Yesterday it was the gaming division pushing out the release of its brand new wireless gaming keyboard, and today, the consumer side of Logitech has its own new pretty item to wave in front of us. The CRAFT keyboard is a unique option that combines wireless connectivity with up to three devices, smart backlight illumination, and a new input dial that helps creative and productivity users get more out of their applications.
Let’s start with that knob in the top right – the crown as Logitech calls it. This crown is an input dial that adapts and changes functions as you switch between applications. On a global scale it can be used to control volume, move between application windows, and change desktops. You can access that functionality by physically pushing down on the dial and rotating it to the left or right.
More interestingly, the crown adjusts its function based on the application you are in. In Excel, for example, you can toggle font sizes, move between cells, select tables and graph formats, and much more, all with the dial and click functionality. You switch between these different functions by tapping on the dial itself, as the entire surface is capacitive. There are functions for PowerPoint and Word as well, offering similar levels of integration.
The Adobe software suite of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Premiere Pro CC 2017 also has pre-built functionality with the Logitech CRAFT keyboard. In Photoshop you can select and adjust image brightness, change the stroke weight in Illustrator or navigate and scrub through the timeline in Premiere Pro. There are many options and capabilities that the Logitech software installer offers out of the box and you have the ability to adjust these capabilities through custom integrations as well.
Explaining in text how this dial works and how it could potential change your workflow is difficult to do. Logitech does provide a set of videos running through some examples of the keyboard in and the dial in use, and they are worth checking out to get a sense of how it functions.
This capability works across both Windows 10 and Mac OS.
The CRAFT keyboard is built with a high quality scissor key switch design that is close in typing feel to some of the best notebook keyboards we have had our hands on. The typing is relatively quiet and the dished keys help you find the proper finger placement for eye-free typing.
Backlighting a battery powered keyboard is always tricky as you balance illumination and battery life. Logitech has created a system that intelligently determines when to light up the keyboard based on your hands approaching the keyboard itself. Logitech won’t share the secret here but it’s likely they are using some kind of proximity sensor similar to what is used on smartphones. We do know the CRAFT integrates an ambient light sensor as well, dimming or turning off backlight when in a well-lit environment.
Above the Insert/Home keys rests three buttons that allow you to easily switch between controller one of three connected systems or devices. The CRAFT supports the Logitech unifying receiver as well as Bluetooth, allowing you to connect to a notebook or even your phone or tablet for advantages when replying to those text messages from mom.
Logitech claims the CRAFT should last an entire week on a single charge, though that will vary based on bright and often the backlights get used. The internal rechargeable battery gets juice via a USB Type-C connection and a Type-C to Type-A cable is included in the box.
The CRAFT isn’t cheap at $199 but the creation and use of the input dial, or crown, is definitely a value add for creatives and productivity users that see the benefit of a two handed input interface. We are still working through a couple of things on our end before doing a review (including a squeaky space bar that Logitech claims was fixed in final production and some last minute software bugs), but I am impressed with Logitech has built. If you frequently spend your time in Microsoft Office or Adobe CC software suites, you should definitely give the CRAFT keyboard a try.