(Updated on May 15, 2012 to correct some functionality comments.)

I’ve had a long if not necessarily constant love affair with computer accessories from Logitech. So when the company came out with a wireless keyboard similar to Apple’s aluminum keyboard, I had to try it.  In addition to copying the Apple layout, the keyboard is solar-powered but, even better, has a number pad unlike Apple’s current wireless keyboard, making it more useful than the Apple’s.

I first saw mention of the keyboard on some website review; when I looked into purchasing it, no stores in the local area had one so I went to the Logitech website itself.  That was several weeks ago, and the keyboard was listed “out of stock” everywhere I could find that sold it.  About a week ago, I noticed that the online store at Logitech had the keyboard, which comes in several “colored” versions, in the color I wanted (silver) and in stock.  So, I ordered it.  While it took Logitech a couple of days to ship it, it arrived a couple of a days ago.  Even so, I wanted to capture my first impressions.

The differences between the Logitech keyboard and the Apple aluminum wired keyboard are not huge.  The Logitech is set-off by the row of solar cells that cover its top and a small strip above the number pad and parallel to the Function keys.  The strip contains lights that show you whether the keyboard is getting adequate light and contains an ON/OFF switch.  Other than that, the keyboard is almost identical to the Apple wired keyboard.  The keys are the “Chiclet” type but are slightly smaller and more rounded on the tops and their feel is a little more “bouncy”.  I happen to like that at the moment and don’t think that anyone used to typing on the Apple keyboard will find it much different, though it may prove to be more tiring and therefore noticeable when typing a long document.

The function keys are a bit lower on the keyboard due to the solar cell row but are still at the top of the keyset and are marked identically to the ones on Apple’s aluminum keyboard.  This means the icons are really more appropriate to Snow Leopard or earlier rather than Lion, though I’ve always considered that a very minor inconvenience.  I have used the keys as they are marked and not as “straight” function keys, and there are gripes in Logitech forums about them not functioning properly as such.  I have not tested that area.  But if you use the keyboard in the same way you would an Apple wired keyboard, you will see no differences.

The most problematic thing about the keyboard is it has consistently refused to be paired with its own Unifying Receiver.  If you have the latest version of Logitech Control Center loaded, when you insert the Unifying Receiver into a USB port on your system, the LCC will recognize it and add a tab in its window (called up by going to System Preferences/Logitech Control Center) for the Unifying Receiver software.  (In case you don’t know what that’s about, the latest Logitech peripherals –marked with an orange Unifying Receiver logo–can share a single wireless receiver plug with up to five peripherals.  That said, the range of devices that can use this feature is not very large; my Logitech MX620 mice must still have their own radio receivers plugged in to work.)  The software will lead you through a procedure to pair up these devices with the receiver; and it has consistently failed on my Mac Pro and my MacBook Air, both running Lion.  Luckily, it has not affected the operation of the keyboard, i.e., the keyboard does not have to be paired with the receiver to work.  That’s a good thing if you want to use your K750 for Mac keyboard with more than one Mac; the software will only let you pair the keyboard with one machine.

One big question you should have if you are considering this keyboard is how much light it takes to keep it happy.  The keyboard has two small lights on its upper right quadrant that will give you immediate feedback as to whether you are feeding it enough light when you press a “test” button near them.  In my office, I do have a two windows with shades usually drawn, one 60 watt light overhead in a ceiling fan just slightly behind my seat, and another 150 watt lamp in the nearest corner to my workstations.  With only the overhead light on, the keyboard does not get enough light to keep it happy.  With both lights on or the 60-watt on and the shades opened during the day, the keyboard reports it is “happy” (green light).  In general, a well lit room will keep the keyboard happy but it’s all going to be a function of where the shadows are and how much light you’re talking about.  In addition to running the corner light more, I open at least one window shade and set the keyboard in its direct lighting during the day when I am not using it.  I have had no episodes of the keyboard shutting down because it was out of juice, but my use so far has not been extensive. There is a “Solar App” software application that you can download to help you manage the keyboard’s energy state, but how useful it really is I can’t say.

Another big question you probably are interested in is whether the Option key will work during an initial system boot or restart to allow you to select a boot disk.  I am happy to report that it works just fine.  Also, I booted into Windows 7 Ultimate using Boot Camp and that operating system had no trouble responding to the keyboard but the  CD/DVD eject function keys do not work nor do any of the other Apple-related special functions. You’ll have to decide if this is a show-stopper for you.  They do work with Windows XP Pro running under VMWare Fusion 3.1.3. and 4, but I think that’s because OS X is still controlling the functions.   Unfortunately, loading up the Windows versions of Logitech’s SetPoint software do not solve the problem, probably because it doesn’t properly recognize the keyboard.

I ordered my keyboard directly from Logitech; it was packaged in a brown box with black stamped letters that looked more like a refurbished item box than a retail box.  At $59.99, it’s not a cheap keyboard nor is it expensive either.  Its wireless form has decluttered my desk a bit at the price of one less USB port; but for now, I am happy with this purchase.   If you’re looking for a wireless keyboard that uses the standard Apple layout and has a number pad, then this one may be for you.  Unlike Apple’s Bluetooth keyboards, it is responsive from the moment the machine boots, as long as you remember to turn on it’s ON switch before you boot up.