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The Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard: A design lesson mislearned. - Elf M. Sternberg
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The Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard: A design lesson mislearned.
One of the things that I've been paying a lot of attention to recently is the design of everything things that I use. One thing that I've been using a lot, recently, is the Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard for the Apple iPad. And one thing that I've noticed is that there is one piece of very poor design on an otherwise excellent product: that poor design is the power indicator.

The keyboard has exactly one LED on it to tell you when it's in use. This tiny little green light, barely the size of a period on this page, highlights when you turn the device on and then fades away when it pairs with the iPad. When I separate the keyboard from the tablet the light doesn't come back on, but the keyboard keeps draining its battery. This is a design failure.

I was watching a documentary about Johnny Ive, the famous designer who works at Apple, and he was talking about the light on the side of their laptops that glows when the machine is in sleep mode, but fades out when you open the laptop. "That light," he said, "is only there when it's indicating something to the user." It indicates whether or not the laptop is ready to use, and nothing else. If you're using the laptop, there's no question of its readiness, so the light fades away.

The Logitech people saw only that the light faded away when you started using the laptop, and made the wrong assumption: The light fades out to indicate you're using the product..

The problem with this then becomes obvious: the keyboard has no alternative indicator. The power switch is cleverly hidden low on the right side of the keyboard. There is no way, looking at the keyboard itself in its normal orientation, to know if you're draining the battery. The indicator is failing in its duty: to indicate to the user information the user really needs.

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