More than just a pretty screen

More than just a pretty screen

When the Logitech G15 gaming keyboard first appeared in the office, we thought it might end up being a one trick pony. The big selling point of the G15 is its LCD monitor, which can receive and correlate information from games and display it on the backlit screen for easy viewing. The LCD game support turned out to be extremely poor, but after further testing we were pleasantly surprised to find that many of the other functions proved to be very useful. The play, pause and track skip buttons are large and easy to press, and volume is altered with an extremely responsive swivel knob, rather than the ridiculously irritating touch pad present on the earlier model. These sorts of controls are perfect for skipping through music without having to minimise the game being played.

Another great timesaver is the macro keys present to the left of the main keypad. The 18 G-Keys can be mapped to execute a series of key presses with minimum effort. When gaming, users will no longer have to use the game console to create elaborate sets of commands. They can use the simple Logitech interface to bind them all to a single key. With things such as word processing on the other hand, they can macro common phrases or difficult words to save time.

The keyboard design is extremely practical as well. Obviously the myriad of extra keys mean the body is much larger than a regular keyboard, so users should be prepared for the G15 to take up a fair bit of real estate on the desk. Despite the multitude of features, the real selling point of the G15 is going to be the LCD. The box is plastered with pictures of the screen displaying remaining ammunition, health, and other in-game information. Naturally this led us to believe we could plug it in and away we'd go. Sadly, this was not the case. After more than an hour of trying to get the screen to work with any number of popular games (Doom 3 and F.E.A.R to name just two) we gave up, and visited Logitech's support site. It wasn't until we reached this point that we discovered the G15 doesn't support all games. In fact, it supports barely any at all. Two games are currently listed on their website as supported, neither of which are games of any real popularity. They are Brothers In Arms: Earned In Blood and SiN Episodes.

With so much else going for it, we were disappointed that Logitech elected to market the keyboard's LCD as its key feature. At no point did any of the accompanying documentation or marketing materials state it would not work with the majority of modern games. The macro keys, the back-lighting, media controls, design and general LCD functions make this more than a justified purchase, but a great many people will be interested in this keyboard because of the supposed gaming functions of the LCD, and it was a huge let down to discover they were virtually non-existent.

That said, the basic functions of the LCD were excellent. By default it displays time and date information that cycles with system resource information (how much of your CPU and RAM power is being used at any one time). Many people have such information displayed on their desktop via third party programs, so there is definitely a market for such information.

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