Logitech G15 Gaming LCD Keyboard-
The placing of the programmable buttons is the most glaring problem with the G15. Having them on the left side of the keyboard simply does not work. The keys labeled G1 through G18 are on the left side grouped in sixes. I tried popular titles such as GTA San Andreas, CS:S, Far Cry and Black and White with the G15. For the most part I found them rather tricky to use. The reason being that most games and gamers use keys w, a, s and d to move their character or progress through their world depending on the game. Having the programmable buttons on the left makes you remove your hand from your movement controls to use the keys. This leaves you idle and vulnerable. Also, finding your way back to the main keys from the programmable takes too long. Seeing as your left hand blocks the view of the backlit programmable keys, it can take the added movement of lifting your hand away to see what key you are about to press. This is not conducive to high-speed gaming. For RPG’s such as Black and White this keyboard is just fine, great in fact. As long as the game isn’t really high paced the keyboard can be a lot more useful than most others. In GTA, I assigned the keys to cheats (sshhh!), as most of them are about ten characters long. Playing god and instantly altering the weather with one keystroke beats the heck out of typing “Toodamnhot” every time. The ability to use one of 54 preset macros is available and more than ample for most users.
After finding that I had more negative points than positive I decided to take a more open-minded approach and ask another avid gamer what his feelings were. Without prompting he noted the same deficiencies as I did. His hands and arms were smaller and shorter than mine yet he was still put off by the amount of space needed to create a comfortable gaming environment. After shifting positions over the course of an evening of gaming he to noted the difficulty involved when placing the G15 on your desktop.
Most gamers will probably assign the buttons to trigger a sequence of attacks or commands. They likely will not set a macro to perform a movement for them as often as movement is more situation-based and less predictable. It is this fact that made me think the keys should have been set to the right side of the keyboard instead. This to would create some problems given the overall size of the G15. The stance of the 21.5" x 10.5" (keyboard w/ included wrist rest) is too wide to accommodate a gamer’s position. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, when I set up the keyboard with a gaming mouse and a joystick I used over half of my desk just to get enough room for them all. This isn’t an unusual set up and Logitech apparently had no regard for how much width the G15 would take up or the possibility that a gamer may need room for another peripheral, i.e., joystick. Even with my 6’3 wingspan I found it uncomfortable using this setup. A person with shorter arms may find themselves moving peripherals around during heated game play. I can completely Eclipse (pun intended) my Saitek keyboard with the G15 as it is around three inches bigger overall.
The LCD screen was the main thing that peaked my interest initially. When opened, the hinged screen at the top center of the unit can be used to show time, date, cpu usage, ram usage, current song playing and in game stats depending on the game. These are far more useful options than I thought they would be. I really liked seeing the details from Real Player under my currently running apps. The play, pause, stop and track buttons were probably the best feature of the entire keyboard. So why didn’t Logitech make the screen more attractive? The first thing that came to mind was the term “Liquid Spinach” that was used by Sega in the early nineties when comparing their color Game Gear screen to Nintendo’s Game Boy. Having this bland screen attached to an attractive keyboard is like having a brand new Blu-Ray DVD player plugged into your grandfather’s 20-year-old console TV. It looks like a cheap afterthought more than part of the original design. For the price of the keyboard it should offer a screen that at least rivals the quality of a mid range cell phone. On the back of the box to the keyboard it specifically shows the LCD displaying specs for a FPS game. This profile is nowhere to be found in the accompanying software and Logitech seems to expect users to build or find their own. This oversight really puts a dent in what should be the highlight of the G15. A quick trip to Google will lead you to some gamers/programmers who have created software for the G15 that will let some games display information on the LCD. The various applications accommodate many of today’s popular titles but I still can’t help but think Logitech dropped the ball by leaving it up to the developer community entirely.
The increasingly more common back light feature on the G15 gives the unit a nice deep blue glow and helps users find keys in darkness or low light conditions. All of the keys are illuminated, as are the mode and audio control buttons. The button on the top right of the keyboard gives you three options for the lighting off, medium and high. Aside from off there is barely any difference between the settings. The difference between med and high is so negligible I just kept it on high because it made me feel better. While the brightness settings are more defined on the comparable (yet far superior) Saitek Eclipse, I prefer the bluish hue that is emitted by the Logitech.
I wanted to like this keyboard. In fact I wanted to adore it, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I spent a lot of time perched at my desk like a guy at the local watering hole trying to get down that last beer so the ugly chick at the end of the bar finally looks like she’s worth the risk. Alas, sobriety got the best of me and I was unable to make the upside of the G15 outweigh the downside. The twinkle in the LCD wasn’t enough to overwhelm me she was simply too out of shape to grace my desktop.
The G15 oozes potential but little else aside from the blue light. I think a sophomore effort will be an award-winning device but until then the G15 is merely a middle of the road peripheral. If you wanted to spice up your desk at work or use it for the occasional game, the G15 is ideal. If you thought this was the last piece you needed to game like Fred Savage in The Wizard you will be disappointed.