Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810 & multi-booting

I realised, with my recent desktop build, there was another thing I needed that I had not really thought about and that was a keyboard.

Being mainly a laptop user for the last 5 years or so, the choice of keyboard was mainly driven by the laptop itself. I do have a few cheap usb/ps2 keyboards lying around for the occasional server & miscellaneous use but nothing I would like to use for long periods at a time.

Initially, my search led me to the Apple wireless keyboard. Its compact size, wireless and good typing experience ticked all the right boxes. Also, it would be awesome to use with my hackintosh. However, my desktop only part-times as a hackintosh as I multi-boot and I would also feel obliged to purchase an Apple mouse to compliment it.

So, off I went again in search which eventually led me to Logitech's bluetooth illuminated K810 keyboard. First thoughts was that it looked like the Windows' counterpart to Apple's wireless keyboard?! It costs more than Apple's keyboard but it also has a few extra nifty features including the ability to simultaneously pair with 3 devices and a proximity sensitive backlight. I think this review's summary puts it best:

"I can't say I've ever typed on one that made me want to just keep typing. That's not to say it doesn't have downsides, but there's no such thing as a "perfect" product, anyway. Still, all the makings of a great keyboard are here: a smooth typing experience, adjustable backlighting, ultra-portability, the ability to easily switch between multiple OSes/devices, and solid battery life."

http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/11/27/logitech-bluetooth-illuminated-keyboard-k810-review-yes-you-want-one/

Also, it would be a great combo with my existing mouse, my trusty Logitech VX nano which has served me very well over the years. I guess it was a no brainer after that! So, how well does it fare? I would say I would agree with most of the reviews of it out there, it's a great little keyboard that definitely looks the part. However, there were a few bumps along the way...

Since I multi-boot Windows, Mac OS and ubuntu, and this keyboard utilises bluetooth for it's wireless connection, it needs to be paired with each OS separately  I could've used the keyboard's ability to simultaneously pair to 3 "devices", one for each OS but this would be annoying to switch each time for what essentially is one physical computer! Googling found these helpful posts:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3113227?start=0&tstart=0

http://superuser.com/questions/229930/finding-bluetooth-link-key-in-windows-7-to-double-pair-a-device-on-dualboot-com

Essentially, when you enter a pin code and pair a bluetooth device to your computer, it generates a unique link key which it remembers so that next time it will automatically connect and not ask you to authenticate again. The trick is that this link key can be copied and modified. This means you can fool the keyboard into thinking it has already paired allowing you to reuse an existing connection with more than one OS on the same machine. Suffice to say, this worked a treat and I still had the option of pairing an additional two devices with the keyboard.

The only other problem was that bluetooth keyboards depended on the bluetooth adapter to support the "hid proxy" feature to allow it to be used while booting the PC e.g. in the BIOS and more importantly, selecting the OS to boot! I had already acquired a bluetooth dongle that supported this feature and natively recognised by the Mac OS. However, what I didn't foresee, was that it simply refused to work with this keyboard in Windows. 

Luckily, I had a backup bluetooth dongle prepared and this one worked across the board at the cost of not having the "hid proxy" feature. As a workaround, I dug up a USB numeric pad from storage and this, at least, allows me to select a different OS on boot! Also, I guess it's good to have anyway as the the keyboard doesn't have a number pad on the side of it.

In the end, I am still very happy with this keyboard despite the problems but next time, I might just stick with RF based wireless keyboards! :)
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