Hardware

Logitech MK850 Performance review: the wireless keyboard and mouse for PC and Mac switchers?

Logitech MK850 Performance review
Switch between three different systems at the touch of a button. Clever.

The Logitech MK850 Performance is a curious wireless mouse and keyboard combo. As its £99 price hints, it’s aimed at serious users, but while other manufacturers justify their high prices with ergonomic designs or bags of features, Logitech offers both.

Its key differentiator is that you can pair the MK850 with three separate computers at once. So, you could plug the supplied USB dongle in your Mac, say, and then use Bluetooth to pair with your Windows laptop and iOS tablet. Or use Bluetooth for all three.

Things get really clever once you install Logitech Options on said Mac and laptop. Now, if you enable Logitech Flow, you can switch from one computer to the other simply by swishing left or right – just like an extended desktop, the cursor will jump from one screen to another.

Logitech MK850 Performance review
This is one customisable mouse

As if that wasn’t darn clever enough, you can even cut and paste between two computers. And you can link the keyboard too: it follows the mouse’s lead as to which device has the focus.

So, all ingenious stuff, but don’t imagine it’s perfect. I had problems with dropped connections during my fortnight using the MK850 as my main keyboard and mouse, and sometimes had to restart Bluetooth on my laptop to make the mouse recognise my system again.

That’s one of the reasons I ended up sticking to manual selection, but that’s easy enough. A small button sits under the 1 | 2 | 3 module on the left of the mouse, and when you switch a white LED flashes to show which device is active (so 1 might be your Mac, 2 your tablet, etc).

Similarly, three white buttons sit to the right of the MK850’s keyboard, so flicking between the paired systems is easy.

Logitech MK850 Performance review: the keyboard

Logitech MK850 Performance review keyboard
Logitech has given the keyboard an ergonomic hump

The keyboard is also noteworthy for its subtle ergonomic design. A keyboard is typically flat, but the MK850 has a small crest at the middle of the main keys. So, the R points very slightly to the left; the U very slightly to the right.

This is meant to be a more natural angle for fingers to hit down, and it does make sense, but I found my muscle memory needed a tweak. Far less so than when I’ve played around with “full” ergonomic keyboards, but it led to more mistakes initially.

You have a choice of three angles for the whole keyboard: flat, four degrees or eight degrees. I found the four-degrees choice the most comfortable.

There’s a built-in foam rest for the palms of your hand as well. I suspect it’s better for typists over the long-term than sitting flat on a desk, and certainly far less annoying than those third-party wrist rests.

The MK850’s keys are too clacky for my taste – our not-at-all patented Big Tech Question audio recording of the keyboard followed by the clicking of the mouse sits below this paragraph – but they aren’t annoying. Similarly, I find it hard to get worked up by the lack of feedback from the keys, but would have preferred more substance when I pressed down.

One final note: Logitech squeezes in a Fn key to the left of the spacebar, so rather than the Ctrl | Start | Alt you may be used to, there’s Ctrl | Fn | Start | Alt. And all the keys are smaller than a standard desktop keyboard. You may not find that annoying; it took me a while to get used to.

Anyone switching between Macs and a Windows system may well appreciate the dedicated Apple symbols on the board, so you don’t need to think twice about where the Command key is, but note this is a keyboard with stickers on rather than lasered-on symbols. After a year, the major keys will have faded.

Logitech MK850 Performance review: the mouse

Logitech MK850 Performance review mouse
Not great for lefties, but everyone else will love this highly customisable mouse

Logitech aficionados may have already spotted that this is in fact the Triathlon M720 mouse, which is available to buy on its own for around £40. But that’s fine by me. I’ve been using the M720 on and off since its release, and it’s a brilliant example of its kind.

I particularly like how snugly it sits under the hand; if anyone was to ask me what size and shape a mouse should be, I would point to the M720. It doesn’t have any ergonomic aspirations but that’s okay; the annoyance will be for left-handers, who will find the shortcut buttons sit inconveniently under the left index finger.

You can customise these in any number of ways through the Logitech Options software. For example, you can assign a hotkey, launch any application of your wishes or use one of the dozens of presets that Logitech offers – from copy or paste to switching between desktops.

Logitech MK850 Performance review: battery life and verdict

One of the big advantages of choosing Logitech over cheaper rivals is that it evidently understands how annoying batteries can be. You need a single AA battery for the mouse and two AAA batteries for the keyboard and they’re both rated to last for years rather than months: two years for the mouse, three years for the keyboard.

So is it worth almost £100? If you take advantage of all its features, then yes. In particular, if you have two systems that you’re constantly switching between then you’ll fall in love with its hot-swapping abilities. There’s also no doubt that this is a high-quality set of peripherals.

If you think of yourself as a power user, then the MK850 Performance is a terrific buy.

Read this next: The slightly cheaper but also rather nice Cherry B.Unlimited 3.0 wireless keyboard and mouse

Logitech MK850 Performance wireless keyboard and mouse
  • Features
  • Typing quality
  • Mousing quality
4.3

Verdict

Not the perfect mouse and keyboard, but the hot-switching ability is great for those who flit between different computers

About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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