Logitech G19

Review

posted 3/16/2009 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
Included also with the base install are video and picture applets that let you view items saved on your computer. The picture applet can cycle through your pictures in a slideshow manner while the video player can play some items on your computer as well. The formats though seem limited as I was only able to play some WMV and MPEG files. DivX and Quicktime files were not supported even though I had the codecs installed. I sent to a message to my Logitech representative about the supported formats and was told that any item that Windows Media Player can play, the applet should be able to play as well. I replied saying that my Windows Media Player played DivX avi files fine but can't play in the applet. I haven't heard back yet but I will update the article should a response come later on on this situation.

Older applets even work with the new G19. They will be in black and white but at least the G19's applet support is backwards compatible. While I didn't get a chance to test that many applets, all the ones I used such as X-Fire, Hellgate London (R.I.P.), and a few others showed up just fine on the G19. They were in black and white of course but all in all, they fit well in the box rather than the rectangle that's on the G15.

As with the G15, the G19 applets can be developed by anyone as the SDK is available. I'd like to see more games get support for the color LCD as having in essence a small computer monitor could open up a number of possibilities for its use. There are those that argue why would you want to put anything important on the LCD screen instead of in your main display so that you don't have to look down. I say that given the right situation and the right applet, it can work to its advantage. Having played Hellgate London with the older keyboard, I liked having some of the statistical information on the LCD screen. Something that might be cool would be to create a radar that you can glance at providing valuable information quickly and in full color.

For everyday use, I found the G19 to be a good keyboard to type on. Coming from the Microsoft SideWinder X6 keyboard, I had to do some adjusting to the size of the setup. But, those that are used to bigger keyboards shouldn't have any troubles whatsoever. I tested the keyboard doing some programming using Visual Studio and found the macros to be beneficial for such things as binding quick keys to format code. No longer did I have to do a Ctrl-K, and Ctrl-F to make my code line up nicely in Visual Studio 08. All I had to do was record it and use it when I needed to. The programmable keys transcend gaming and can be beneficial in business or productivity applications making the feature more versatile.

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As for gaming, the keyboard performed as well as the G15 which I loved. The programmable keys came in really handy when I played the Engineer in Team Fortress 2. I was able to easily bind keys to sequences needed to build the dispenser, teleporter, or sentry gun. One nice little benefit of the groups is that I could bind the top groupings to build items and the second groupings to detonate items and made the keys correspond to the same item. So, I had the top left key to be building a sentry but in the second grouping of four, I had the top left key to be detonating. With this setup I was sure I was pressing the right button to build or detonate quickly. Response and feel were great and I was very happy with the performance of the G19.

Because of the LCD screen, the G19 needs to be plugged into an outlet to be powered. Current USB ports just don't supply enough juice to keep the LCD screen on and functioning. You can still use the keyboard if it's unplugged so that's good in case there isn't a spare power port around. A nice benefit though of having a powered keyboard is that the USB ports are now powered as well. Whereas before, you couldn't use some devices with the USB ports on the G15, I was able to plug in various items into the G19 USB port and have them all function perfectly. And with a lot of cell phones and other electronic items having the ability to recharge via USB ports, you'll be getting some extra electricity through the USB port to keep said items charged. The single cable from the keyboard gets split near the end into a USB connector and the pass through for the power. One thing I don't like about the plug is that it's one of those large brick plugs that can take up a lot of room on a power strip. I wish Logitech would do away with these as this isn't the only product like this and move the transformer before the end so that a normal sized plug could be included. Perhaps when the new USB standard is out which provides a lot more electricity to devices we can do away with the power plug in future iterations but until then we're stuck with plugging in the keyboard if you want to have the backlighting and LCD working.

Speaking of the G13, if you do have the Gaming Keypad the software will give you options for both the G13 and the G19 in the same control panel. You'll be able to easily configure both devices separately and attach whatever applets you want to each. As mentioned early, you can synchronize the color scheme or change them individually. Having the G13 already installed, I found no problems when the G19 was added to the mix as they had individual areas of customization in the menus and they operated independently..

The new LCD screen doesn't come cheap as the keyboard runs at $199. Yeah, we're talking about double the price of the G15. With that, you'll have to decide if paying double for the color LCD, powered USB ports, different backlighting colors, and improved LCD controls over a G15. Right now, you are paying on potential and the potential that was with the G15 when it was first released hasn't lived up to what I thought it would. Game compatibility is still sporadic and that's one thing I am afraid of with the G19. I think there's a lot of great uses that can come with the color LCD screen especially with the ability to control it better with a D-Pad but will developers devote time to it knowing that the item is expensive and not many people might have the capability to use it. The good thing about it though is that the SDK is out there for anyone to write applets for so if you have the skills you can do it yourself. I'd really like to see more games start coming with compatibility built in so that purchasing the G19 would actually be worth the high price tag as it would offer more to the gaming experience. It's a niche market now I think but I have to say the gorgeous screen of the G19 is something you have to see and for some it might be worth it to spend the money. If you have a G15 right now, it's hard to recommend it until more color specific applets are out but for those coming in without a high end gaming keyboard and is looking for one, the G19 is a great product as long as you have the money.


B+
The LCD screen is really nice looking and there are more programmable keys since the last G series keyboard. The downsides are you do have to plug it in to an outlet and it is pretty expensive. Even so, I really do like the way it's designed and I do hope a lot more programs take advantage of the color LCD in the future.


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