Working From Home

With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic underway, many businesses are allowing employees to work from home (WFH). The company I work for is no different. So, this week, I am starting a new work from home schedule.

On the plus side, I get to wear the typical computer nerd uniform: jeans, t-shirt, and a sweatshirt of some kind since it is still cold here in the northeast United States. Since I am working from home, I am also able to use my 25-inch 5k iMac (2015) by adding in a little VMware Fusion and a company Windows 10 virtual PC [1].

With the kids starting online learning with their schools, the kitchen and dining room tables are already occupied. To help keep work and personal computing needs logically separate on my iMac, I am using the Mission Control spaces and multiple desktops feature. It is super easy to switch from my “personal” space to my “work” space with a quick Control + Left or Right Arrow. (Actually, I have three spaces: personal, Music and Home space, and then work.) A set of paired HomePods keep whatever I’m listening to sounding great.

But the one thing that isn’t “great” about my setup is the Magic Mouse 2. Yes, it looks and works great – for short bursts of work. But I found that when I was doing a trial WFH day last week, using the Magic Mouse 2 for about 10 hours was starting to get on my last good nerve. In a Windows world, the right-click action is used heavily. When I’m trying to quickly mouse around, there were too many times when the Magic Mouse 2 was incorrectly interpreting my right-click as a left-click action.

For this week, and for the duration of my WFH stint, I have switched to the Logitech M510 mouse. I have used many Microsoft and Logitech wireless mice over the years at work. The M510 is currently my favorite. (I have a black and a blue one. The black one came home with me.) With its dedicated left and right buttons, I don’t have to worry about the touch sensor misinterpreting my right-clicks as left-clicks. I also prefer the high back feel of the M510 when using it for long periods of time over the Magic Mouse 2.

The Logitech Options control panel used to customize the M510 button layout.

The M510 does have five points of customization when the Logitech Options driver software. You will also need to install the LogitechUnifying Technology USB-A receiver before the mouse will work. Both can be installed from a single download from the Logitech website. I like to keep my mouse setup pretty simple, so I turn off left/right scrolling, the side buttons, and the scroll wheel center-click features. Your mileage will vary based on your personal preferences.

Be well and stay safe.

[1] I should note that I do have my work-issued Dell Latitude 7480 laptop home with me too. I don’t skimp when buying Dell computers for employees. I do like the business class Latitude notebooks a lot, but, you know, they still aren’t Macs.

Logitech Create Backlit Keyboard 12.9-inch Mini Review

create-keyboard-hero-blue-1000_840pxI have been using my iPad Pro 12.9-inch for the last year.  When I purchased my iPad Pro, I purchased the Apple Smart Keyboard.  This past November 22, after a year of the Smart Keyboard and having read reviews from bloggers and hearing podcasters talk about the Logitech Create keyboards, I decided to get one.  What follows are my thoughts and impressions about 12.9-inch Create keyboard.

Logitech Create Backlit Keyboard Case Mini Review

I love using my iPhones and iPads without cases, yet I cannot stand having scratches, nicks, or scuffs so I always use a case or some sort.  My iPad Pro, issued to me by my employer, has spent the last year protected by the Apple Smart Keyboard and the Silicone Case.

The Logitech Create 12.9-inch keyboard, in my opinion, is on the opposite end of the keyboard spectrum from the Apple Smart Keyboard.  The Create fore goes Apple’s minimalist obsession and let’s their Smart Connector-based keyboard be true to itself.  To get a sense of the size, the keys on the Create keyboard are about the same size as those on the Apple Magic Keyboard.  The best part about the Create keyboard is that there is actually movement in the keys (key travel).  If you like the keyboard on the MacBook Air, then I think you will like this keyboard a lot.  Since retiring my 17-inch MacBook Pro, the iPad Pro with Create keyboard has become my on-the-go writing tool.

The key caps are a nice size and I can easily touch type on this keyboard just like I can on my wireless Microsoft (at the office) and Apple (at home) keyboards.  The Create keyboard also has an extra row of function keys that are missing from Apple’s Smart Keyboard.  Create also sports backlit keys, another feature that is missing from the Apple stock keyboard. The function keys that I find myself using the most are search, backlight brightness up and down, lock, and home.  In the position of the Fn key on the Magic Keyboard, Logitech placed a keyboard key, which when pressed, brings up the iOS 10 on-screen keyboard.

I have been using the Create keyboard with three main apps on my iPad – Microsoft Word, Outlook, and OneNote.  When I get in a groove, and typing furiously (for me), my personal preference is for the Create keyboard over the Apple Smart Keyboard.  For writing in my lap while on the go, I feel that the Create keyboard is the sturdier of the two.

The Logitech Create keyboard case is available in five colors: classic red with gold keyboard top, purple, blue with silver keyboard top (the version I purchased), black with silver keyboard top, and black.  I have a silver iPad Pro, and I thought that the blue/silver case looked the best partnered up with my iPad.   Red/gold was a close runner up.  If I had a black iPad Pro, I would have only considered the two black versions.  Personal preferences will obviously vary.

For as much as I like the Logitech Create keyboard for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, there are a few downsides to consider.

The Create keyboards is big and heavy.  It’s the price to be paid for being true to itself.  Much more so than the two-piece Apple solution.  It’s something buyers need to consider if they travel around a lot.  For me, the extra bulk is not too much of a problem because I don’t travel much.  Logitech has included a wrist rest, however, it is shallow, and my palms hang off the edge.  This is not a deal breaker.  The total size of the keyboard and wrist rest is constrained by the size of the iPad Pro.  I am glad that Logitech used the majority of the space for the keys over that of the wrist rest.

There are magnets in the wrist rest that will put the iPad to sleep just like any other Smart Cover.  The magnets aren’t powerful enough to keep the iPad closed.  I attribute this to the sheer bulk of the Create case.  If I pick up my iPad Pro by the top half of the Create case, it will open.  While walking around the office with my iPad, there is some minimal movement between the iPad and Create.  Because of this, I worry about the plastic key caps rubbing up against the glass screen and marking it up over time.  As such, I felt it was necessary to buy a glass screen protector for the iPad Pro.  I have no evidence that the screen would become damaged.  It was an emotional response to my desire to keep my hardware looking like it just came out of the box.  Again, results will vary.

The one gripe that I do have, that was “fixed” with the Create keyboard for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, was the inclusion of a loop for storing an Apple Pencil.  There is a lot of space where the Pencil loop could have gone in the 12.9-inch model. I personally feel that early adopter feedback informed Logitech’s decision to include the loop on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro Create keyboard case.  I am looking forward to seeing the loop on a future 12.9-inch Create keyboard.

Conclusion

The Logitech Create keyboard for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the keyboard for people who prefer a more traditional keyboard experience.  I find it delightful to type on and the experience is more like the other keyboards in my life.  I also appreciate that Logitech let this be the keyboard that it wants to be – size and weight be damned – and I appreciate it.

The Logitech Create Backlit Keyboard Case for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro can be purchased for $149.95 from both the Logitech and Apple online stores or in retail stores that sell iPad Pros.