My quest for “Total Immersion Gaming” was recently fueled by the arrival of the G19 Gaming Keyboard. I have played with two gaming keyboards, the Zboard and Merc from Ideazon (SteelSeries) in the past. Both have some useful features, however I soon found them lacking and ended up going back to using a $20 generic keyboard. The G19 helped me toss that keyboard in the trash.
The G19 carries an LCD display, “So does the G15″ you say. And you’re right, the G15 does, but is it in COLOR? Yeah buddy, Logitech has included a 320 x 240 full color LCD on the G19, so much more impressive than the G15′s monochrome display. What really impressed me was the fact that the LCD runs on a low power Linux-based CPU. No matter how CPU intensive the game you are playing is, you can watch a YouTube video or listen to a MP3 with no slow down to your game at all. Having to download a codec package to get MP4 play back is a minor bitch; however, I was really disappointed in the playback of WMV files. Even 1 minute long clips stuttered. My other bitch about the LCD (this could just be something that I haven’t figured out) is that when I point the software at my media directory, it doesn’t have a play list feature, I have to manually start each video when one ends. Out of the box, the LCD is compatible with over 40 games, more enabled with the download of a patch. There aren’t many, however, my favorite user-created applet for the G19 is FalNET G19 Display Manager, if for no other reason that the ability to do disco lighting with the keys. Game support is up to the individual developers, not Logitech. So here’s praying that this keyboard will stay around long enough for the next generation of games to make use of this nifty feature.
Overall the LCD is a nice touch; however I found the color ability to be lacking. Black was too black (adjusting the brightness didn’t help) and wallpapers seemed to lose a large amount of quality as they were downsized.
The core design of the keyboard provides nice keystrokes and the 12 programmable G keys on the left edge will be a welcome addition during game play. With 3 switchable modes, you essentially have 36 macro buttons at your disposal. In my opinion, leaving out the G6 & G12 keys would have been a smart move since I haven’t yet gotten used to not finding the CTRL key on the far left. The Key Profiler software included with the keyboard allows for some serious macro creation. It’s easy to record key sequences with or without time delays, and then further configure them by hand. I loved the fact that I could add mouse events such as MWheel Up or right click. Quick Macros can also be created in-game by way of the Macro Record key, which will record everything except time delays and mouse events, then bind the macro to a G-key for immediate use. It’s possible to fine-tune and assign names to these Quick Macros later on within the Macro Manager. A nice touch to the Key Profiler was that it scanned my computer for supported games and loaded keystroke profiles automatically. I was disappointed to find out that my game settings wouldn’t come with me from computer to computer, unless the 2nd computer has the Logitech software installed.
The G19 is incredibly effective in terms of keystroke response and can recognize up to five simultaneous key presses (I actually managed to get it to recognize 6). With laser etched keys, you can program your backlight to match the color scheme of your case lighting (16 million psychedelic colors and yes it does look crispy in the dark). You customize the colors through the Logitech Profile software, which lets you bind three different colors to the three mode buttons for the programmable “G” keys.
Media function keys (Play/Pause, Stop, Forward, Backward, Mute and Volume) are found in the upper right corner. The volume control is barrel-shaped and rolls with the flick of your finger. It is not overly sensitive and it just seemed to take forever to get the volume to the level I wanted. It does take a few flicks to get things moving. The media keys work with most current media applications with no extra programming or tweaking needed.
The dual USB ports are handy and are placed just off to the right of the display for minimal wire clutter, but unfortunately Logitech has yet again passed over headphone/microphone port pass-through with the G19. Another downside to the G19 is that now that the keyboard packs such a powerful screen, it has to be independently powered by an included AC adapter in addition to USB.
All in all, I recommend getting this keyboard. The price is a little steep (MSRP: $199.99) however, it is well worth it. If you have the money, get this keyboard, you won’t be disappointed. I suggest doing a search online, because I was able to find it for as low as $169.99.