Logitech’s revamped G15 keyboard is better than its predecessor for sure, but only in small increments. It’s a little smaller, a little slicker, and a bit more useful, with new features that almost justify the steep price tag. Those of you with the older G15 will likely want to pass on this update though.
Features and Design
Logitech’s G15 keyboard is a product that needs no introduction. The first revision, dubbed the “G15 Gaming Keyboard,” was an awesome keyboard, and was generally great for gaming. Not so much because of the multitude of macro keys and the largely useless LCD, but rather because of the backlit keys and the comfortable layout. There were a few problems of course, including its size and the fact that the LCD was mostly a gimmick, but overall it was great that Logitech was making an effort to make a truly hardcore keyboard with a thoughtful design.
Now the company has redesigned the G15, and dropped the “Gaming” portion of its name, perhaps to appeal to a wider audience. The biggest change is that it’s now much smaller, which is a good thing in our opinion. There’s no longer a huge array of macro buttons on the left-side of the keyboard. Instead there is just a single strip of six keys, and then three “channel” keys giving you access to 18 macros.
There’s a “macro record” button that makes recording macros very simple. You just press the MR button, press a macro key that you want to use, then type out your combination of keys, and press the MR button again and you’re done. You can also use the included software to make macros and assign keys to certain functions.
The included software lets you easily assign functions to the six macro keys
The LCD screen is now locked in place, rather than being on a hinge so you can either flip it up or close it completely. It features a rather large assortment of doohickeys, such as support for WoW, Ventrilo, Fraps and a number of games listed here. There are also media control buttons, and two unpowered USB ports behind the LCD.
The included software for the LCD is easy to use, and lets you enable, disable and configure the included widgets.
Logitech’s software lets you enable, disable or configure what’s displayed on the LCD
Instead of blue backlighting, the G15 now features soft amber lighting. One welcome addition is you can now cycle the backlighting with a push of the button. The cycle includes lights off, a soft glow, and a brighter glow.
Finally, underneath the keyboard there are channels for your headset wires, which is handy.
Use and Testing
The first thing we noticed about the G15 is how slick the keys feel on our fingers. Logitech began using this new super-slick surface on its recent keyboards, including the Cordless Desktop MX3200 Laser. It feels unlike any keyboard we’ve ever used, which have a grainier feel. We like the feel of the keys, and the positive feeling is enhanced by the soft curves of each key.
The lighting of the keys is soft and never bothersome, but even if it was, you could turn it off or dial it down a notch, which was appreciated when it came time to hit the sack. It would be nice if there were other colors to choose from other than amber, but we like the soft orange and prefer it over the blue on the Gaming version since it’s a bit softer and not quite as bright.
The LCD is still relatively useless and has some issues. For example, whenever we played “media” it would automatically switch to the “media display” mode from whatever mode we were in before, and then we had to manually switch it back to the previous mode. One would think the software would intelligently do this, but that is not the case. We mostly used it to monitor our CPU and memory usage, but you can also use it as an LCD calendar, a countdown timer, or download custom widgets from the Logitech website.
There are also four unlabeled buttons underneath the LCD, and we have no idea what they do. We looked in the included installation guide but saw no reference to them. When you press one, an icon that looks like a calendar pops up, and then disappears. We looked online for documentation and could find none, so the keys’ purpose remains a mystery.
We also found the media buttons to work as they should in Windows Media Player and iTunes, but not in Winamp. For example, in Winamp the volume controls work, but the stop button does not, and the pause key rewinds the track to the beginning.
The software that is included with the keyboard is decent, and is accessible via an icon in the system tray. You can use it to disable, enable and configure the widgets. You can also turn down the brightness of the display separate from the keyboard lights, and even invert the lighting from orange on brown to brown on orange. Overall it’s intuitive and useful, and the interface is simple and effective.
As for other ancillary things, there’s a button to disable the Windows key, which is something all keyboards should have. We liked being able to cycle the backlight too, and found the optional wrist wrest to be very comfortable.
We’ve been using the original G15 Gaming Keyboard as our home keyboard for the past eight months or so, and the G15 is very similar, but slightly better in our opinion. The biggest difference is that the keys feel better, the backlighting is softer, and there are enough new features to make it truly superior to its predecessor. Though we would not sell our G15 Gaming Keyboard for this newer model, the G15 has enough upgrades to warrant a serious look if you’re in the market for a superb gaming keyboard.
• Comfortable to use
• Great features
• Looks cool
• LCD is still of questionable value
• Some buttons appear to do nothing