I have reviewed several Bluetooth keyboards here at iSource over the past three years, but I never get tired of taking a look at the latest and greatest, especially if it is from a top vendor like Logitech. However, in contrast to all of the mobile keyboard cases and covers that I have written about previously, their new Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard is not device-specific, or even mobile-specific. The Easy-Switch is a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard with backlit keys that will be just as good a fit on your desk as it will be in your gear bag. However, it does have a couple of key features that make it ideal for those like me, who have multiple mobile devices. Let’s take a closer look.
Design and Construction
The first thing I noticed when I took the Easy-Switch out of the box was how good it looks.
The two-toned topside, which is glossy plastic around and above the function keys, and aluminum underneath the rest of the keys, definitely catches the eye. It looks like a expensive, high-quality device that would be at home on any desk.
However, the eye can be fooled. The Easy-Switch isn’t flimsy, by any means, but it also isn’t as solid as the primary device it will likely be measured against, Apple’s own all-aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard. The bottom and sides of the Easy-Switch are plastic, and while it is has survived being toted around in my mobile gear bag for over a week without a dent or scratch, it can be bent or flexed slightly if you squeeze or bend it.
While that may be something that sadistic reviewers do when putting a new device through the ringer, thankfully most users (you know, normal people) will not. Despite the “give” that is inherent in most plastic, thr Easy-Switch should be durable enough to survive normal wear and tear, as well as the occasional drop.
The sides and bottom of the Easy-Switch are much more non-descript than the top, but still look good and feel durable enough.
I do like the fact that Logitech included rubber feet in the bottom corners of the keyboard, to keep it from sliding around when used on hard surfaces. That is always a welcomed addition on a keyboard.
Another aspect of the Easy-Switch’s design that I appreciate is how thin it is.
While Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard is thinner from the battery compartment to the front, the rear section of that device is larger, due to the fact that it uses AAA batteries for power. The Easy-Switch, on the other hand, has a rechargeable battery, and as such, is thinner overall.
Last, but most certainly not least, are the keys of the Easy-Switch. This is the design element that really put this keyboard over the top for me. As much as I have always liked the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard, which has excellent keys in its own right, the Easy-Switch takes things to the next level.
I have gotten so used to mobile keyboards over the past few years, whether they be on a laptop, Chromebook, or Bluetooth Keyboard Case or Cover, that I can hardly type on the taller keys of a more traditional desktop keyboard anymore. Thankfully, the Easy-Switch’s key height is just right- not too flat, but not anything like that old dinosaur sitting on your desk at work, either.
The key feature (I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it) for me was the slight curve in the Easy-Switch’s keys. I’ve gotten used to keyboards with flat, island-style keys that have become so popular and common today. However, there is something to be said for designing keys with a slight curvature that fits the shape of your fingers. It is very comfortable to type on, and just feels perfect.
It doesn’t matter how good a keyboard looks or feels if it can’t do the job of putting your keystrokes into action. Thankfully, the Easy-Switch really shines here, as well. I am a notoriously ham-fisted typist, with bad technique and a heavy stroke. This has caused me some issues with other mobile keyboards in the past. I even have frequent doubles on my Samsung Chromebook, and even get them occasionally on my Dell Latitude laptop (which performs like a tank, otherwise).
While I’ve had my share of skips and doubled letters thanks to my own shortcomings, the Easy-Switch has taken everything I can dish out, and kept coming back for more. I haven’t had any issues in over a week of use, and that includes taking notes at a two day conference for work, and drafting three articles. Any keyboard that can take it from me, can probably take it from anybody.
A big reason that the Easy-Switch handles so well, no matter what your typing is like, is because off its silky smooth key action. I’ve come to appreciate this attribute, and how important it is to the overall performance of the keyboard, because no matter what size or shape the keys are, a stiff action will ruin any keyboard. All it takes is trying a keyboard with stiff, non-responsive keys to figure this out.
Battery life has almost become a non-issue with mobile Bluetooth keyboards these days. None of the ones that I have ever tested or reviewed has ever given me problems with battery life, and the Easy-Switch is no exception. I used it for over a week, most of that time with the backlight on, and it is still going strong.
According to the included documentation, the keyboard should last for ten days while using the backlight, and up to a year without it on a three hour charge during normal use (defined as two hours of typing per day). Ten days may seem anemic in comparison to the months that other mobile Bluetooth keyboards last, but I actually think this is pretty impressive considering how bright the backlight is at full strength. Also, if you are running low on battery, you can still use the keyboard while it is recharging via the Micro USB port on the back.
I just touched on how the Easy-Switch’s backlight affects battery life, but let’s dig into how well it performs. I’ve tried two backlit mobile keyboards now- Logitech’s Easy-Switch and ZAGG’s ZAGGkeys Pro Plus, and I would have to give a slight edge to the Easy-Switch for a couple of reasons. First, while the Pro Plus has some great features, such as multiple backlight colors, the Easy-Switch’s is brighter at the highest setting. It is bright enough that I can see it through the keys in a lit room. The light-up Logitech logo is a nice touch, as well.
The real killer feature, however, is Logitech’s very innovative battery saving feature. As soon as you remove your hands from the keys, the backlight starts to dim. After six seconds, it is completely turned off, helping to preserve battery life while backlighting isn’t necessary.
Then, thanks to an included proximity sensor, the Easy-Switch automatically turns the backlight back on as soon as your hands return to the keys.
This is such an innovative feature, in my opinion. It’s easy enough to temporarily disable the backlight based on a timed delay after a period of inactivity, and then turn it back on after a keystroke. This is how ZAGG designed their Pro Plus keyboard, and it worked fine. However, the ability to disable the backlight within seconds conserves as much battery life as possible. Also, since the proximity sensor turns the backlight back on when your hands get into position, you can see what you are doing before you return to typing.
As good as the backlight management is, the coolest and most useful feature of the Easy-Switch is the one it takes its name from. It has three separate Bluetooth buttons in its row of function keys.
When pairing the keyboard with a device, you can assign it to one of these three keys, allowing you to instantly swap back to it anytime you need to use it. For people like me, who have computers, smartphones, set top boxes such as an Apple TV (which just got official Bluetooth keyboard support from Apple), and multiple tablets, the ability to hot-swap a Bluetooth keyboard between three of them is an absolutely killer feature. During my testing, I had my iPhone, iPad Mini, and Nexus 10 all paired with the Easy-Switch, and never had an issue going back and forth between them. It certainly made life a whole lot easier.
Contender or Pretender?
I can understand how you might think the Logitech Easy-Switch seems a little too good to be true. However, I can assure you that it isn’t, as there are are only a couple of small negatives that I found in my testing. First off, because the Easy-Switch isn’t a mobile-specific keyboard, there aren’t any accessories or design enhancements that we see with some other products, such as a dock or a case.
In contrast, Logitech’s own Tablet Keyboard and ZAGG’s ZAGGkeys Flex both come with cases that double as tablet stands. At its price of $99, it would be nice if the Easy-Switch came with something simmilar for use with a phone or tablet, but with the included backlight features and fast device switching, the Easy-Switch is certainly still worth the price. While it is geared toward desktop duty out of the box, pairing the Easy-Switch with any number of device stands will take care of this issue.
The only other issue I could think of was the slight flexing and creaking of the plastic when under heavy stress, but this is a small one. The aluminum top section gives the keyboard plenty of strength, and the plastic is strong enough to withstand day to day use with no problems. I have carried this keyboard in my gear bag every day for several days, and it doesn’t show any signs of wear. If you are more inclined to use the Easy-Switch around the house, then you should get even more mileage out of it.
The Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard is the best keyboard that I have ever reviewed to-date, hands down. That isn’t to disparage the others that I have really enjoyed, such as the ZAGGkeys, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio, and the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard, either. They are all very solid devices, but all except the Apple keyboard are designed as cases or covers. Manufacturers have to make some tradeoffs in design, because these devices pull double duty. On the other hand, the Easy-Switch is simply designed to be high-quality and versatile wireless keyboard, and nothing else, which is a distinct advantage in this regard.
Apple’s own Bluetooth Keyboard has been the gold standard product in this full-sized wireless category since its release, and for good reason. It is rock solid in every respect. However, the curved keys, smooth key action, backlight, rechargeable battery, and multiple hot-swap Bluetooth pairings that the Easy-Switch offers make it the new king of the hill in my book. Whether you need a wireless keyboard to keep on your desk and switch between your iMac and Retina iPad, or one to go in your gear bag to use with your iPhone and iPad Mini, the Logitech Easy-Switch is currently the best device in its class.
The Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard is available for a retail price of $99.99.
The Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard was provided by Logitech for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.
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