Logitech k400r Keyboard Review

K700r

Lets get this out of the way up front, wireless keyboards with built-in pointing devices are almost universally awful. I say “almost’ but what I mean is, I’ve never found a combo wireless keyboard/trackpad that is any good but they must exist somewhere, right? Maybe the Logitech k400r will be one of those good few combo devices. There’s no need to read any further. Abandon your hope, this is not that unicorn device.

You might see the k400 and k400r mixed-up online, as far as I can tell the only difference between the two is that the k400r has a different Windows key and you might end up with either when you order one online or buy it in a store.

These combo keyboard and trackpad devices can fail in one way with either the pointing device or keyboard being awful or they can fail in both ways at the same time and have both an awful keyboard and an awful pointing device that combine to become some sort of awfulness Voltron.

How do the keyboard portions fail? Weird layouts that fight your muscle-memory for where to go to type a key combination or even a single key. On this Logitech k400r keyboard the arrow keys are smashed together with the / and right-shift keys so close that you’ll find even the simplest of two-handed typing maneuvers painful. This too-close layout is repeated throughout the keyboard. Of course the keys are also mushy as heck. How far and with how much force do you have to depress any of the keys on the k400r before they will trigger? I can tell you with all certainty that I have no idea and end up just pressing the keys as hard as I possibly can to type out a sentence.

This is bad. Keys should have some responsiveness either through a noise in the mechanism or a mechanical feeling that assures you that a switch has been triggered to let you know when your finger and the key have travelled far enough down to trigger the appropriate reaction from your computer. A slightly larger layout would enable a more natural typing process and fewer missed keystrokes where you hit the wrong key accidentally. Try entering in a slightly complex password with this keyboard, I double-dog-dare you that you’ll get it wrong at least twice.

Next we move on from the awful keyboard to the pointing device. What’s this, it’s a trackpad like on my Macbook Pro. This could be promising!

How do bad trackpads portions of these devices fail? By default this k400r trackpad enables tap-to-click, the bane of many trackpad users. As far as I can tell, the software (only available on Windows) doesn’t offer any option to disable tap-to-click. The only way I’ve found to disable it on any operating system is a secret hardware key combination of striking the blue function key and the left-trackpad pointing-device button at the same time. Of course this is only a temporary solution and it will need to be repeated every time the keyboard is switched off and back on again or when the wireless receiver is paired with a device again.

This is the sentence where I tell you that of course the k400r uses a proprietary Logitech wireless RF receiver that works only with other Logitech devices instead of the bluetooth standard that has proved itself perfectly fine for gaming devices like the Playstation 3 and 4 with great power saving capabilities and excellent responsiveness. The receiver works fine and doesn’t stick very far out of a USB port on your laptop or desktop but it would be so much better if it used bluetooth which is a standard beyond one company.

The trackpad’s gestures are just as terrible as the tap-to-click and scrolling with two-fingers as has become standard to anyone acquainted with the excellent trackpads on Apple equipment will suffer mercilessly as lord Logitech laughs at their pitiful attempts at doing what they want with this monster. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t do at all what you were expecting. Instead of a scroll you get a jumping page that lands somewhere you didn’t expect.

The tracking speed of the trackpad is just as abysmal and undesirably jumpy.

Your mouse cursor is here, now it’s over there, didn’t expect that did you?” The Lord of Logitech chuckles to himself as he observes you trying to urge the cursor along.

The best thing that I can say about the Logitech k400r wireless keyboard/trackpad combo is that is possible to get used to it for minutes at a time before wanting to chuck it out of the nearest window, and you could use it for many minutes because the battery life is excellent. Recently I’ve started trying to use it with my laptop because that’s raised up a bit off my desk and it isn’t very ergonomic to type on a raised laptop and mouse from a seated position.

Instead, I find myself hooking the receiver up to my laptop only to reach over the k400r and type on my laptop’s keyboard and use my laptop’s trackpad when the k400r inevitably starts proving how awful it is to type on and to use as a pointing device.

You might argue that the k400r is supposed to be used with a computer hooked up to the TV, so it must be good at that. You would be wrong. Entering a password, trying to scroll, playing a game, these tasks are essential for using a computer and it just can’t be trusted at those. Yes the wireless range of the device does seem long. I can wander quite far away and it continues to function, but that isn’t enough, these things have to handle the essentials and be good at them for that range to be useful.

The next best thing about the k400r is that Amazon has it for only $20, which is an appropriately low price to pay to demonstrate how the enjoyment of a cheap product will be eroded by the long-term punishment of using such a device.

What do we say to the lord of Logitech when he presents us with the k400r?

Not today.

1 out of 5 Commodore 64 SID chips

Her Story

Her Story's computer interface

The rare games that don’t follow traditional formulas we’ve come to expect are extremely interesting to me. It’s very difficult to make something that still fits into a video game while getting rid of the traditional systems.

Go here

Do this

Shoot them!

Get some points and a sticker!

Wow you did a good job, you’re so good at games!

I still love RPGs and FPS games, but those mechanics just feel insulting after a while. Can’t we do a little bit more than get a prescribed shot of dopamine every five-to-ten minutes?

Sam Barlow of the excellent Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is here to throw most of that out of the window and take us to a more interactive-fiction style of play without so much reading. Though there are subtitles in his adventure called Her Story, so far the game feels more about listening skills than reading.

Her Story is about a fictional missing persons investigation in Britain from 1994. You’re to review the interview clips on a computer interface that to me is reminiscent of Windows 3.1 which is so realistic as to include a fictionally warezed Othello game, scanlines, and glare. The latter two can be toggled off if you get annoyed but I feel so much more in the game’s world when they’re on.

The interview clips are of a suspect, the missing husband’s wife, and the acting is (again, so far as I’ve seen having not yet completed the game) fantastic.

Once you’ve reviewed the first set of interview clips available to you, your only mechanism for getting more is to type in a search query into the database pictured above. It is a tiny amount of dopamine joy when you get some new nugget of information, but each clip gives me so many new keywords to try and there’s no failure or score unless you count the Steam achievements so I can sit there for a while writing down each keyword that I think of while watching the video clips and making up my mind only to find out every few times I get a keyword jackpot that there is some important fact I’ve been overlooked about the situation.

Typically I’d hold off on sharing my impressions of a game until I had completed it and turned my thoughts into a full review. This a rare case where I couldn’t wait to tell you to play Her Story, because you should.

Her Story is on Mac, Windows, iPhone and iPad. It’s a steal at $6 but it’s on sale for a little while longer at $5.

App Camp For Girls 3.0

Jean MacDonald:

App Camp For Girls is on a mission: we encourage girls to pursue app development as a career by teaching them how to make iPhone apps in a fun, creative summer camp program under the mentorship of women developers. We are shifting the gender balance in our industry. App Camp 3.0 is the next stage in bringing the program to more girls in more locations!

You should support App Camp for Girls in their latest crowdfunding campaign.

Thanks to John Gruber for the heads-up.

Apple’s App Store Delisting Civil War Games

Tasos Lazarides:

If you’ve been watching the news recently, you’ll know of the huge debate in the U.S over the role of the Confederate flag in contemporary America. Many see it as a reminder of the many pre-Civil War injustices while others see it simply as a way to honor the soldiers who died for the Confederacy. Many large US companies, like Walmart and Amazon, have already banned the sale of any Confederate flag merchandise as a reaction to the recent events. Now, it appears that Apple has decided to join them by pulling many Civil War wargames from the App Store

All of the Wolfenstein games and their sequels had to be altered in order to be released in Germany due to laws in that country. It takes some of the fun out of virtually kicking Nazi ass in those games, but to be fair it does give game developers a chance to be more creative in the depiction of them.

It’s not difficult to see how an overreaction like this takes place after recent events and that overreaction could be corrected by removing any games that are truly hateful and offensive but Tasos’ article pulls an official quote from Apple that these American Civil War games won’t be allowed back in the App Store without removing or replacing the flags entirely. It just doesn’t make sense to pull games that contain those flags unless the games are white supremacist bullshit, which these American Civil War games aren’t.

Stores choosing to not sell literal confederate flags is reasonable. They can choose to sell or not sell anything they want. I’ll still be disappointed the next time I want to kick some confederate ass on my iPad during a long plane ride and these games either aren’t there or have been altered.

Xbox One Backwards Compatibility

The four most interesting announcements at the Xbox E3 press conference were the Hololens demo with Minecraft, Microsoft’s new Early Access-esque program for the Xbox One called Game Preview, and Xbox 360 backwards compatibility. The fourth most interesting announcement was a lack of any Call of Duty exclusivity. That torch was passed to the Playstation this year, on a Treyarch-running-Call-of-Duty year, it’s clear that Activision knows who can butter their bread with money.

Backwards compatibility came across as an insurmountable goal that didn’t make sense anymore. Who buys a new generation of consoles to play old games? As a marketing goal it didn’t make enough sense to support the engineering effort when interest in games that are from the Xbox 360 isn’t as high as newer games and with no new 360 releases Microsoft wouldn’t generally see a dime from licensing costs. The only direct financial upside for Microsft could be from a very temporary boost in console sales and in purchases of Xbox 360 games online for download through their store.

One more knock against backwards compatibility was the high technical effort. The Xbox 360 was a powerful enough machine with a different enough processor (PowerPC on the 360, x86_64 on the One) that it would be too demanding. Even Sony didn’t attempt it as their switch in console architecture was similar and they had acquired Gaikai and OnLive’s patents so they could offload the task to server-rooms full of Playstation 3’s streaming their video signal to the Playstation 4 at a high price ($180/year for access to 350 PS3 games.)

Almost two years after the launch of the Xbox One, against all of the technical and business hurdles, Microsoft announced backwards compatibility available immediately in an invite-only beta program with a short list of games and more to be added towards the end of 2015 when the feature launches properly for everyone with an Xbox One.

How does it work, and is it any good in this early stage? Eurogamer’s John Linneman has answers.

 

Unlike the spotty backwards compatibility available on Xbox 360, which required a custom wrapper for each individual game, Microsoft has taken a more extensive approach through the use of a virtual machine that runs on the Xbox One as a game in and of itself. This virtual environment includes the Xbox 360 OS features, though they remain unavailable to the user, enabling the software to behave as if it is running on original hardware. The Xbox One then views this “Xbox 360″ app as its own game allowing features such as screenshots and video sharing. The emulator supports both digital downloads and original DVDs, though discs simply act as a key, the core data downloading over the internet via Xbox Live.

Even considering its current flaws, the state of the virtual machine’s capabilities is remarkable: those precious few moments when performance actually exceeds the Xbox 360 gives us just a bit of hope that in the long run, we may actually end up with an improved experience in some games.

If I were going to purchase a console today, the backwards compatibility available on the Xbox One might be a deciding factor if it weren’t for one more thing. There was a lot of turnover towards the end of the last console generation with publishers and developers going out of business and spawning many smaller indie developers. With Microsoft putting the burden on developers to approve their games for backwards compatibility, how many are still around to do that and if they are wouldn’t they rather do a re-release to get more money instead of giving it to used-game retailers who will sell old games for pennies? We’ll find out later this year. Even Microsoft announced a Gears of War 1 remake at the same press conference.

Shenmue III Costs More than 2 Million to Make

Patrick Klepek on Shenmue III‘s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign:

There’s something curious about Shenmue III on Kickstarter: it’s only asking for $2 million. It took $47 million to build the original game. What’s the deal? As it turns out, Sony’s partnering with its development.

It’s ridiculous that this partnership to fund Shenmue III isn’t mentioned on the Kickstarter page. Of course the game doesn’t cost $2 million to make, that goal is just as much bullshit as the $500,000 goal from Bloodstained. The Bloodstained crowdfunding campaign was good enough mentioned the external investment in their video.

Playstation 4 gets DLNA Media Player

Scott McCarthy:

Hello PlayStation Nation! Every time we announce new features for PS4 here on PlayStation.Blog, I love going into the comments to answer your questions and see feedback on which features people really like and which ones people still want to see. One of those questions I have been able to count on has been, “Where is our PS4 media player?”

If you were watching our E3 press conference pre-show, you probably heard the good news – Media Player for the PS4 will be available to download from PlayStation Store this evening. A Media Player icon will appear in the PS4 content area, simply select the icon and you will be taken to the PS Store where you can begin the download.

A DLNA player for the Playstation 4, finally.

PC Gaming Show 2015 News

20:47

That’s it.

20:32

Wrapping up. No thanks given to AMD. I don’t really follow Day9 but I have a ton of respect for him now for the way he handled the sponsorship. You could have mopped the branding puke off the floor during the AMD segments.

20:30

Asked how they can do this with such a small team at Hello Games. It’s perfectly doable by a small team because it’s generated by the computer.

20:29

nomanssky2

20:29

Comparisons to the original Elite.

20:28

It sounds like the game design of a child, basically. I don’t know how to take that, it’s true.

20:27

Day9 asks how they’re playtesting No Man’s Sky, the answer is actually one you might have read before. Hello Games has AI bots that report back on the universe with screenshots.

20:26

No Man’s Sky is coming to Windows and Playstation 4 at the same time.

20:26

nomanssky

20:25

No Man’s Sky! Excellent.

20:24

The three prologue missions will be available to everyone, but if you pre-order Legacy of the Void (the full Protoss campaign) you get to access the three mission prologue early.

20:23

Starcraft 2:Whisper’s of Oblivion trailer. It’s the Protoss campaign. A three mission series about the Xel’naga prophecy.whispers

20:20

Day9’s asked about how they decide which characters come to HOTS, Dustin’s said that it’s different for every character but some just have to be brought in and others are perfect fits for the gameplay. How can we have a character that never dies? King Leoric is perfect for that.

20:18

dustin browder

20:17

King Leoric is also joining HOTS, he can harass people after he dies in the game. Anything he does while dead to harass other players lowers his respawn timer.

20:15

The treasure goblin joins HOTS on June 30th.

20:14

An expansion for Heroes of the Storm already? Eternal Conflict has Diablo 3 characters and a hellish design. We’ve heard about this before, but it looks great.hots

20:12

Chris Sigaty and Dustin Browder are here from Blizzard. Talking about their MOBA Heroes of the Storm.

20:11

Bullet-hell crossed with a rogue-like. Over two-hundred hand-designed weapons in Enter the Gungeon. No sound to the demo for some reason.

20:08

gungeon

20:08

Devolver folks are here with a live demo of Enter the Gungeon.

20:06

A discussion of skill and how Bluestreak will, like every other competitive FPS, be easy to learn and difficult to master.

20:05

Day9 and Cliff are talking over the teaser trailer for Project Bluestreak. Nothing of any significance yet.cliff

20:02

I like your butt divot.

-Cliff Bleszinski

20:02

Cliff Bleszinski is on stage.

20:02

A trailer for Bohemia’s Take On Mars space simulator. Spacey.

20:01

I haven’t played DayZ in months due to those bugs in their alpha, it’s exciting to hear they will become feature complete later this year. Maybe they’ll actually ship a non-Early Access release in 2016?

20:00

Steam Workshop support for DayZ in the beta as well.

19:59

They’re going into beta later this year. They’ll add that single player mode, tools to host your own server.

19:58

dayz2

19:58

If you can’t stand people you can play by yourself.

19:58

They’re going to add single-player to DayZ.

19:57

They’re adding three new vehicles to DayZ. My question is: do zombies still walk through walls?

19:57

It’s a learning experience to try to get a build out…

19:56

dayz

19:55

Bohemia’s Brian Hicks is here to talk about DayZ.

19:55

Soma ships September 22nd, 2015, and the trailer they just showed was almost 99% black.

19:54

Speaking of science-fiction, Frictional’s Ian Thomas is here to tell us about Soma. A horror game in the deep sea.

19:53

Tacoma‘s waystation has a crew of six and is a bit smaller than you might expect, but is so very different from Gone Home.

19:51

Steve is talking about how other walking simulators are limited to what is basically a 2D plane for exploration, but Tacoma has more variation in level design and gravity so that you can explore in different ways than just walking.

19:50

Steve Gaynor is coming on stage to tell us about Tacoma. The first-person-exploration game from the developers of Gone Home.

19:49

brink2point0

19:48

Dirty Bomb developer, Paul Wedgwood is on stage to give some context to a trailer for Dirty Bomb. It looks like what the developers of Brink would have gone on to do.

19:47

Speaking of smells, the developer behind Beyond Eyes is here to tell us about it. It’s out this summer, and we haven’t gotten enough context on it yet. It appears to be about a little girl who is blind and sees the world through other senses.

19:43

(Sorry about the HTML code nonsense, twitter followers.)

19:42

New graphics tech in this, but they haven’t talked about gameplay beside briefly mention island factions fighting and then wrapping up their interview.

19:41

The water will be more important on this new set of islands and archipelagos.

19:39

Bohemia has a trailer for Arma 3’s Tanoa map that is coming in 2016. It’s a Pacific Island jungle area.

19:37

Bohemia Interactive is on stage now. Glad the AMD advertisement is on temporary hiatus.

19:36

AMD is showing a dual-GPU card. That’s what was in this dumbass box that was on Day9’s desk this whole show. I’m excited for crashing two GPUs at once.

19:33

Okay there’s no way that the card she just showed, the R9 Nano, supports 4k gaming at any level of quality.

19:32

Lisa is talking about the new R9 Fury X. No price, but it must be expensive because it is the “flagship card.”

19:32

AMD’s got their CEO Lisa Su on stage. I’m glad they exist as a competitor to intel and nvidia, but it feels super inappropriate for this to be the AMD show.

19:30

you smell amazing.

-Day9 to Hakan

19:29

It sounds like io interactive may have fixed so much that was wrong in Hitman: Absolution, while this Hitman is very different.

19:27

Day9 and Hakan are speaking chest-to-chest now since only Day9’s mic works.

19:25

His mic is busted. We can’t really hear what he’s saying, which is somehow worse than speaking too quickly.

19:24

Hakan Abrak from io interactive is here now. I hope he speaks slower.

19:24

There’s so much, I can’t emphasize enough how awesome Guild Halls sound or transcribe fast enough.colin

19:21

With the Heart of Thorns expansion Guild Wars 2 players will be able to build guild halls. They actually look pretty interesting and I do not need to go start playing Guild Wars 2 now. It looks quite impressive with way more than you might expect from just a guild hall. In-hall PVP combat, competitive leaderboards, new missions through the guild portal, guild puzzles, guild races, customizable buildings.

19:17

The director of ArenaNet is up next to tell us about improvements to Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.

19:16

It’s called Planet Coaster.frontier1

19:15

Actually, David is not talking about Elite: Dangerous’ reasonable price. He’s announcing a game that is coming from Frontier in 2016. No title or other information yet.

19:14

David Braben is here to tell us about not charging hundreds of dollars for virtual spaceships.

19:13

Feargus’ response was that they actually came very close to funding the game with only the money they got from the crowdfunding.

19:12

Day9 is surprisingly killing it, he asked about the question of setting expectations poorly with too-low-to-fund-the-game goals in crowdfunding.

19:11

Feargus is here along with the CEO of Paradox to tell us about their partnership for the expansion to Pillars of Eternity. It’s more than a little strange for that to happen from a crowdfunded game.

19:09

A trailer for an expansion to Pillars of Eternity, The White March, is playing. Increased level cap, new companions. Unfortunate name.

19:07

Talking about the difference between being faithful to older games and using new technology, they’re going to do some things that just weren’t possible before like keeping every spent shell and dead body in the game world.

19:06

The developers behind Strafe are now on stage with a live demo of their old-school FPS. strafe

19:02

Day9 gives Dean the appropriate level of shit for not finishing DayZ before leaving to start on this.

19:01

Dean Hall’s next game is called Ion, there’s a teaser trailer but not much else. It’s inspired by a game called Space Station 13. It’s too early for more information besides that players will have their own regions.

18:58

Dean Hall is talking about the challenges in running a game in Steam’s Early Access program and how refunds may have helped alleviate that.

18:57

Dean Hall is coming up.

18:56

Day9 asks if Valkyrie is going to be integrated with EVE Online, it isn’t.

18:55

ccp

18:54

This game was built completely from the ground up for VR.

18:52

Ryan Geddes from CCP is on stage to tell us about the VR game from CCP, Eve Valkyrie.

18:51

Wide-open American landscapes are depicted with various trucks for a few moments.

18:50

SCS Software is making American Truck Simulator. A trailer ensues.

18:49

Gears 1 was on Windows before, but was using the defunct Games for Windows Live Xbox Live variant.

18:46

The Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (Gears 1 remaster) is coming to Windows.

18:46

Rod Fergusson is on stage now. Phil Spencer has been reduced to another chair off to the side, apparently.

18:45

Open beta for Gigantic later this year.

18:45

The Fable Legends developer did not explain how the free-to-play bullshit will work. Is it cosmetic changes only, or what? No explanation.

18:44

Fable Legends‘ time is over, it’s time for Gigantic. It sounds like a cross between a MOBA (League of Legends, DOTA) and Evolve. There are two teams of five and giant monsters.

18:42

They’re saying that Fable Legends is a different kind of game, so that is what necessitated it being free-to-play.

18:40

Developers on the free-to-play bullshit Fable Legends have replaced Phil Spencer whose commitment to “PC Gaming” seems to have lasted about two minutes of show time.

18:38

He’s announced that Killer Instinct is coming to the PC.

18:38

Phil Spencer is talking about the benefits to developers from Microsoft with Windows 10. How much easier the free-for-a-year updates make testing games on Windows (bullshit) DX12 (not bullshit.)

18:36

Okay I have a bit more respect for the host now, he is giving Phil Spencer the appropriate level of shit for Microsoft being utterly terrible at dealing with gaming for the last 29 years.

18:35

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer is coming on stage.

18:35

The talk-show style interview is over almost as quickly as it began.

18:34

We’ve got two folks from Creative Assembly here to talk about how deep Total War: Warhammer is.

18:33

A trailer for Total War: Warhammer is playing with Lorde singing in the background. It’s just a bunch of lead-up to two seconds of a beast from Warhammer flying in to smash the historical troops they’ve been showing. Lame.

18:31

The Deus Ex developers are gone, the host talks about what’s up next and somebody in the audience shouts “Half Life 3.” Can the joke of asking for that in every conversation about games ever be stopped?

18:29

The host, Sean “Day[9]” Plott, is asking the developers how they play Deus Ex. Stealthy or guns, guns guns. The developers are explaining how they’re trying to balance the game for both kinds of Deus Ex player.

18:26

We finally have a name for the new engine in Mankind Divided, it’s the Dawn Engine. It wasn’t possible to understand the name given in the Square-Enix press conference.

18:25

Sarif, that is.

18:25

Adam Jensen is no-longer working with Serif, he’s with an anti-terrorism agency.

18:24

Deus Ex developers are on the stage telling us about what’s changed in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

18:23

His next explanation is about how DX12 is helping with core utilization. Understandable that the audience for this show is pretty wide that he couldn’t go into great depth and it is difficult to translate extreme technicalities to someone who isn’t as technical, but still that just felt like wasted time.

18:19

AMD’s Chief Gaming Scientist Spokesperson is explaining that you need a very good graphics card for VR.

18:17

Fortunately the off-stage prerecorded Chris Roberts is over, and we’re on to video card chat with an AMD spokesperson to tell us nothing of interest yet.

18:15

Chris Roberts is talking about how Star Citizen is a grassroots game, because it’s financed from people’s hundreds to thousands of dollars per player instead of a publisher or investor.

18:13

Next up, the CEO of the charge you hundreds of dollars for a virtual spaceship company, Chris Roberts.

18:12

Tripwire is on stage with a Rising Storm 2 trailer.

18:11

Technical difficulties, I’m live with the PC Gaming Show now.