Short review: Logitech K400r vs Plexgear Mediatrack Ergo
Keyboards for the couch potato
I have just recently hooked up a dedicated PC to my TV to use it as a media center. This obviously calls for a suitable device to operate it with. I am not ready to ditch the keyboard for a "real" remote just yet, so in order to comfortably control the PC from the couch, I looked at two options: The Logitech K400r and the Plexgear Mediatrack Ergo (AKA MCSaite W9710RF AKA Generic Wireless Trackball Keyboard). Read on for a short review and comparison.
Two keyboards - one concept
The two devices build on the same concept - provide a nice keyboard for the couch, with mouse functionality. They also cost about the same - around some 45 EUR.
What I like about both keyboards is that they offer different options how to move the mouse depending on whether you are holding the device or have put it on a flat surface. Logitech allows clicking on the left side, Plexgear takes it a step further by also adding a right mouse button, and a clickable scrollwheel.
The first thing that struck me when I held the Plexgear keyboard was that it felt like a huge gaming controller. You hold it comfortably on each side and can operate the trackball with your right thumb, clicking with the right index finger and scrolling with the left. This quite comfortable, especially when you use the keyboard without a flat surface - like standing up, or having it on your lap. There are mouse buttons on the left as well.
The layout of the mouse buttons and trackball opens up some interesting possibilities - while it may not beat a real mouse and keyboard, it worked surprisingly well to play casual FPS:es with this thing. With the Logitech, this was a rather awkward experience.
Instead of a trackball, Logitech went with a multi-touch touchpad. Like the Plexgear, you can move the mouse with your right thumb and click with your left - they actually added a click button to the top left. If on a flat surface, a better way to operate it might be to left-click with the button under the touchpad, or by using the touchpad itself. Right-clicking is done by a two-finger tap, scrolling by moving two fingers. This may take a while to get used to.
Both keyboards feel a bit light and cheap, and none provide a numeric keyboard, so I don't recommend using any of these if you type a lot. That said, the Logitech is the clear winner here. The keys are large and the layout pretty much what you'd expect. It is also quiet to type on.
The Plexgear is more difficult to type on, and feels and sounds very plasticky - as opposed to the Logitech's rather rubbery feel. The layout is a but unusual, and I often found myself pressing the context menu button to the bottom right, thinking it was where the right arrow should be. And the left Alt key is not immediately next to the space key, which I am used to.
No big deal it may seem, but I never felt at home typing on the Plexgear. The Logitech could do with some more dedicated media buttons instead of combining them with the function keys, but it still wins hands down. (Note on the media keys: For a combination like Alt-F4, it is not necessary to press the FN key. Good thinking there.)
Reception and the receivers
Basically - reception is about the same. I thought I would be able to connect the receiver to the back of the PC and have good reception from my couch some 3 meters away, but the signal was sporadic at best - with both keyboards. I used a cable to bring the receiver to the front and that did the trick. I was expecting a bit more but that's just life I guess.
- Feels and plays like a gaming controller
- Dedicated scroll wheel
- Difficult to type on
- Patchy build quality (had to return two because buttons not working etc.)
- Plexgear is not even a brand, this is actually a generic chinese product with a logo slapped on
- Small receiver
- Typing experience basically like regular keyboard
- Two-finger scrolling with the touchpad a bit awkward (dedicated scrolling wheel on the left side of the keyboard would have been cool)
In conclusion, I would say Logitech is the winner. I liked just holding the Plexgear, but typing is much better on the Logitech. And I cannot quite recommend the Plexgear because they seem to have some quality control issues - although you might be luckier than me.
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