Logitech G19 Keyboard for Gaming Review

Propane - 2009-08-24 16:47:13 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: Propane   
Reviewed on: October 6, 2009
Price: 199.99 USD


Everyone has used a keyboard, and most people use them every day for every reason, from gaming to chatting, to writing a midterm paper. While some keyboards have just a basic set of keys, others, like the Logitech G19 have more keys than anyone could ever wish for. While most users never will need anything more than the free keyboard that comes with their computer, gamers and enthusiasts will take full advantage of of everything that comes on the G19. From the miniature, full color screen, to the media and gaming keys, this keyboard has it all. The direct successor to Logitech's G15, this keyboard should perform up to a high standard.


Closer Look:

The packaging for the G19 is not too flashy but you can tell it is a performance keyboard just by looking it. The background is the familiar Logitech shade of green, and the keyboard is lit up orange. On the back of the box is a list of specifications and features, as well as another picture of the keyboard.














Opening up the box reveals the keyboard in a plastic sleeve with two storage areas at the top to store the cables. Under the keyboard is the add-on piece to add to the end of the keyboard as a wrist rest.


Also in the box are a power cable, the software CD, and the information booklets.

Closer Look:

Right off the bat there are several features of the keyboard that catch the eye. First off is an LCD screen in the top center of the keyboard. As we will see later, this screen can be used to do quite a bit, and is programmable using Logitech's API which is provided. Another feature not seen on many keyboards is an entire two rows of programmable "G" keys. These can be used to create macros that do things automatically for you. Other than these, most of the keys on this keyboard are pretty standard, like media keys and the alphabet which can all change through a multitude of colors, set by software.




















The screen also has a special set of keys that are used to control it outside of the software run on the computer. These keys are pretty easy to figure out, but always backlight with an amber color and do not change with the rest of the keyboard. The small slider key on the far left of this picture is used to disable keys that might interrupt gameplay, like the windows key.


The back of the keyboard has some small feet to incline the keyboard if you so choose. Another interesting feature found on the back of the keyboard is the wire channels. These channels allow you to route a wire through them and not upset the balance of the keyboard. This allows you to have USB headphones plugged into the USB ports on the back of the keyboard and have the wire come out through the front.



The keyboard required external power, requiring the DC power adapter shown here. However, the keyboard also has two usb ports so you can use it as an USB hub as well.



The full color screen that attached to the keyboard can change its tilt over a small margin, but enough to allow for people of varying heights and keyboard heights to properly adjust the screen to see it without image distortion.



The software that comes with the G19 will work on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Macintosh OS X, albeit with limited support. One notable missing area of support is for Windows 7. However, by using compatibility mode work arounds, I was able to get it running on Windows 7 RC as well. There is no Linux support, even 3rd party, that I could find, and when running in Linux, the LCD usually just displays the Logitech logo. Since the Windows versions of the software are the most complete, I will be using it to show the configuration possibilities, although the Macintosh configuration is also very similar. It should be noted that all basic functions of the keyboard work fine without drivers, as would be expected.

The first part of the software I will look at is the "G-Key Profiler". This piece of software allows you to make the G keys do what you want them to do. You can assign profiles to the different memory buttons, and change the backlight color of the keyboard to any of the basic 16 colors (in Macintosh you can change it to any 24bit color, though some do not display very well).

















Assigning a macro to a key is very simple. All that needs to be done is to press the key you want with the mouse to select it, then pick one of the options from the drop-down menu. Choosing to create a macro brings up a new dialogue box which allows you to create your macro and assign several different methods of running it.



The second piece of software that comes with the Logitech G19 is the Logitech LCD Manager. This piece of software allows you to adjust how the LCD behaves. The first screen allows you to set the programs ran on the LCD to rotate through automatically, so you don't have to do it yourself. This is handy if you want to alternate between a clock and performance monitor, but I have found it annoying with some of the applications, like the picture viewer. The next screen shows the programs that are running on the LCD. If you are not planning on using a program, it is highly advantageous to turn it off, as it takes up RAM and CPU on your main computer even if they aren't showing on the LCD. Some programs can consume upwards of 15MB of RAM, which, if you are limited on your machine's RAM, can be a significant amount.



The last four screens are less exciting. The Global Settings screen controls how the tray icon behaves and how the window sizes are handled from session to session. The help screen just allows you to launch into a Windows Help file, and the 'Internet Updates' screen just lets you quickly check for updates. Finally, the 'About' screen just gives you a little information about the software in use.









All information courtesy of Logitech @ http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/keyboards/keyboard/devices/4956&cl=us,en


Most things that are tested at Overclockers Club are things that can be tested quantitatively, however a keyboard has no benchmark that can be run on it, so I will do my best to subjectively review the keyboard with no bias. There will be several different areas of testing I will perform, including Gaming, Comfort, Customization, and the general feel of the keyboard.


Testing System:










This keyboard is really geared towards the gamer crowd, and many popular games have support for the G19 LCD screen. Also, the "G" keys provide a quick way to perform several complex tasks easily and repeatdly. Personally, I have also been using the USB hub to power my USB headset which is incredibly useful to not have to reach behind my computer every time I want to use it. As for keyboard responsiveness, I noticed no lag, but I am by no means a professional gamer either.



The G19 was a little difficult for me to get used to at first. I kept orienting my hands over the keyboard at the far bottom left, so when I tried to press the left control key, I would actually hit the G6 key. It took me a few days to get over this, but I still do this every once in a while. Other than this, there are very few gripes I have with this keyboard. It would be nice if all the keys, including the LCD control keys, could be changed, but that is a minor issue and something that is easily overlooked.



This keyboard is very comfortable. However, some people, who like hard "clicky" keys will hate this keyboard. These keys have a very soft feel to them, and are fairly quiet, which I personally like for gaming. The ability to adjust the tilt of both the keyboard and the LCD also mean that no matter how you sit or how tall you are, you will most likely be able to find a combination that allows you to have a comfortable view of the LCD and allow typing to also be comfortable.



Obviously the G19 keyboard is very customizable. The keyboard has 12 macro keys, an LCD screen that can be set to display a wealth of information, and a backlight that can display most any color, although some colors display better than others. Additionally, the ability to change between three profiles at the touch of a button is key. If you have several games you switch between, you can make three separate profiles, complete with different backlight colors, to handle all your custom key macros.


USB Performance:

The keyboard's USB ports are fully USB 2.0 compliant, and a test performed with Flash Memory Toolkit showed no discernible difference in transfer speeds to or from a 32GB Corsair flash drive. Both the keyboard's hub as well as the direct ports on the computer transferred within about 10% of each other, with there being a slight bias towards the USB ports on the keyboard. The difference is only 0.1 megabytes per second, so the difference is extremely small. The image on the left is the screenshot of flash memory toolkit when the USB drive (a Corsair 32GB USB key), was plugged into the keyboard, while the image on the right is directly into the computer.



While Logitech makes products for many different markets, the G19 keyboard is definitely aimed at gamers. Everything on it is projected to gamers, from the backlit keyboard, to the "G" keys, to the full color LCD screen that can display in-game information, or allow you to watch YouTube while you are in the middle of a round of Team Fortress 2. While the keys aren't "clicky", I feel it provides a better gaming experience, but might alienate some of the people that prefer the more solid tactile feedback of the old IBM Model M keyboards. The addition of the USB hub is another great benefit, since any USB devices can easily be plugged in right on the desk.

Additionally, the software, and its ability to work easily on multiple operating systems is superb. The ability to set up pretty much any macro you want, to change the color of the keyboard backlight, and control the LCD panel all from the OS is an awesome feature. The one downside is that you cannot change specific key colors or level of lighting. However, this is a small issue with an otherwise great keyboard, as long as the price does not drive you away.