G15 Gaming Keyboard
When the Logitech G15 gaming keyboard first appeared in the office, we thought it might end up being a one trick pony. The big selling point of the G15 is its LCD monitor, which can receive and correlate information from games and display it on the backlit screen for easy viewing. The LCD game support turned out to be extremely poor, but after further testing we were pleasantly surprised to find that many of the other functions proved to be very useful.
- Great macro keys, media keys, backlit
- LCD gaming support is a extremely poor, strange noise when typing after long use
We were bitterly disappointed when we discovered the LCD game support was barely existent, but apart from that this is a strong contender for the best keyboard on the market, offering features that will please both gamers and desktop users
Price$ 140.00 (AUD)
Earlier, we reviewed another Logitech keyboard, the MX5000, which was dubbed a media keyboard. It had play, pause and track skip buttons, as well as touch pad sliders to manipulate volume and zoom in on video footage; but we found these features unresponsive and difficult to use. The G15 has all of those functions in a vastly improved layout, and we couldn't help but wonder why Logitech went with the other design at all. The buttons are large and easy to press, and volume is altered with an extremely responsive swivel knob, rather than the ridiculously irritating touch pad present on the earlier model. These sorts of controls are perfect for skipping through music without having to minimise the game you're playing, but they can also save a few seconds during any basic computer task.
Another great timesaver is the macro keys present to the left of the main keypad. The 18 G-Keys can be mapped to execute a series of key presses with minimum effort., becoming a valuable tool with infinite applications in almost every facet of computing. When gaming, you will no longer have to use the game console to create elaborate sets of commands, you can use the simple Logitech interface to bind them all to a single key. With things like word processing on the other hand, you can macro common phrases or difficult words to save time. The keys can also be bound to run a certain program. There is even provision to have up to three combinations of macros, say one for gaming, one for desktop and one for word processing for example. That gives a total of 54 possible macros.
The keyboard design is extremely practical as well. Obviously the myriad of extra keys mean the body is much larger than a regular keyboard, so be prepared for the G15 to take up a fair bit of real estate on your desk. The sleek silver and black colouration looks great, and the keys have a blue back-light that furthers the aesthetic appeal. The back-light is designed to allow gaming in the dark and in our testing it lit up the keys perfectly but thankfully, there's an option to switch it off should it becomes annoying.
Apart from the extra functions, the keys are set up in a standard QWERTY layout, and are a joy to type with. They feel crisp and responsive and are comfortable to use, even over long periods of time, however after a few days use we began to notice a twanging sound being emitted from the keyboard when typing particularly fast. The first couple of times we used it, we were impressed by how quiet the key presses were, but this noise quickly began to get on our nerves. Fortunately, this twang was not accompanied by any degradation in performance.
Despite the multitude of features, the real selling point of the G15 is going to be the LCD. The box is plastered with pictures of the screen displaying remaining ammunition, health, and other in-game information. Naturally this led us to believe we could plug it in and away we'd go. Sadly this was not the case. After over an hour of trying to get the screen to work with any number of popular games (Doom 3 and F.E.A.R to name a few) we gave up, and payed a visit to Logitech's support site. It wasn't until we reached this point that we discovered the G15 doesn't support all games, in fact, it supports barely any at all. Two games are currently listed on their website as supported, neither of which are games of any real popularity. They are Brothers In Arms: Earned In Blood and SiN Episodes.
With so much else going for it, we were disappointed that Logitech elected to market the keyboard's LCD as its key feature. At no point did any of the accompanying documentation or marketing materials state it would not work with the majority of modern games. The macro keys, the back-lighting, media controls, design and general LCD functions make this more than a justified purchase, but a great many people will be interested in this keyboard because of the supposed gaming functions of the LCD, and it was a huge let down to discover they were virtually non-existent.
That said, the basic functions of the LCD were excellent. By default it displays time and date information that cycles with system resource information (how much of your CPU and RAM power is being used at any one time). Many people have such information displayed on their desktop via third party programs, so there is definitely a market for such information.
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