The Corsair K83 Wireless is an experiment, and like most experiments, it is not entirely successful. The keyboard is part of the burgeoning genre of entertainment keyboards, which effortlessly connects to computers, mobile devices, smart TVs, streaming players, and virtually anything related to Bluetooth connectivity. It’s an exciting idea with some potential for smart TV fans, but no entertainment keyboard has so far proven to be indispensable, and the K83 is no exception. This is our Corsair K83 Wireless Review.
Corsair K83 Wireless Review: Design
The K83 is about two-thirds of the keyboard without keys and one-third of the touchpad. On the left side, there is a keyboard that stops using the navigation keys on a full-size peripheral. On the right side, there is a circular touchpad with a right and a left key underneath. Above the touchpad, there is a backlight button, a button to lock the function keys, and a volume button with a new push button. As always, I can’t say enough beautiful things about Corsair’s volume buttons, with their pleasant textures and simple designs.
On the top right, you’ll find the strangest function of the keyboard: a joystick. The K83 wants to split the difference between a smart TV keyboard and a game controller. On the surface, this is not the worst idea. Connecting the K83 to a smart TV (this works with Samsung brands or something that runs on the Android TV or Fire OS), an Amazon Fire TV or an Nvidia Shield is straightforward, and those devices offer enough games.
If you pick up the keyboard (as Corsair recommends when driving games with this keyboard), there is even a small bump on the top of the keyboard and a more significant trigger at the bottom, marked with L and R, respectively. Between the joystick and trigger buttons, the K83 aims to replicate a controller without forcing you to give up and switch your keyboard. In theory, it streamlines input for devices that may need multiple controllers, but in practice, it’s more trouble than it’s worth – but we’ll come back to that.
The re’s nothing special about the rest of the keyboard. The up and down arrow keys are positively small, and the lack of a special delete button has slowly but surely driven me out of my mind. (The re’s a shift shortcut on the backspace, but every touch typist knows that’s not the same). It’s also worth noting that the K83 has much better keys than I’ve encountered in other media keyboards, such as the Logitech K600.
These keys are just everyday membrane models, sure, but they have more freedom of movement than I expected from such a thin keyboard and are big enough that my fingers rarely slip. On the other hand, the keyboard has no feet, so you can’t lift it, so your wrists are uncomfortably flat as you type.
The K83 works with Corsair’s iCUE software, which allows you to adjust the monochromatic backlight. That’s about it. You can’t reprogram keys, although you can play with gesture control (provided you first turn off Microsoft’s built-in gesture control, which is a bit annoying). You can also adjust the sensitivity of the touchpad and toys using the F-lock key functions, but compared to Corsair’s line of gaming keyboards, the K83’s options are surprisingly blunt.
For a $100 keyboard, I expected a little more customization. The wireless connectivity is also worth discussing, albeit only briefly because everything works pretty well. There are a USB dongle and two Bluetooth connections; the keyboard also works in a wired USB mode. I connected mine to a computer via USB, an Amazon Fire TV via Bluetooth 1, and my mobile phone via Bluetooth 2; I imagine most people will follow a similar approach.
Corsair estimates that the rechargeable battery will last 40 hours, but I couldn’t assess this because the battery life is nowhere to be checked. The device had no problems during 10 hours of testing, so that it will take you at least a few working days.
The most exciting thing about the K83 is that it wants to be some kind of controller. When I attached this keyboard to the Fire TV, I immediately jumped into Sonic the Hedgehog and Shovel Knight, ready to turn on my game without sacrificing the ease of typing. When I couldn’t get Sonic to jump, I realized that the K83 has a few kinks to iron out. Yes, you can use the joystick and trigger buttons to play games – if, and only if, those games recognize your input.
Corsair K83 Wireless Review: Performance
Apart from the questionable properties of the controller, the K83 works as advertised. It is easy to connect to virtually any compatible device and type, even over the entire length of a living room. The smart TV/mobile buttons – including home, search, and switch apps – work fine, just like the media buttons. (I thought it was pretty cool that the re’s a special Launch Media Player button that knows my standard program on any platform).
At the same time, the lack of full-size arrow keys and a delete key certainly slowed down my typing and caused some errors. The touchpad is a bit on the side of the resistor; although you can adjust its sensitivity, it’s still not as good as just a mouse. And that’s what I kept thinking when I used the K83: I wish I had a particular mouse or a unique controller. The hybrid design is impressive, and it’s never really been tried before.
But the joystick and trigger buttons don’t help in games. And the touchpad surrounded by mouse buttons isn’t as good as Logitech’s approach of just giving you a particular column of mouse buttons.
Corsair K83 Wireless Review: Conclusion
The K83 shows that there is a genuine demand for living room keyboards made for smart TVs. But this device also indicates that it is very well possible to overdesign such a keyboard and increase the price accordingly. The joystick of the K83 is a smart idea but doesn’t do much in practice. The keyboard isn’t as comfortable to use as a regular productivity tool, and although it’s versatile, it’s no more than several less expensive Bluetooth keyboards.
Although the K83 isn’t without charm, it eventually fails in what has been a very niche market so far. Unless you live and breathe Corsair, you can probably do without this keyboard. For more options, check our list of Best Wireless Gaming Keyboards