Low Profile Done RIGHT! Logitech MX Keys Review
Today we are taking a look at a keyboard, but not just a typical gaming keyboard, the Logitech MX Keys. It’s beautiful, it’s simple, it’s streamlined, and it’s also fairly feature rich too. Think of it as a stripped down version of the Logitech Craft, and if you recall that keyboard came with a unique dial that allowed the user to customize it with different commands for use in different creative applications. However, it wasn’t cheap with launch price of $200 USD – and it still retails for $170 – but thankfully that isn’t the case with MX Keys. It retails for $99 USD which I think is fair considering what it offers.
Layout & Design/span
For starters, the MX Keys has a pretty simple keyboard layout. It is full size, which may or may not suit your liking, and I really wish that they offered a TKL version of this as well. However, for most people this should be fine, especially for those who work with numbers a lot. As a size comparison, here’s the MX Keys next to my Varmilo TKL keyboard and the difference is not that significant. Out of curiosity I pulled out the Cooler Master SK650 low profile mechanical keyboard and they’re pretty much identical length wise. However, let’s be honest here the SK650 isn’t really low profile, it’s more than two times thicker than the Logitech.
The design hasn’t changed that much compared to the Craft. The keys now have a darker tone that gives it a nice contrast to the frame and I like it. Build quality is really good – just like with the Craft – and that is to be expected considering the price. The edges are rounded as well and they’re not sharp at all, so that’s pretty cool. Also, if you’re comfortable spending an extra $20 you can pick up a palm rest for the keyboard. Now $20 extra for a piece of memory foam and stain-free material kind of bothers me. I honestly feel like they should have included this with the MX Keys in the first place. I mean $99 is still pretty expensive for a keyboard, and charging $20 extra for just a palm rest is basically an Apple move. On the positive side, it’s really comfortable to type with and it doesn’t take away that whole low profile aspect of the keyboard.
Awesome Keys & Switches
One thing that really caught my attention was just how stable the keys are. There are no signs of wobbling, which ultimately results in a consistent typing experience. You might also notice the concave keys which are supposed to match the shape of your fingertips for better comfort. And to be honest when I’m typing up something every key I press feels natural. I can distinguish one key from the other and they’re spaced out adequately, so it’s pretty difficult to miss a key.
Surprisingly, the switches are fantastic given their low profile nature. You see the MX Keys doesn’t come with mechanical switches, so if you’re looking for that clickety-clack experience this is not the one to get. However, what it does provide is a solid, faster and tactile experience when you hit every key. Yes, the travel distance is shorter, but the benefit is that you naturally start typing faster. Believe it or not, when switching between the MX Keys and the SK650 (featuring Cherry MX Red low-profile switches), the Logitech’s keys feel a lot better compared to the Cooler Master’s. While the Cooler Master has like a mechanical aspect to it, it felt bland to me. I personally wasn’t able to feel any actuations, and the MX Keys were so much more tactile compared to the low profile MX Reds. Ultimately, I just started typing a lot faster on the MX Keys compared to the Cooler Master keyboard.
Cool Features & Software
Now let’s get to some of the other features starting with the smart elimination. Just like with the Craft, Logitech has implemented proximity sensors around the frame of the keyboard. Therefore, as your fingers approach the keys they light up and they fade away when you leave the desk. This is pretty cool, especially if you work in low light environments. It’s also very bright, which is helpful in bright environments. If you want to preserve battery life you can manually adjust lighting through the function keys, which by default are set to different Windows based commands like launching Task View, opening up the Action Center, and media playback controls. All the adjustments to the function keys can be done through Logitech’s software.
Up until now I haven’t mentioned that the MX Keys is a wireless keyboard, so it comes with a unifying receiver that you can plug into your computer. However, it also comes with low energy Bluetooth support and it’s cross-platform compatible so it works with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux. It charges via USB Type-C which is awesome, and battery life is expected to be around 10 days if leave smart backlighting on, but if you turn it off completely you can expect up to five months, which isn’t too bad at all. I’ve been using this keyboard for about a week and battery life is still going pretty strong. My recommendation is that you turn off smart backlighting during the day when you have adequate light, and then turn it back on when you’re working during the night so you can get more than 10 days worth of use. Oh, by the way, if you’re running low on battery Logitech’s software should prompt you to plug in the keyboard, which is a nice touch.
This keyboard also comes with Easy-Switch technology, so it allows the user to switch between three different systems by just pressing one of three buttons, which is really convenient. I should also mention that the MX Master 3 mouse is a perfect match to go along with the MX Keys, not just because of how good they look together, but because as I mentioned in the MX Master 3 review users can use Logitech Flow to seamlessly switch cursors between two different systems. So if you pair the MX Keys along with the mouse, the keyboard will follow the mouse’s direction. If I hit CTRL+C to copy a file and then if I drive the cursor to my notebook and hit CTRL+V on the same keyboard the file gets transferred to my notebook, which is just freaking cool. I mean think about the possibilities of using this particular setup. If you’re someone who’s working in an environment where you need to switch between different systems at the same time, you just need to use one set of peripherals to control all of them. Because of the fact that the keyboard follows the mouse’s direction you can copy and paste files, you can also browse things typed up on a different computer, etc. I do see this as a one-size-fits-all solution for a lot of professionals out there.
Moving to the aforementioned software, the Logitech Options utility is very simple to navigate through. It’s a unified solution for all of your other Logitech accessories and as you can see I have the MX Master 3 and MX Keys set up. With the MX Keys you can customize the top function row to any command that you desire, and there is a load of options that Logitech has pre-built already. If you pay attention to the top right-hand side there are four custom buttons, by default they are set to open calculator, take a screenshot, open the app menu and lock the desktop. I assign the screen capture button to screen record videos using NVIDIA’s ShadowPlay and it works amazingly. I’m not sure about the labeling as it could get confusing if you program it with something else, perhaps numbering them would have helped but that could just be me. And as I mentioned earlier, you can switch the F1 to F12 keys to standard mode by simply click the box on the left side.
I guess this brings us to the conclusion, and listen this isn’t the keyboard for everyone out there. It’s geared for people who are looking for something simple, efficient and somewhat feature-rich. I was particularly impressed with Logitech’s Flow feature, where the keyboard actually follows the direction of the mouse. Although you do need to buy a separate Logitech product to take full advantage of it, and both the MX Keys and MX Master 3 together comes to $200 USD, which is not cheap. It is expensive and it’s its own ecosystem, so that is a little bit of a bummer, but I do see it as being an attractive setup for certain demographic. Moving on, the switches are fantastic. In fact, I prefer this over Cooler Master’s mechanical SK lineup. While you can get away with a little bit of casual gaming, I obviously won’t recommend this for hardcore gamers out there.
I do wish that Logitech included or improved on a few things with this keyboard. First and foremost, they should have just included the wrist rest with the keyboard in the first place. I think they just tried to pull a classic Apple move by selling this for an extra $20. I don’t know why they did that. Second, it would’ve been nice to have some angle adjustments with his keyboard to elevate it a little bit when necessary. Third, I personally think it would have been nice of them to offer a TKL version of this keyboard for those of us who don’t need the additional number keys. And finally, there’s the price. At $100 USD I think it’s priced appropriately, especially considering that this is a premium product. Logitech hasn’t cut any corners with the MX Keys, it comes with a lot of features, and if you’re looking for a really slick low profile keyboard this is definitely going to be on my recommended list. By the way, if you’re an Apple user using an iMac or something like that, and you want to try something different from the Apple Magic Keyboard that goes for $150 USD, you should definitely give try product a shot. I think you’re gonna enjoy your experience with the MX Keys. So that pretty much wraps up my thoughts about the MX Keys from Logitech, let me know what you guys think about it.