By now we can all hear the steady ringing of a death knell for the traditional computer mouse. Apple has been quietly nudging us down the path for more than a decade, with multitouch touch pads, phones, and tablets, and Microsoft has gone all-in with its touch-based Windows 8 -- and, soon, 8.1 -- PC operating systems.
Of course, those with older, pre-touch-screen Windows hardware may still wish to ditch the mouse and upgrade to one of the newer Microsoft operating systems. And for those folks, Logitech offers the TK820: a keyboard and touch pad merged into a sleek package that gives you the speed of typing with the convenience of using all 13 Windows 8 touch-based gestures.
The base board is only 0.8 inch thick but the plastic has a healthy heft to it thanks to the rounded battery compartment on top that gives it a little extra weight and keeps the device from moving around. The bottom of the keyboard also has four rubber feet on each corner for this purpose as well.
In terms of design, I was disappointed to see that Logitech omits the retractable "feet" that allow you to control the amount of tilt on the keyboard. It's not a big deal, but it might be an issue if you're shopping for an ergonomic input device to address repetitive stress.
The surface of the base board as well as the keys themselves are a matte black shade that complements the subtle blue accents on the secondary F1-F12 keys, giving off an executive look without the uptight attitude.
If you tilt the keyboard onto its side, you'll notice the same royal-blue hue lining the perimeter, and Logitech seems to be extending this color scheme to other devices under the brand, including the Logitech UE Boombox and the UE9000 Bluetooth headphones.
This is a wireless keyboard and mouse set that shakes hands with your computer through the accompanying USB dongle. The TK820 is also a member of the Unifying family of peripherals made by Logitech that allows you to control several Logitech-branded devices using a single bite-size USB receiver -- its size also makes it convenient for sticking into tight spaces, like the back of an already crowded television set.
The keyboard is more or less the standard QWERTY layout, though the tenkeyless design means you'll have to use the number row to input digits. Additionally, you'll notice that you also don't get any of the keys that normally appear just to the left of the number pad, including Delete, Home/End, and Page Up/Page Down.
Instead, the Insert and Delete buttons are rerouted to the end of the function row and you have to hit the Fn shortcut button next to the Windows key if you want to quickly jump down the page.
The keys themselves are part of Logitech's PerfectStroke system that gives your fingers uniform tactile feedback across the entire surface of the key, instead of one "sweet spot" in the center.
The keys themselves feel flat but are actually slightly concave, which makes for a very pleasant experience. Actually, the only keys that carry a different height profile are the space bar, arrow, function, and hot keys, which are all slightly bulbous to keep you hands from drifting too far away from where they need to be.
In practice, the key response is similar to most laptop keyboards, and you shouldn't have too much of a learning curve to adjust to the keyboard. Don't get too comfortable, though -- all that extra time might be needed to get used to the touch pad.
Though it may look similar, the touch pad is actually different from the Logitech Touchpad T650 -- mainly, it isn't topped with glass and the dimensions are slightly smaller, neither of which makes a big difference while you're actually using it.
The pad on the TK820 is 4.17 inches by 4.17 inches, which is obviously more than a typical laptop tracking surface and large enough that I never felt like my fingers weren't getting the real estate needed to scroll across Web sites and long spreadsheets. The surface is all one unified button with no demarcation line on top separating left- and right-click, though it's actually really easy to use.
Yes, it's true that touch pads lack the precision clicking necessary to perform tasks in Photoshop as well as in PC games, but it redeems itself with the unlimited amount of gestures controls available for your customization.
You can use the included Logitech SetPoint software to adjust the default settings, but the touch pad is well set up to work with Windows 8 and all 13 of its multitouch controls, including swiping up and down with four fingers to maximize and minimize windows, or sliding in from the left to open the Charms bar.
All of these features work just as they do directly on touch screen all-in-ones, and once you're used to it, there's no reason why your productivity can't go up along with your speed.
The lack of support for Macs is another disappointment. To be clear, you can plug the TK820 into an iMac or a MacBook and make it work with a key remapper, but you won't get the multitouch benefits of something like the Apple Magic Trackpad, and only the left and right clickers are supported, so it's more like a standard mouse and keyboard setup.
On the other hand, if the rest of Logitech's peripherals are any indication of the future, it's safe to assume that Mac users will get a TK820 of their own soon.
You'll need four AA batteries to power the TK820, and Logitech includes a set of Duracell batteries to get you started. Four probably seems like a lot until you hear that Logitech promises six months of battery life. Obviously, I haven't had it for that long so I can't make a judgment call on that claim yet, but that number is too impressive not to call out in this review. It's a little strange that there's no way to tell how long you have left in the batteries' life cycle, though -- hopefully the next version will include a couple LEDs to address this issue.
If you're on board with motion gestures as an alternative to using a mouse and are shopping for an input device that gives you the freedom to scroll with your fingers, the Logitech TK820 earns your attention. You get both a keyboard and a large touch pad with gesture controls for Windows 8 built in for $100 -- and even though I wish it had rechargeable batteries and backlit keys, there's not a lot to complain about this package deal.