The Logitech Illuminated Keyboard is about as simple as it gets, so you get no built-in USB ports, scroll dials, or any of the other features in more expensive devices such as the Logitech G15. Instead, for $80 it offers a sexy, quiet keyboard with a very minimalist design that looks just as good as it performs. If you're a night owl gamer or just want an attractive, comfortable input device, the Logitech Illuminated Keyboard is an outstanding choice.
The keyboard has a very subtle, professional appearance; aside from the extremely thin 9.3mm profile, the entire keyboard is black with a small clear plastic border that doesn't serve a purpose other than to highlight the flat surface of the keys. A built-in wrist rest fixed beneath the keys is covered in a soft rubber material to prevent your hands from slipping while you type. After using the keyboard for a few days, the natural oil on our hands made small prints on the wrist rest, creating blotches that marred the otherwise clean design.
Underneath the keyboard, you'll find two small plastic feet that extend from the base, letting you slightly angle the keyboard forward. Finally, as the title says, the keyboard comes with embedded microlens reflectors under each individual key that produce a light-blue backlit effect. You can adjust the intensity of the light to three predetermined settings; you can also turn it off, if you so choose.
The keyboard is plug-and-play, so you don't have to install drivers, but if you want to specify macros or customize any of the 12 shortcut keys, you need to install Logitech's SetPoint 4.6KB software. The included CD lets you designate each key to perform a variety of functions including opening a Web page, showing a custom menu, opening a specified file, or launching a program. The SetPoint desktop software also includes a help center that contains tips on how to get the most comfortable experience out of the Logitech keyboard.
Similar to Logitech's higher-end diNovo Edge, the Illuminated Keyboard features Logitech's PerfectStroke key design. PerfectStroke allows for 3.2mm of space between each key and uniform tactile feedback across the entire flat key surface. In practice, the key response is similar to that of an IBM Thinkpad laptop. If you're used to typing on a regular keyboard with concave keys, the Illuminated Keyboard will be an acquired taste. Your accuracy might suffer in the interim, but we found ourselves typing significantly faster after less than a week of using it.
Although it is undoubtedly attractive and works well, the Logitech can use some improvement in the hardware design. First, the keyboard lacks the extra USB ports that we typically see on keyboards at this price. We complained about the Logitech G15's outdated USB 1.1 ports, so we have to ding Logitech again for not even including one port into this design. Granted, the keyboard's slim profile doesn't allow for much room for hardware extensions, but we'd sacrifice a slightly thicker housing for the increased functionality. We're also disappointed to see that the keyboard uses USB 2.0 instead a wireless RFID transmitter for connectivity. The clean aesthetic of the keyboard is almost spoiled by the unsightly gray wire protruding from the top, but if you're a closet gamer you'll appreciate the accuracy you get in a wired set up.
For your consideration, the Saitek Eclipse II Illuminated Keyboard is another illuminated keyboard that came out two years ago for $70. Its price is now down to $45; the Logitech is almost double the price, and we're quick to complain about its lack of features, but we think the higher price is justified by its elevated comfort and modern style.