If there’s one Big Tech Question you have to ask about the Logitech Craft keyboard, it’s this: who in their right mind would pay £180 for a keyboard?
For that money, it has to do something extraordinary. And that something is the dial in the top-left hand corner of the keyboard, or as Logitech calls it: the Crown. (Which is apt, given they’re charging a king’s ransom for it.)
The Crown is like a miniature version of the Surface Dial, the chrome knob that Microsoft sells with its easel-like Surface Studio. The Crown’s used to adjust settings and parameters in various Microsoft and Adobe apps: Word, Excel, Photoshop and InDesign to name but a few.
The Adobe apps are where it’s most at home, because they most easily lend themselves to dial controls. Select the brush tool in Photoshop, for example, and you can adjust the size and hardness of the brush simply by tapping and twiddling the crown. In InDesign, you can zoom in and out of the document you’re working on, or scroll quickly to a new page in a multi-page layout without having to swish the mouse across the screen or rely on keyboard shortcuts. There are dozens of different uses for the dial, depending on which feature you’re using at the time – Logitech’s FAQ pages handily break these down application by application.
At other times, and particularly in the Microsoft apps, it feels like the dial is searching for a reason to be. Being able to horizontally scroll across massive Excel spreadsheets is reasonably handy, as is adjusting the font size of a passage of highlighted text, but was anyone crying out for a way to quickly adjust the theme of their Word doc by twiddling a knob? Or to scroll to a new tab in the web browser? It’s far easier to pick the theme/tab you want with the mouse than it is to laboriously scroll through them in order using the wheel.
Application support also remains limited for the time being. The Logitech software confusingly offers to provide dial controls for applications such as Adobe Lightroom and Paint.Net, but offers no contextual controls when you use them. Logitech assures me it’s working to expand app support, but it shouldn’t highlight them in its own software until it does.
Logitech Craft: build quality
You can question the value of the Crown (not you, Ma’am), but there’s no doubting the build quality of the keyboard. It is thunkingly well built – the best desktop keyboard I’ve ever laid my fingers on.
The keys are perfectly spaced and laid out, and each key is indented to help fat-fingered oafs such as me land perfectly on the desired key. The keyboard is more akin to that you’ll find on a high-end laptop than a desktop, but that’s no criticism: there’s just the right amount of travel under each key, it’s not rattly, and there’s a full set of function keys and a numeric keypad on the right for gamers.
The dial is immaculately constructed, too. Cold to the touch and perfectly weighted, it feels like a high-end piece of hi-fi equipment. The gentlest of taps on the Crown brings up the on-screen menu showing appropriate options for the app you’re using at the time – you simply tap the Crown to scroll through those options, and then twiddle the dial like a safe-cracker to adjust.
The keyboard is compact, but solid. It definitely won’t slide away under the fingers of even the most aggressive typist, but the typing position is fixed – there’s no adjustable legs to alter the keyboard’s height.
Logitech Craft: wireless connectivity
If your PC or laptop has Bluetooth built in, the Craft can supposedly connect straight to your computer. However, I couldn’t establish a direct connection between the keyboard and my Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga – the computer could see the keyboard but they repeatedly failed to pair. Handily, Lenovo supplies a small Bluetooth dongle in the box and once I plugged that in, everything worked fine – albeit at the expense of a precious USB port.
The Craft’s battery is meant to last a working week of heavy 9-5 use, and that seems an accurate boast. I’ve now been using it solidly for five working days, and the battery is on its last legs. The keyboard can be recharged from the supplied USB cable, allowing you to continue working whilst the battery’s replenished.
Logitech Craft: verdict
Overall, I’m hugely torn on the merits of the Logitech Craft. I’m a heavy user of the Adobe and Microsoft apps the Crown is geared towards, but has it made a fundamental difference to the way I use them? Has my productivity zonked skywards by the Crown’s mere presence? No and no. It’s undeniably handy in certain scenarios, but they’re just too few and far between at present. In fact, the most use the Crown has got is turning the volume up and down in Spotify. That’s one expensive volume knob.
That said, the keyboard itself is a magnificent specimen, and I’ll be hiding from the courier when he comes to collect my review sample. But would I hand him £180 in exchange for it? Sadly not, but I’d be sorely tempted if the price ever dropped closer to two figures.