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Logitech's K380 Keyboard Can Take on Any OS

BERLIN – Last year at IFA, Logitech unveiled the K480, a Bluetooth keyboard that could transition easily from typing on a computer to a tablet to a phone. In the year since that debut, Logitech has taught its keyboards some new tricks. The latest model — the K380 — is even more portable and can adapt to five different operating systems automatically.

I went hands-on with the $40 K380, which arrives this October. As an experienced typist, I was reasonably pleased with my experience.

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The K380 is a small keyboard with shallow, circular membrane keys. It can connect to three different devices simultaneously, and switch between them at the push of a button. As long as a device has Bluetooth functionality and runs Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS or Chrome OS, the K380 can probably pair with it.

The biggest change from last year's model is the keyboard's size. While the K480 sported a shallow groove to support a tablet or smartphone (or both), the K380 aims for ultimate portability, eschewing the stand entirely. In theory, this should make it easier for users to incorporate the stand into their existing setups.

In another big difference, the K380 can recognize the operating system to which it's connected and adjust button commands accordingly. Hook it up to a Mac, and it will recognize the command button, while F5 will seamlessly switch between apps on Android.

As far as actual typing goes, the device is OK. While the circular keys look incredibly cool, they take a little getting used to. I spent a few minutes typing out a patter song from The Pirates of Penzance, and I made more errors than I’m accustomed to, usually by hitting an adjacent button or bypassing the proper key entirely. The keys provide little resistance, and the shallow key travel took some getting used to.

The learning curve seems like a fair trade-off, however, for what appears to be an extremely portable and versatile device. With regular use, the K380 can last up to two years on two AA batteries, which means that users should have plenty of time to get used to its idiosyncratic buttons.