A Different Way of Working from Home - Logitech MX Keys + M720 Review

A Different Way of Working from Home - Logitech MX Keys + M720 Review
Photo by Aditya Rathod / Unsplash

1 Context

I work in the field of data science. At the office, we use desktop computers with dual monitors, equipped with standard HP keyboards and mice. At home, I use a 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2015, and I've been accustomed to using the built-in keyboard and trackpad of Mac, so I didn't have any additional keyboards or mice. Since I didn't spend much time using the computer at home in the past, I never thought about upgrading my computer or the accompanying devices.
Recently, my company arranged for remote work, and I found myself spending much more time on the computer daily. When coding on my laptop, I unconsciously leaned my head forward, which eventually led to a sore neck. To address this issue, I purchased a stand to elevate my computer, ensuring that my posture remains upright as much as possible. However, after setting up the elevated computer, I realized that using the trackpad and the built-in keyboard for an extended period caused discomfort in my wrist joints due to an unnatural position. As a result, I reluctantly started looking for a keyboard and mouse. :)

2 Device Requirements

Compared to many programmers, I am not particularly interested in mechanical keyboards, but there are a few essential requirements that the devices must meet:

  • Keyboard layout should be macOS-friendly.
  • Wireless.
  • Convenient for multi-device switching since I often do lightweight work on my iPad.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.

Of course, I didn't spend much time researching keyboards on the market since my primary focus was on office needs. Therefore, I narrowed down my options to Logitech keyboards. Logitech offers a wide range of keyboards, with prices ranging from 100 to over 1000, meeting the needs of most people. Since I didn't plan to upgrade my keyboard for a long time, I decided to make a one-time investment. Consequently, I looked at the keyboards in reverse order of price and two contenders stood out:

  • Logitech Craft
  • Logitech MX Keys

Currently, there is a price difference of ¥100 to ¥200 between these two keyboards on a online shopping website. Initially, I was inclined towards Craft, which was priced at 1700 when it was released in 2017. Its innovative knob looked quite appealing. In comparison, MX Keys was released in September 2019 and seemed to be a Craft without the innovative knob. Upon careful consideration, I realized that the innovative knob required additional learning and didn't offer much utility for a programmer. Moreover, the absence of the innovative knob made the MX Keys' design more sleek and compact. With the backlight function enabled, the MX Keys' battery life is two days longer than that of Craft, and it is also compatible with iOS and iPadOS.

Specs comparison

3 MX Keys + M720

If you don't particularly like the creative knob, choosing MX Keys is probably a better choice for most people. So I changed my mind and bought MX Keys for 899 yuan, plus 59 yuan for a three-year replacement plan, making a total of 958 yuan.

Logitech MX Keys box

After the logistics speed basically returned to normal after the Spring Festival, I received the keyboard two days after placing the order. The packaging is decent, although I haven't bought other keyboards before, so I can't make a direct comparison. Personally, I think the packaging of MX Keys is good. Since MX Keys was released together with MX Master 3, the packaging box also explicitly recommends using it together with MX Master 3 to maximize the performance of this set of equipment. However, at that moment, I hesitated because I bought a stand for a few tens of yuan to elevate my computer, which made me feel like I had been tricked into buying a 2000-yuan keyboard and mouse. So I looked around for alternatives to MX Master 3 and watched several mouse recommendation videos from 2020. In the end, I chose the cost-effective Logitech M720 and bought it on JD.com for ¥199. The reasons for choosing M720 are as follows:

  • The mouse has a full and comfortable grip.
  • It has all the necessary function keys and good compatibility with macOS, iOS, and iPadOS.
  • It can quickly switch between devices.
  • The theoretical battery life is 2 years, and it uses replaceable AA batteries.
  • Cost-effective - Cost-effective - Cost-effective 🙂

4 Experience

After setting up this keyboard and mouse, my neck and wrists no longer hurt. It has definitely improved my efficiency when using it in conjunction with my Mac and iPad.

MX Keys and M720

Both MX Keys and M720 support Bluetooth connectivity for up to 3 devices. After the initial connection, you can quickly switch between devices by pressing the 1, 2, or 3 keys on the keyboard and mouse. The keyboard and mouse can also be connected to the computer using the same receiver. In actual use, I found that the device switching is almost instant, but custom settings such as mouse scrolling speed take about a second to update. As for custom functions, after downloading Logitech Options from the official website, users can customize key functions for different applications. However, the custom functions can only be selected from Logitech's preset list.

Custom settings for MX Keys
Custom settings for M720

Logitech Options supports cloud synchronization of settings. By logging in with the same account on different devices, all settings can be synchronized, eliminating the hassle of readjusting them. Overall, the software functions are sufficient. The hardware manufacturing quality is also consistently high.

MX Keys backlights

The keycaps of MX Keys are slightly concave in the middle, which reduces the chance of accidental key presses compared to the built-in keyboard on the Mac. The key travel is almost the same as the Mac's keyboard, but the key rebound of MX Keys is crisper. Overall, the typing experience is better than the built-in Mac keyboard. The keyboard's aesthetics are also great, and the white backlight is very useful in low-light environments. I personally like the ambient light around the keycaps 🙂

MX Keys has an object detection feature. When the backlight is enabled, the keyboard automatically lights up when it detects an object approaching and turns off when the object moves away. However, when the backlight is turned on, the theoretical battery life decreases from 50 days to 7 days. After the battery is depleted, you can use the included USB-C to USB-A cable for charging. To optimize battery life, I turned off the backlight, and it doesn't affect usability in well-lit environments.

Number keys

As a full-sized keyboard, MX Keys has traditional function keys and a numeric keypad. The multifunction

keys above the numeric keypad are very convenient to use. The default settings allow you to launch the calculator, take screenshots, look up definitions, and lock the screen. Of course, these key functions can also be changed in Logitech Options.

M720 functions button on the left side

The combination of MX Keys and M720 works very efficiently on macOS. The side buttons on the mouse can be used for various Mac trackpad gestures, and the additional physical buttons can provide quick access to more functions, such as forward and backward navigation while browsing the web. The only inconvenience is the zooming function, which is done by default by pressing Fn and dragging the mouse up or down. However, I rarely use the zoom function, so it doesn't affect my overall experience much.

On iPadOS, when using an external mouse and keyboard, the virtual keyboard will only display the currently entered content and won't cover the screen, avoiding obstructing the view.

Typing on iPad with an external keyboard

It's worth mentioning that the functional keys on the keyboard and mouse, such as switching apps, adjusting volume, and taking quick screenshots, also work. This is undoubtedly very convenient. The combination of iPadOS and an external mouse and keyboard gives the iPad a completely new feel. It feels like you have earned back the money spent. Although I haven't experienced Logitech's promoted cross-device file transfer Flow feature, the other features and experiences are satisfying.

5 Conclusion

In summary, MX Keys + M720 is a combination of efficiency and cost-effectiveness that can fully meet daily office needs. It theoretically provides a good experience on macOS, iPadOS, iOS, and Windows. The hardware quality is reliable, and the software provides users with a certain degree of customization. At this time point in March 2020, it is still a very good choice.