Chrome OS can’t get no respect. While it’s a perfectly serviceable and surprisingly capable operating system, it has to adapt to a world of keyboards made for Windows. Well, no more! Logitech’s K580 is its first made specifically for Chrome.
Technically, this isn’t the first Chrome OS-branded keyboard on the market—that honor goes to Brydge’s keyboards in the online Google store, not to mention the various keyboards included with all-in-one Chrome desktop machines. But this is the first you’re likely to see on the shelves at Best Buy, conveniently marketed alongside machines that run the quickly-growing, web-based OS. Note that this is the Chrome-branded K580; there’s an older version of the same model with a Windows layout.
So, how is it? It’s fine—neither great, nor terrible. It’s acceptable for the $50 price tag. It’s much easier to use with a Chrome OS computer than a standard Windows-compliant keyboard, thanks to the properly-labeled and software-assigned keys.
But if you’re hoping for a keyboard to match the excellent keys on the Pixelbook or Pixelbook Go, you’ll probably be disappointed.
It’s All About the
The biggest problem with using a Windows-bound keyboard on Chrome is that the function row doesn’t match up. Even on desktops and all-in-ones, Chrome uses the F1-F12 keys for laptop-style controls, like volume, brightness, notifications, and so on.
Chrome’s default ANSI-style layout is a bit different, too. Older designs go without a meta (“Windows” key) and use oversized Ctrl and Alt buttons, and Caps Lock is replaced with a dedicated Search key (the equivalent of the Windows key). Later designs from Google have once again added the meta key and bound it to Assistant voice commands.
The K580 has all of these, and they all work (at least with the Pixel Slate that has become my go-to travel computer). Normally, I type on a home-built mechanical keyboard, and I’ve grown accustomed to the way Chrome OS adapts its input to a Windows-dominated world.
It’s convenient to have the correct Search and Assistant binds (so you don’t have to dive into the Settings menu). It’s also great to be able to adjust the volume and brightness without having to look up a table of key bindings.
Travels Well, but Meant for the Desktop
The K580 follows recent trends in mainstream keyboard design, i.e., it’s small and thin. Despite the full 10-key area, it’s only about an inch thick at the thickest point, and the membrane keys are clearly going for a laptop feel.
When it comes to how the keys feel, they’re okay—as good as any solid budget laptop board. They don’t stand up well to the scissor switches on the pricier Logitech designs, and I’d swap out the 10-key area for full-sized arrow and page up/page down keys.
Legends are printed with no backlight option, but at this price point, that’s not surprising. Like a lot of mainstream keyboards, it has a tray above the main deck for mobile devices, but I found this lacking in utility. It’s just wide enough to accommodate my Galaxy Note 8 in its case, but the angle at which it holds it makes it impractical for typing. It’s not wide enough for even a small tablet unless you use it in portrait mode. Even then, it won’t hold a full-size iPad.
Logitech claims the K580 has an 24-month battery life on the two included AAA batteries. Obviously, I haven’t tested the keyboard for that long, but it’s in line with other Logitech designs I’ve used.
To replace the batteries and get to the Unifying receiver, you pull up the plastic piece above the keys. It’s a tight, hidden little bay, and I had to check the product page to figure out where it was.
I’d swap the USB receiver hidey-hole for a wider, deeper tablet tray, but it’s still a pretty neat solution. It also prevents the batteries from popping out of the keyboard in your bag.
Multiple Device Capabilities
Like most of Logitech’s recent keyboard and mouse designs, the K580 is happy to pair over either Bluetooth or USB, using the included Unifying USB receiver. You can use the two dedicated buttons (where F11 and F12 would be on a Windows keyboard) to switch between two active connections.
I found that switching between my Windows desktop and Chrome laptop was easy—literally a single button press after everything was set up (it’s much faster over USB than Bluetooth, though).
However, using the K580 on Windows was another story. As the Search in Chrome is comparable to the Start button in Windows (and the latter has no easy way to re-bind keys), I had to remind myself to hit Caps Lock when I wanted to do a quick program search. The media controls worked, but things like Refresh and Full Screen don’t carry over in key binds. I had to use the Fn modifier a lot to make everything work.
That’s not Logitech’s fault, though. Chrome OS is better at adapting to Windows boards than Windows is at adapting to this Chrome-focused design. But it’s worth remembering if you’re hoping for a similar setup.
If you want your keyboard to switch between Windows and Chrome OS, buy for Windows first.
The Best in a Limited Field
If you want a Chrome OS keyboard as a wireless laptop add-on or as an upgrade to the one that came with your Chromebox, you can choose either the $50 K580 or the $100 Brydge C-type. I haven’t tried the latter, so I have no problem recommending the former.
It does everything it promises, works with multiple devices, and gives you an acceptable desktop board on a budget. Just keep in mind, it’s harder to use with Windows than you might like. However, if that’s a major concern, the K580 probably isn’t for you, anyway.
Here’s What We Like
- Perfect key bindings for Chrome
- Thin and travels well
And What We Don't
- Device tray doesn't add value
- Tricky to use with Windows
- Keys feel okay