carrier sucks less. I decided to reduce my spending on mobile phone services to minimal. Instead of paying AT&T the premium for better service both for me and my wife (i.e. $60 x 2 per month), I stopped paying both our prepaid plans at AT&T and replace that with one single phone plan – the $30 plan from T-Mobile.

I have no phone now. My wife’s iPhone 5 has no reception in the apartment. But she has data service when she’s out and I have reduced phone bills from a total of $120 down to $30 per month!

Hope you have found your ideal solution too. :)

Milestone

Ferry building, San Francisco

There are always milestone events in one’s life. Something that one will never forget in years to come. And, when they look back, it’s always seen as the decision point that change course of one’s history.

This is the moment now.

Re-resubmitted my interview test to a prospected employer roughly 4 hours ago. This is it. Make it or not… If I make it, I will be in SF for some time longer. If not, I will go out-of-status.

There’s nothing to fear, nothing to lose. I’ve never planned to live in SF for my whole life. The problem is not about living a life in what geo-locaiton.

If I am professionally admitted to the next stage, it means I am admitted to the Silicon Valley. This is big in certain respect. I am never good at meeting with people’s expectation. I’ve rarely worked for one either. The reason I was brought to SF was all a coincidence of time and my technical skills.

Whether or not I will continue to be here for some time will be about how people perceive (and how well I present) my skills towards what they need. Whether or not I get the admission ticket will mark an important milestone to my life.

I am writing this post to remember this moment…

Be it or not… I learnt a lot about the Silicon Valley. I learnt why great companies are great companies. I learnt idea didn’t matter, people matter. I learnt it’s hard to make the quantum jump from good to great. I learnt to be true to myself. I learnt to be agile to my life…

Let’s see what happens in the upcoming 10, 12 hours.

Keep working at it…

Guess all artists have had some really tough failing period in their lives. Getting your creation done is tough. Having your creation liked by other people is exponentially harder.

Sharing 2 commencement speeches here if you also need to add some fuel for the last few hundred miles…

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement

Lisa Kudrow Commencement Address at Vassar

Don’t ask me for permission on launch!!

Opening up just.me app for the first time.

Big usability and UX no no… Don’t ask me for permission to use the address book right on launch!! This makes me feel like you wanna suck all my contacts very badly.

Why don’t you explain to me how this app works and explains to me the permission to use my address book is legit (for the purpose of the app)?

20130513-115047.jpg

Why the hell, in Passbook, you swipe down to switch between passes?

20130314-130859.jpg

As titled, why?

My guess is… swipe up kinda infers discarding something versus swiping things down means more like “you are putting it back”.

Response to “UI and Capability”

Read the post – UI and Capability by Ryan Singer from 37signals.

Love it!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with details when you’re designing a UI. That’s why I try to keep hold of which things “really matter” and continually come back to them. In a software tool, the important things are the capabilities you give your users.

The first paragraph is beautifully said. This is what I, often times, make things with good intention. I previously quoted, “We must make things with great hope and faith, for there is joy and fulfillment in creation” from George Nakashima’s book – The Soul of a Tree. This reinforces my belief. Great products are built with good intention.

Something I want to write here to remind myself though.

In Ryan’s article, he laid his belief that styling serves 2 purposes – revealing a feature and aesthetic purpose. He prefers to focus on building on capabilities and interface in early project stage while only do enough styling. Don’t linger too much on styling.

I agree. But we should remind ourselves that, I guess, he mainly states this base on his experience with 37signals products. Their products are mostly productivity applications. Users definitely look for productivity applications largely for their capabilities.

When we work on applications in other categories, priority changes. When we work on an application in a different time, priority also changes.

Say, Facebook can ignore design when they first started. Back then, their major competitor was Friendster. The bar was low.

Or, say, Instagram. iOS comes with camera and photo applications. What are the incentives to get user to download another app? Design (visual appearance), capabilities (features), price, peer influence… Many factors play a role. The developer needs to make their own judgement.

Guess Ryan will not deny my point of view. Quote:

I’m not religious about it — I do some rough styling to feel good about what I’m working on. But I don’t allow myself to linger or circle around it.

In my case, Atttach is a productivity app. I am basically doing exactly what he recommends. :)

What does Obama’s State of Union Address 2013 mean to Hong Kong people?

Yesterday, President Obama delivered his first State of Union Address in his 2nd term.

Politics, to many people, including me, is boring. It’s built on skepticism and distrust. But Obama, besides Noam Chomsky, is the only one who make it inspiring and hopeful.

But, hey, what does it have to do with me – Hong Kong people?

I wanna quote his closing remark -

“We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title: We are citizens.

It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.”

I wish all leaders of Hong Kong have this capacity to challenge its own people. And, I wish all Hong Kong people really think about what it means to be a Hong Kong citizen – what should we give instead of what we can get.

It’s time for change. Stop living on China’s economic benefits. Earn every dollar by legit hard work. We need to rebuild our values. This won’t be easy but we have no choice.

“We were sent here to make what difference we can, to secure this nation, expand opportunity, and uphold our ideals through the hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.” – President Obama

True grit

Silicon is supposed to be tech heaven. But, people seem to forget that, in order to support an ecosystem, we need a huge food chain. Lions (Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel…) are on top. Insects are in the bottom. Inbetween billions of insect and a lion tribe, there are countless of creatures around counting millions.

People around me, there are mighty handy man, brave firefighters, dreamers, storytellers… There are also bozos.

I feel bad that some much hard work were undermined by bozos. It’s unfair to those who work hard because their great work is not as great when combining bozos’ work together.

The fact that I can’t move around freely suffocates me. Reality bends my ego. I have to waste part of my life with bozos. There’s no way, for now, for me to spend all my time doing what I’m proud of. But I’m spending my controllable chunk on something that I will be proud of. Reality can’t bend my dream.

I need to see this as life’s challenging my true grit of making great product.

My iOS 7 wish list

Without researching any well-known Apple bloggers, this is my wish list for features in iOS 7.

App updates

Updating apps is pain in the butt. Why do I have to bother to go to App Store app, go to “Updates” tab, wait for the view to load, tab “Update All”?

This gets worse the month where a new iOS is released. One of the first thing you do with the new OS is… update the apps! Should it be use some apps instead? Almost every app you installed need to be updated in various time over that period.

I know there are legit reasons why you don’t want some apps to be updated. But that shouldn’t be the reason for not having anything better than what it is done right now.

System clock bug

No more “new year” related bug, please. Some time ago there’s the alarm clock not alarming. Now there’s the “Do not disturb” never turns off for 7 days.

It’s not a huge deal. But it’s obvious and affect to many users. What do users think when they hear that from the press and, at the same time, experience that personally? They probably think Apple’s own claim of superior quality is, just like Samsung, marketing.

Useful built-in apps

Give me useful built-in apps. I am a iOS developer. I know why you dumped all Google apps. But normal people out there don’t. They just think iPhone is less good than it was.

If you are taking away some useful apps (YouTube and Google Maps), give me something back as compensation so that the total is still a gain to the users. Let’s make iLife suit free!

Remove Compass app!

Please take away Compass app!

Samsung marketing is stupid. They should mock Apple for shipping Compass app. (BTW, phone touching phone is also stupid.)

Sharing things with Mac

Sharing spontaneous small chunk of information with iOS device is still difficult. There are a bunch of 3rd-party apps like Pastebot. To me, this should be OS provided feature.

Maybe Apple wanna solve the problem solely with iCloud sync. If so, it will take forever before I can do so.

New springboard

The springboard is dated. This grid of app icons do not work for me anymore. If Apple expect people to install lots of apps, the current state of springboard is pretty much like bookmark in Safari. Who bothers to tidy up their bookmarks? How many bookmarked sites you can recall?

Android home screen is kinda like Palm Pilot, Windows CE and Newton which is more a dashboard of “what’s going on”.

I’m very sure during the development of iOS. Some design teams were assigned to design a launcher with this traditional dashboard approach. Somehow this current approach was adopted. But I really want Apple to innovate in this part of UX.

Dashboard approach can be boring and get tired easily. People have been complaining about the rainy cloud in HTC Sense UI. It’s pretty, iconic. But, having been so for so many years, it also represents boredom and stagnancy.

What if Apple make something not-dashboard and not-springboard? I think Apple can do it!

Make App Store live in desktop browser

Lastly, and slightly off topic, please open App Store for browser access. It’s such a drag browsing App Store in iTunes in desktop.



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