Logitech G15 Gaming LCD Keyboard

- 2007-01-12 23:03:50 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by:    
Reviewed on: June 7, 2006
Logitech
GfcityComputers
Price: $69.99 USD
Introduction
I knew this review might not be the most favorable when I found myself reaching for my old keyboard to write the review itself. Sure the Logitech is billed as a gaming keyboard but I should not be shelving it in favor of my original at the price it costs. The G15 gaming keyboard boasts a folding LCD screen, backlit keys and an array of programmable buttons intended to help you blast through your favorite games with ease.


Closer Look
While the build quality is quite good, the overall feel of the keyboard is surprisingly stagnant. The size of the device coupled with its thin vertical build makes it kind of flexible when the two feet are used. When lying flat the keyboard feels exactly that, flat. The quiet keys feel lifeless as opposed to crisp and they don’t really differ from a standard office keyboard whatsoever.

The spacebar is standard size as are all of the keys. A mute button and a gaming mode button are also present on the top of the keyboard. While mute is self-explanatory, the gaming mode button is a bit of a question mark. It is questionable in the way it does so little. You would think a quick press of the gaming mode button brings the keyboard to life perhaps lessening the buyer’s remorse you may be experiencing by this point but no, the button simply turns off the windows button. That is it.



The bizarre handle-like styling accents on the top corners are completely useless. They look as if they should be handles so you can carry the keyboard off to a LAN party or something yet nobody in my household could get their fingers even halfway through the holes. I’ve yet to figure out what they are for aside from collecting dirt. One feature I am very fond of is the presence of two USB ports on the front of the G15. I used these when sitting with the G15 in front of my projector and was able to have the mouse attached avoiding the use of extension cables beyond the keyboard.

Installation
The software is straightforward in both the installation and implementation. The standard macro and profile options are all present here. The interface is rather appealing in its layout and function. For some games the keyboard will actually identify the title and load the appropriate profile for the game. Other times the user simply opens up the profiler from the systray and selects the right game. As mentioned this goes only for the button profiles as no help is available for the LCD. The intelligent macro recorder is intuitive to use and even lets you make finite adjustments such as altering the delay when pressing and releasing keys.

Specifications
Adjustable-tilt, backlit LCD display
The GamePanel™ LCD shows you crucial system information during gameplay*.

Folding LCD panel
Closes completely for storage or transportation. Take it with you to LAN parties for that extra gaming edge.

Backlit keyboard
Three brightness levels, for playing in darkened rooms.

Programmable G keys Use the 18 programmable 'G keys' to execute common keystrokes or complex macros.

View game stats.
Use the GamePanel™ LCD to view game stats, create new macros, and keep track of important system information without leaving the game. The LCD panel closes completely for transport and storage.

Play in the dark.
Illuminated characters are easily visible in both bright- and low-light conditions, with three levels of backlighting for late-night gaming sessions.

Create and save macros with a press of a button.
18 fully programmable “G Keys” have three shift states each, for 54 possible custom macros per game

Eliminate cable hassles!
Intelligently route mouse, headset, or other cables using convenient channels under the keyboard.

Record custom key sequences.
Make on-the-fly additions to your key programming set with Macro Record button.

Watch and listen.
Convenient media keys for easy management of audio and video playback

Testing
Programmable Keys
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.

LCD Screen
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.

 


Lighting
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.

Conclusion
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.

Pros

  • LCD Screen
  • Appearance
  • Play Controls
  • Programmable Buttons
  • Profiler is intuitive
  • Macros are fantastic
Cons
  • LCD Screen is very boring, should be blue
  • LCD Support is non-existent
  • Placement of programmable buttons
  • Overall Size
  • Feel of keys

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