Reviewed: January 22, 2006
What's in the Box
Buying a new keyboard is like buying a new bed or a new recliner. There is a certain comfort level that has to be forsaken with the old item in order to make way for the new. Thatís probably while in the 12 years I have owned computers I have only had less than six keyboards, and my last three keyboards are still in use on secondary systems.
Iíve been a loyal Logitech keyboard fan ever since I reviewed their Cordless MX Duo back in 2003 and until their new Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard came along I have never once been tempted to use another keyboard, especially one that took away my wireless status. Not that I type from thirty feet away, but I certainly enjoy a desk without a cord running across to the back.
But I guess itís time for a change. After all, I havenít been using the mouse that came with the Duo since the MX1000 and more recently, the G7 Laser Mouse invaded my office, but it sure is hard to switch keyboards after almost two and a half years of continuous typing. Thatís a whole lot of typed game reviews and keyboard-pounding FPS gaming. If anything, it just goes to prove how durable Logitech keyboards are.
So whatís makes the G15 Gaming Keyboard worthy of replacing your all too familiar keyboard? A whole lot of things actually, but here is the short list. The Folding LCD Panel is probably the main feature of this keyboard. Just flip it up and you have an awesome display capable of showing online chats or crucial game data like ammo count and health, thus freeing up your screen from those annoying HUDís. Outside the game the display can show your CPU and RAM usage, a clock, and there are plenty of other user mods in the works to make use of this screen.
The next noteworthy feature is the array of programmable G keys along the left side of the keyboard. These 18 keys can be used as shortcuts for common commands or complex macros, and with three shift modes you have up to 54 possible commands at your disposal.
Then you have all the expected features with a modern multi-function keyboard. There is the ergonomic wrist rest, media player buttons for volume and track selection, a mute button, and of course we cannot overlook the backlit feature. And for the ultimate in convenience, there is a pair of USB connectors in the back of the keyboard perfect for jacking in your MP3 player or memory stick.
Installation - 10
Installation is as simple as 123, or should I say USB. Just plug this keyboard into an available USB port and Windows XP auto-detects and you are nearly read to go. Of course to get the full functionality of this device you will need to install the software that allows you to customize the LCD panel and configure the G keys. But even this installation is extremely quick and for once, doesnít require you to reboot the PC.
With the included software itís a snap to configure your own custom settings to the G keys and create profiles specific to certain games. The LCD functionality is game specific and requires a patch from the developer. The website currently list seven titles that are either available or coming soon that work with the G15, and I can only imagine more will be quick to follow when this keyboard achieves the legendary status I think it will.
Aesthetics - 10
This is one sexy keyboard and it gets even hotter when you turn out the lights. The blue backlighting is fantastic for one very simple reason Ė they light the letters and not the keyboard. Iíve tried other backlit keyboards where the light is simply behind the keys and those are even harder to read than if they werenít lit at all.
On the G15 every labeled key and button is lit and easy to read in total darkness. The memory keys and lock toggles are a pleasant gold color while the rest of the board is an ultra-cool blue. You can turn off the backlighting if you wish or choose from two intensity modes, although the difference between low and high is negligible.
The overall design and footprint of the keyboard is slightly larger than normal with an extra three inches on the left to house the G keys. The two-tone black plastic and faux-metallic silver finish is quite stylish and the hollow handles on the back are probably more for show than functionality.
The potential of the LCD screen has yet to be fully tapped but there is a dedicated mod community out there looking for creative uses. Itís only a matter of time before you can have your instant messenger or MP3 software displaying on this screen. They already have mods for IRC and email.
Durability - 9
The G15 is designed with the gamer in mind so the keys are durable and responsive. The weakest design element of the entire keyboard is likely the LCD display, but until you dropped the keyboard with the display open it should be relatively safe. The detachable wrist rest has some flimsy snaps to connect it, but once they are in place itís surprisingly solid. Again, a big drop is the only thing that would break this.
Performance - 10
So far the G15 has kept up with me as I have pummeled demons in DOOM 3 and aliens in QUAKE 4. The G keys have proven themselves invaluable in RTS and RPG games where I can assign frequently used commands to those shortcuts. The ability to program and reprogram your macros on-the-fly is a huge benefit, and there is even a keyboard overlay you can download and customize then print out for each profile.
Everything is still highly responsive, even after a hundred hours of gaming and dozens of typed reviews (including this one). The USB ports are also extremely useful, allowing me to jack in my MP3 player or PSP without having to string a cable around to the back of my PC.
Value - 9
Keyboards are fairly cheap these days but those are also ďcheapĒ keyboards. Sure, the G15 is $80 and costs more than most wireless keyboard and mouse combos, but the G15 is specifically targeted to the high-end gamer who demands quality, durability, and the ability to play in the dark. The G15 has you covered, and once more mods start appearing you might just wonder how you ever lived without that LCD display.
Overall Ė 9.8
Sure Iím giving this keyboard a high score, but the real proof of quality is the simple fact that the Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard is still sitting on my desktop and will continue to do so until Logitech can figure out a way to improve on what is already a nearly perfect keyboard.
If you take your gaming seriously, need access to up to 54 instant commands, would like to move your game HUD off the monitor, or just want to type in the dark, the G15 is the hottest keyboard on the planet. Now, why isnít it on your desk?