Review: Logitech G19s Gaming Keyboard
[[Introduction & Features]]
Logitech sent us two gaming keyboards a few weeks ago; one of them was the G710+ and the other is the one we will look at here – the G19s. The latter is Logitech’s highest-end model and costs a whopping RM699. Having said that, it does offer some pretty nifty features so let’s get into it.
Smartest Keyboard On The Block
Most gaming keyboards in the market are just keyboards that have a few distinguishing physical features, like mechanical switches or rubberized WASD keys. But the G19s probably has the most built-in intelligence, thanks to a smart LCD display that’s perched right on top. This “Gamepanel”, as Logitech calls it, measures about 2.5-inches diagonally and has a 320 x 240 screen resolution. That’s not high-res, but is adequate for the tasks that it’s called to perform (more on that later).
The G19s has a lot of extra buttons at the sides but the keyboard itself has a standard US-layout. The company has chosen to use silicone membrane switches, rather than the mechanical ones found on most gaming keyboards. These have a slightly different feel to them, compared to most mechanical switches that have a very precise tactile response when pressed. The silicone membrane switches feel rather muffled and require users to completely depress the key before the keystroke is registered.
Macros Made Easy
There are a total of twelve programmable keys arranged in groups of fours on the left side of the keyboard. Users can have three different sets of macros for each key, so technically, you can have up to 36 macros at your disposal. Macros can be recorded on-the-fly or step-by-step via software. This keyboard even has on-board memory so users can bring their macros and profiles to another PC. The G19s has 6-key anti-ghosting, so that means you can press up to 6 keys simultaneously and the game will still register those keypresses. A game mode slider disables your Windows key to prevent those nasty interruptions to your gaming session. There are four multimedia buttons on the top right, plus a roller wheel to control audio volume. Apart from these, there is a navigation directional pad plus several other keys to control the Gamepanel.
Speaking of the Gamepanel, this display can be programmed for a variety of uses, from displaying the CPU’s speed and utilization to system temperature. You can even use it as a second screen to play videos. Or it can be used by your games to display your character’s health and mana. Basically, developers or users themselves can create applets to use the Gamepanel the way they see fit. There are quite a number of game titles that make use of the Gamepanel and some of the notable ones include Borderlands, Crysis, Everquest II and World of Warcraft.
[[Ergonomics & Software]]
More Cable Clutter
As for the connectors and ports, the G19s is hooked up to your computer via a single USB 2.0 cable. However, unlike most keyboards that draw power from the USB port, the G19s requires a separate 5V 2.4A power adapter which is a bit of a hassle; it also adds to the cabling mess that plagues many desktop PCs. The good news is that the keyboard also acts as a USB 2.0 hub, providing two ports that are located next to the Gamepanel on the top of the keyboard.
In the ergonomics department, the G19s is so-so. The wrist rest is detachable, and it’s made of plastic so that’s not too comfortable, but at least it isn’t sticky. The keyboard itself isn’t curved in the middle, but you can raise the top so it’s slightly slanted towards the user. The Gamepanel can be tilted slightly to make it easier on the eyes. Apart from that, there’s not much in the way of creature comfort.
The Way Drivers Should Be
Software-wise, Logitech has done well in keeping its drivers and interface consistent. There’s one piece of software to download: the Logitech Gaming software. This detects all the Logitech gaming gear that you have plugged in and allows you to configure or customise their settings. The interface is clean and very easy to use. There’s a visual representation of your Logitech product and the programmable keys are clearly labeled so even beginners wouldn’t have much of a problem. Users can also customise the backlight LED colours, just in case you don’t like the default settings. There’s a colour wheel or if you’re too lazy, 22 different colour presets to choose from. In terms of customisation, I would say that the G19s has way more options than any other gaming keyboard I’ve seen.
A Pricey Proposition
At RM699, the Logitech G19s isn’t cheap; in fact, I’m quite sure it’s the most expensive keyboard on most store shelves. There’s no doubt that it offers the most customisable features, from the Gamepanel to the backlighting, but some gamers aren’t willing to pay for these features. The Gamepanel seems to be a good idea (in theory), but I found it very difficult to use; if you’re playing WoW (for example), you would need to take your eyes off the screen just to look at your health. That split second is all it takes for someone to gank you on a PvP server, so I must say that the Gamepanel isn’t terribly practical.
The G19s’ keys are comfortable to type on, but the use of silicone membrane switches rather than mechanical ones make it less desirable. The rather dull feel of its key-presses make gaming less exciting, I’d say. The tactile feel and actuation force of mechanical keys are still better suited for gaming.
Overall, it’s still a very good keyboard with great features. Although the G19s misses out on our MAX Choice award, there’s no doubt that it fully deserves the Innovation award for trying to improve the gaming experience for all the gamers out there.