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I See the Light
March 23, 2011 - Dave Hecei
Two years ago, work gave me a nice MacBook 13-inch to use to administer all our computers. It's the one with the Core 2 Duo processor, unibody construction, but with no Firewire Port. Since it replaced a G4-upgraded Pismo PowerBook, I was willing to suffer with no Firewire.
We fast forward to just a few months ago when I treated myself to my own Mac laptop. I fell into an amazing MacBook Pro deal - the 15-inch MacBook Pro 2.53GHz unibody. It does have Firewire, FW800, but it has something that I think all laptops should now have - a backlit keyboard.
Yes this might be considered a luxury item, but now that I have used a laptop with one, I can't stand using a keyboard without it. For most of the time, the backlight is not really being used. But the black keys with thin white letters on them really don't lend themselves to being seen in a dimly lit room, let along a dark one.
I have even thought about getting backlit keyboards for my desktops. After searching the web, and my favorite shopping sites, I came upon the Logitech K800 wireless keyboard. It was down to this one or one of the Razer gaming keyboards. The problem is that neither is really a Mac keyboard. What that really means is the Option and Command keys are not labeled - instead there is a Windows and Alt Key.
To add to the problem, hitting the key which should be labeled Command actually hits the Option and vice-versa. On most Windows keyboards this is not a problem since there is a setting in the keyboard control panel to swap those keys. For some reason this doesn't seem to work on the Logitech K800. Another Google search brings up a nifty keyboard remapping utility for OS X that can swap those keys. It's called DoubleCommand and it can be found on sourceforge.net.
I haven't used either of these keyboards at length, only just to play and test. Either of these would be great if you want a backlit keyboard for your desktop Mac. I do like the Logitech, it has a solid feel, nice lighting, and is wireless. It has proximity sensors that turn on the backlight when your hands get close to the keyboard.
The only negative would be battery life. I have not been able to really test battery life on the K800. Logitech states that at full charge you should get about 10 days. The K800 comes with NiMH rechargeable batteries that are charged by connecting the keyboard to a micro-USB cable. Charging can be from three to six hours.
The Logitech K800 backlit wireless keyboard has a street price around $80.
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