Logitech can make a proper keyboard for the office, but creative workspaces are woefully overlooked, so much that even I didn’t think of it myself as fiddle with my graphic tablet. Apparently, a “ah-ha!” moment arose with the CRAFT Wireless Keyboard was conceived as a tool for all manner of digital artists. It goes reasonably beyond for applications that may actually benefit from integrated control, but that potential comes doesn’t exactly come cheap.
Professionals in the field usually optimize their environment to their tastes and the CRAFT will fit despite being as a full-size premium keyboard. The body is devoid of sharp angles and sports an overly contemporary matted look, there isn’t an aggressive edge or flamboyant detail to be found whatsoever. The illuminated keycaps themselves are engineered to exhibit minimal wobble and maximum comfort with circular indents to help center your fingers, basically in an effort improve typing accuracy. This is meant to look low-profile but exhibits plenty of weight on the top end and rubber feet that stick to the table like glue.
Obviously, it isn’t created for hardcore gamers or career authors who are accustomed to mechanical keyboard but that’s not the prerogative of the CRAFT anyway — the defining characteristic is actually the thick aluminum strip headpiece—with the creative input dial mounted on the upper-left corner (Logitech affectionately calls their invention the ‘Crown’).
Connectivity is surprisingly equipped with USB Type C, along with an included USB unifying receiver or Bluetooth (4.0/Low Energy) for wireless flexibility. Of course ditching the cords means you’ll eventually have to recharge but swapping batteries isn’t necessary, just plug in the CRAFT and continue where you left off. Getting a full charge only took about 5 hours while still using the keyboard.Because that crown dial is the notable feature of this keyboard we should go over those essentials first. Compatibility is available for both Windows 10 and MacOS, and basic functions are eminently customizable through rotation, clicks, and touch-sensitive controls. Default options usually serves as an alternative means for activating tools and editing properties. All of these things are largely depending on the app — for instance in Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC, turning the dial is used for quick brush modifications or adjust the scale and/or opacity of selected objects, while pinch/zoom is done moving your finger over the dial itself. These options can be chosen by tapping the dial and an on-screen row of tiles will pop-up.
The same thing applies to Microsoft Office where the CRAFT offers mild benefits. It’s mostly straightforward in Word 2016 such as changing fonts on the fly or inserting page layouts and photos into the body. Other programs such as PowerPoint and Excel operate in the same manner for theme management and navigating between pie charts, and even Firefox/Chrome support to a much lesser degree. The crown can also change its operation to ‘ratchet mode’ for multimedia control, enabling coarser feedback like a trackpad button.
The crown dial alone feels intuitive and tactile nature of touch response, offering something that would considered easier and more accurate versus dragging a mouse. PC users will appreciate it more and is almost as good as the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, which for reference can do the same tasks and more in programs like Photoshop, including but not limited to creating new layers and picking colors. But there is a catch and it requires installation of the ‘Logitech Options’ software where all of the aforementioned functions and customization come from. This is typical of most Logitech products we’ve reviewed before, so there’s not a whole lot of flexibility around opting out of it.Unequivocally, the crown is a centerpiece for workflow but the CRAFT keyboard as a whole does demand some compromise for the advanced typist. I spoke directly with the folks at Logitech and was told that a lot of input from creatives was taken and explored, however, the designers perspective means compromise to make a cohesive product.
True, the keycaps might be sculpted and we do like it when it automatically illuminates when it detects hands are in proximity — but the physical comfort is behind in terms of duration and comes off a little softer than expected. This is the reason mechanical keyboards are favored for their tangible feedback, and the CRAFT will be disappointing those who care about mashing keys without strain. This criticism was by reaffirmed by another editor who can reach a 180 word/minute average who said “it feels like this keyboard won’t hold up over time”. A very fair assessment for price/performance among traditional keyboards.
The CRAFT Wireless Keyboard is unique in theory, an area that is overlooked if you’re a graphic designer, video editor, or photographer. The chic luxuries and the implementation of the crown are expected for the asking price of $199 isn’t exactly cheap, but trades expected function and currently leaves out native support for more applications (Adobe Lightroom, Autodesk) right now. But the CRAFT is a commendable innovation for creative workflow users — aside from the fact that there’s nothing comparable to it.