Logitech has long been one of the leading manufacturers of office and gaming keyboards. Walk into any office, chances are you’ll see some Logitech products around.
The Craft, available for $199.99, is their latest wireless office keyboard, but it’s a little different. This isn’t just some run-of-the-mill wireless keyboard you'd find in a sea of cubicles. What makes the Craft special is the Crown: a dial on the upper left hand part of the board that acts as a secondary input device, offering unparalleled levels of control in a wide variety of applications, including Photoshop, Excel, and Chrome.
WIll the Craft revolutionize your office productivity, or is it a gimmick?
With the Craft, Logitech has gone for a very simplistic design. The board itself is just one plate, with a separate bar where the Crown is attached. The rounded edges and the big Logitech logo front in center make the Craft look a little bit like a toy, but any ill feelings I had toward the design were smoothed over when I realized just how thin the Craft was. At 960 g, it’s a pretty light keyboard, too, with almost all of the weight distributed in the Crown bar (for lack of a better term).
First, the Crown just feels good to use – the wheel is weighted, giving you precise control over each turn, and pressing it offers a nice amount of tactical feedback. Second, the Crown is legitimately useful.
I was a bit disappointed to find that there are no raised feet on this keyboard. The very low height of the Craft made it a tad uncomfortable to type on, but after a day’s use, I adjusted. Still, I didn’t like holding my wrist at such a low angle. One big plus is that the board itself is surprisingly sturdy – I couldn’t get it to move around on my desk, even when I was intentionally pushing it around. You have to really push to get it to even slightly slide. Seriously, it feels practically glued on to my desktop. No matter what, the Craft will stay put, and that’s important when you’re working a big project.
The Craft also has one of the best non-RGB backlights I’ve ever seen on a keyboard. The glow is just the right level of brightness where it illuminates the keys to make it easy to see, but not so bright or flashy where it’s distracting to your co-workers. There’s also a cool proximity sensor that’ll turn the backlight off when your hands are away from the keyboard, and on again when you put your hands close to it again. The only negative is that while you can turn the backlighting off via the Logitech Options software, you can’t turn off the proximity lighting feature. At this price point, one expects that level of customization, and it’s a shame Logitech doesn’t deliver.
Other than that small oversight, this backlighting seriously impresses.
Features and Performance
The Craft is a wireless keyboard that connects via a Logitech’s “Unifying” USB or via low energy Bluetooth. The signal quality and range (Logitech claims up to 10 meters in the right conditions) are excellent, but the battery life is a bit weak. Though it didn’t run out when testing it for this review, Logitech claims it’ll last for up to a week, which is not a lot for a lower power device like a keyboard. However, the Craft can be charged with an included USB C connector, so don’t worry about going out and buying tons of double A batteries. The keyboard also continues to work while its charging, which is a major plus.
There’s no way to get around it – typing on the Craft is underwhelming. The Craft is a membrane keyboard, so typing has that soft, mushy feel that anyone used to typing on a mechanical keyboard despises. The keycaps are thin enough that it can be hard to differentiate between keys when you’re touch typing, which isn’t good for writers, receptionists, or other power typists. That’s not to say typing on the Craft is bad – it’s actually pretty decent for a wireless membrane keyboard. But for two hundred dollars, you can get an incredibly high-end mechanical keyboard, with tons of fancy RGB lighting, USB passthrough ports, and thick, durable PBT keycaps. The Craft essentially has the same type-feel as a 30 dollar keyboard, so if you’re mostly looking to type, you’d be better off getting a mechanical keyboard.
But typing isn’t the Craft’s forte - that would be the Crown. At first glance, it looks like a volume wheel, but it’s far more powerful than that. There are three different ways of interacting with the Crown: you can turn it, press it, and press and turn simultaneously. All three of these interactions can be customized to a different action, and you can map different movements on a per-application basis. Logitech even has profiles for different high-profile apps, like Chrome, Photoshop, Spotify, and Word. If it sounds confusing, don’t worry – it’s all very simple when you’re actually using it. Logitech’s Options software makes everything very clear and easy to use, and I had no trouble setting it all up.
Time for the million dollar question: how is it using the Crown?
I was a bit skeptical at first, but the more I used it, the more I liked it. First, the Crown just feels good to use – the wheel is weighted, giving you precise control over each turn, and pressing it offers a nice amount of tactical feedback. Second, the Crown is legitimately useful. While I didn’t really get much out of the Crown in Chrome or Spotify, Photoshop was where the Crown really proved its worth. I’ll admit I’m no Photoshop guru, but I’ve often struggled with how annoying it is to change the size of the brush or do those other tasks where you have to carefully move your mouse across a tiny slider. The Crown really did simplify the whole process, and I’m sure someone who spends most of their day editing images will find the Crown to be a huge time saver and stress reliever. I imagine video editors who use Adobe Premiere Pro will feel similarly.
The only negative is that Logitech doesn’t have more profiles for different software, but hopefully Logitech will release more profiles in the future.
Craft and Crown
It’s tough to rate the Craft, because it’s a keyboard that clearly wasn’t meant for me, a writer and gamer. But image and video editors will almost certainly see a huge increase in their productivity with their workflow drastically simplified. If you’re just going to use the Crown as a glorified volume knob, the Craft isn’t worth your time and money. But if you practically live in Photoshop, the Crown might be just the thing you never knew you always wanted.