Logitech has been notorious over the years for making products that never break, ever. Iíve had my MX500 mouse for almost five years now, and itís exactly why NASA recently signed a contract with Logitech to have them produce their zero gravity toilet paper holders. I find it difficult to imagine anything more disagreeable than sitting on the can in space without ample toilet paper. So if NASA trusts them with something of this caliber, I know I sure as hell would. Donít believe me? Well good, because I made that up. But I am not fibbing with the rest of this review, unless I just lied about that as well. But I didnít, trust me.
The original Logitech G15 was an orchestra of bright blue lights, cheap paint, and full of keys you would never use. Fortunately, Logitech has learned from their mistakes this time around, and have made some serious changes. The lights are now orange, there are less programmable keys giving you more space, and the LCD screen on the front no longer folds down (which defeats the whole purpose of the keyboard). Let me get to the specs for a moment.
The device is connected to your PC via a 1.1 USB connection. This allows the keyboard to act as a USB hub, giving you two extra USB connections on the back; how spiffy is that? Along with this, comes the party piece - the LCD screen on the top pummelling you with information as you use your computer forÖ computing. And donít worry about visibility, the backlight is so vivid that you'll be hard pressed to find situations where it wouldnít be useful. Take for example, if you were stranded in the middle of the sea. If you had your G15 on hand, you would be able to point it toward the sky, and use it as a rescue beacon; and then as planes and satellites began plummeting from the atmosphere and crashing into the ocean, (because you inadvertently blinded them all with your orange Pharos of death) you could use the planes and satellites as life rafts until you safely floated to salvation.
Looking directly at, or near the LCD may cause cancer.
Now donít fret yet, Logitech has wisely given this keyboard three settings for the backlight, which was probably great when they thought of it. In practise though, itís useless. The three settings are 1) Is it on?, 2) Itís almost legible, let me press my face against it harder, and 3) Oh my god, my eyes are bleeding. Luckily though, you will be so busy praying to archaic Nordic gods to give you enough strength to press the keys down that you wonít even notice that your pupils have turned into a bright grayish mush.
You may think Iím exaggerating here, and I might be with the LCD brightness, but the key presses on this keyboard are no laughing matter. As I write this review, my fingernails have eroded away and have left a fine dust in between the keys, which frankly, ruin the aesthetics of the whole thing. When it comes time to fire up Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, The Specialists, or any other fast paced game where finely tuned movements are essential; it will start to get to you very badly. Itís not necessarily the hard-press keystrokes, but instead the incredibly annoying way in which the thing refuses to recognize your input. I can press any one of these letters, but if I donít apply enough force after the initial press, the key wonít recognize. This problem shows itself the most in games like the Unreal Tournament series, where you have to quickly press a movement key twice to dodge. Once you manage to get the key pressed fast enough twice, there is a risk the keyboard still might not recognize the keystroke because you pressed it too lightly, which is as frustrating as trying to fit square blocks into circular holes that were never there to begin with.
On to the looks, the high point of this keyboard. I have heard people compare the G15 to the interior of recent BMWs, which you can trust me when I say is a very nice thing. I fancy the form over function principle, and the G15 goes beyond that into form following function. The two tone gun metal and black materials go perfectly with the lucent orange highlights around the keyboard. The LCD is properly placed at the top center, as to make sure that your hands are never in the way. Even the media control buttons next to the LCD are shaped interestingly with the bottom ones connecting to each via a swooping piece as to not ruin the lines of the design. Also, the software that accompanies the LCD is brilliant; allowing anyone to make custom mods for anything ranging from programs telling you your system resource usage, to your depressing kill to death ratio in whatever first person shooter youíre trying to play. Which brings me to another issue.
Why in the world would Logitech go through the trouble of making sure a ton of games would support the LCD feature, but only support the ones no one plays? Sure, the keyboard gives you your stats in World of Warcraft and Ventrilo, which people do play/use; but what about Counter-Strike? Counter-Strike: Source? Let me put this into perspective. The keyboard has Enemy Territories: Quake Wars support out of the box; a game that has a few thousand people playing at any given moment. But to use the keyboard with Counter-Strike 1.6, or Counter-Strike Source, you have to go through a third party download to get it to work. I know this isn't a big deal, but what was Logitech thinking? Counter-Strike 1.6 and Counter-Strike: Source combined come to around 180,000 people playing at any given moment, a number immensely greater than Enemy Territories. But they just couldnít be bothered to add support out of the box?
Okay, so this is not a huge deal, but it brings me to my final complaint with the keyboard - it is not well thought through. When youíre dropping almost $100- thatís one, hundred, dollars, for something like a keyboard; you want it to be well tested and proven. Not once did Logitech stop to think ďAre these key presses good for gaming? What about the programs weíre going to release with the product, are they pertinent to the people who will buy it? Do customers really need USB ports on a keyboard when they canít use their thumb drives or iPods on them?Ē The USB ports are only 1.1 standard so nothing works. The keystrokes feel more at home on a six dollar HP keyboard from 1996, the software bundled with it is not nearly enough, and the build quality is mediocre. If I am spending $100 on a product where its competitors are at half of the price or lower, I want something to strike me was worth it. And unfortunately, nothing here does.
In summary, the keyboard is average for something half its price; and like most beautiful things, it is shallow and boring. If you want a gaming keyboard, and it HAS to have an LCD, whatís wrong with the older, cheaper, bluer, and better version? Unless the looks are so important that you absolutely must have it, get the older one. And if you donít need the LCD, just buy a Saitek instead. Trust me, words are incapable of describing how ridiculous I look as I sit here wearing UV resistant sunglasses with forearms the size of telephone poles. Itís unattractive, really.
Thanks for reading my article, it was published on planethalflife.com, so if you read it there, I apologize.