For testing I couldn’t really do my normal testing which is just replacing my main keyboard on my PC, the K83 does work perfectly on a PC but using it exclusively on a desk wouldn’t really do it much justice. So I moved it into the living room where we have a few devices that it pairs with. Our VR PC could work with Bluetooth or the wireless dongle but I went with the dongle. That left the two different Bluetooth channels available for other devices. My original plan was to use it with our ShieldTV and PS4 as they see the most use but when I went to pair it with the PS4 it picked it up and then let me know it wasn’t supported. So I ended up going with the ShieldTV and the Xbox One which supported it right away. Bluetooth setup was as simple as using the Function+F8 or F9 keys once to switch to that device then pressing and holding it until the blue light flashed. From there I just had to type the code on the screen into the keyboard.
With everything up and running I just left the keyboard in our living room to see how it might tie in with use. We use the ShieldTV paired with Plex and PS Vue for all of our TV then have the VR PC, PS4, and Xbox One for gaming. Having a keyboard available for the shield is especially helpful when searching for things in both Plex and Vue as well as reinputting overly long passwords but what was interesting is having the keyboard/touchpad option adds a normal mouse to AndroidTV which you don’t get at all when using a normal remote or the Shields game controller. I found that sometimes the mouse was quicker, especially in apps. Speaking of Twitch is used often but saying anything in Twitch chat was basically impossible with a controller, by the time you type anything out the conversation has already moved on. Having the K83 made chatting possible, though to be fair on a lot of channels I doubt I would want to read chat let alone be associated with it lol.
Normal ShieldTV navigation was possible with the joystick or with the direction pad. The same could be said with the Xbox One as well. I only really needed to flip the joystick into its second mode when on the VR PC and for that it was mostly just to get the back button on the K83 switched over to be the mouse click button, the touchpad was more than enough to navigate. I did, however, have to make the cursor larger, at 4k from across the room it was hard to see.
The chicklet shaped keys and flat profile would normally be a complaint for me on a normal keyboard. It works out well on the K83 though because it keeps it smaller, less likely to have the keys broken when sliding it around, and it helps keep the thin form factor that the K83 needs to be held in hand. The scissor switches are about as good as you would expect. The movement is consistent front switch to switch but these aren’t high-end mechanical switches. It feels like you are typing on a laptop because you basically are. The caps do have a slight concave effect to them even though they do look flat and that helps a lot in how they feel as well as helping to keep your clicks centered.
I was really happy with the 60% size, after adding the touchpad area on to the side if the K83 was any wider it would have been cumbersome but has it sits it isn’t bad. Having a direction pad still fit into that was also nice, I ended up using that a lot when navigating in Android over using the joystick simply for a recognizable click over using an analog stick. Like how on a game console you might prefer to use the direction pad over a stick in menus or some games. I was worried that having a lot of things on the function layer might be an issue but it wasn’t too bad. I mostly only used it when switching between the dongle and the two Bluetooth devices. Having the volume control scroll wheel, not on a function layer was nice though I think it might need a click to keep it from being easy to bump. I also liked having the brightness button. The F-Lock, on the other hand, could have been function layer.
The other big feature that you wouldn’t think would stand out as much as it did was the backlighting. I’m used to having backlighting on all of my keyboards anymore and it is always a big sticking point when buying a new laptop. The same reason I need it on my laptop is why having it on the K83 was so important. When I watch TV, sometimes it isn’t in a bright office and there is a good chance it is at night, especially during the shorter winter days of the year. Being able to see all of the legends was nice, especially for the function layer stuff which was also lit up well. The backlighting doesn’t stay on for very long so it doesn’t use too much battery life or become a distraction when you sit the K83 down. But without it, I don’t think I could have used it, which makes me glad I didn’t pick up a few of the keyboards I was considering for this same use. Having the touchpad ring lit up also helped to keep me from accidentally touching that when I didn’t want too.
Now as for the wireless performance, Bluetooth was about what you would expect. I was able to use the K83 with the ShieldTV from two rooms over. The wireless dongle, on the other hand, worked well in the room but I didn’t get the same range. I had more trouble with it in my office where even plugging it in on the back of the PC caused issues. What I ran into mostly were hiccups with the touchpad and the joystick. Oddly enough on the dongle, the joystick would skip sections when going left but not right. Battery life, on the other hand, they don’t even bother listing time when you run backlight brightness turned up. They say with it turned down you get up to 18 hours or 40 hours with it off altogether. Because of the way the backlighting turns off quickly when you aren’t using it, I wasn’t able to get a solid number on total hours but I didn’t have to charge it until about a week in on my testing which was using it for a few hours a day.