Sunday, December 03, 2006

Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard: Review

Elegant, well-designed, intuitive, fully customizable -- and damn beautiful. This is quite possibly one of the greatest keyboards I've ever used. It's even better than the keyboard that came as a part of Logitech's Cordless MX Duo.

Logitech's G15 Gaming Keyboard is great even for people who don't play videogames. As you can see, it's features backlit blue keys that are very easy to see in low light. Unlike other "backlit" keyboards that are totally useless because they only have a light between the keys, the G15 has illuminated letters so you can easily find the key you're looking for in any lighting. They are not too distracting or too bright (the exposure on the digital picture took in a bit too much light, so it's not that bright in reality).

The top left of the keyboard features three sections of fully customizable buttons. The software is quite malleable, letting you record keystrokes, launch programs or websites, and even record macros. This would be amazing for people who do a lot of repetitive office tasks. The only problem with this section of keys is that it is about a half inch too close to the normal keyboard sections, which means that you can't easily just find the edge of the keyboard when you want to hit "Shift" or "Ctrl." Bummer. Adding these extra buttons also adds to the size of the keyboard, which is quite wide.

On the top center are illuminated multimedia controls. The volume wheel is a bit stiff and not as good as Logitech's predecessors, but the multimedia keys are elegant and work right out of the box on a number of programs. If I launch Winamp, MediaMonkey, iTunes, Windows Media Player, or even my TV tuner, this set of controls works perfectly.

The keyboard has two USB ports, though they are unfortunately not USB 2.0 ports. This is a convenient feature to have, though those of us with sliding keyboard trays won't really make much use of these available ports.

At the top of the keyboard is an illuminated LCD screen that is bright and easy to read (you can adjust the brightness and contrast if it is too bright for you). I have never seen an LCD screen like this and it really makes the keyboard come alive. This LCD screen has a number of downloadable programs, letting you see a whole range of information about your computer. You can see your CPU/RAM statistics, disk space, network upload and download rates, time, number of unread emails. There are even specific programs for videogames that enable you to see vital in-game information like health and various weapons/ammo count. The screen is collapsible, and will fold down if you won't want to use it.

The keys are a bit soft to the touch, but firm enough to be responsive (i.e., you're not guessing whether you pressed a button -- I call that the "public library computer syndrome"). It is a very quiet keyboard. The entire keyboard slopes gently downward (the top half of the keyboard is slightly lower than the bottom half of the keyboard), which makes it much more comfortable to use. It came with its own wrist rest (made of plastic), but I've opted for my existing gel wrist pad instead.

Other than the spacing of the extra function keys on the left side, the only other problems I see are: (1) lack of USB 2.0 support; (2) short-ish USB cable to connect to your computer; (3) better interface for accessing LCD interface. These are fairly minor criticisms, and the fact that the keyboard is on sale for 59.99 at makes this one a steal.

9 out of 10.

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