So you have the fastest quad core money can buy, overclocked to the max. You have the latest graphics chips and watercooling, but you are still using the same budget keyboard that came with your old pc five years ago.
It is a situation that many of us enthusiasts find ourselves in. We spend hundreds (or thousands) on the latest high spec components but skimp on the bits that we use the most. The keyboard and mouse.
It has been well understood that a good mouse can make a huge difference in a gamer's score, but a keyboard has never been so important. I mean, one keyboard is much the same as another right?
With Razer and Logitech seemingly fairly in control of the higher end of the market, it seems now might be a good time to look at Logitech's latest offering, the G19. Those of you who have been around for a while may remember the G15, which one of the first (if not the first) to feature an LCD screen. It was backlit in orange, featured 6 macro keys (rev. 2) which could be programmed to execute a series of commands at the touch of a button.
The packaging of the G19 is reasonably restrained, with the usual Logitech G series colours and the back devoted to the features. The keyboard was adequately packaged, but I get the feeling a courier would have no problem destroying it.
So now we come on to the G19. It seems Logitech took on board some of the users ideas and have totally redesigned the G19. This keyboard features back-lit keys, in almost any shade, 12 macro keys, media keys, a switch to lock the windows key off during games, a volume control switch and best of all, a 240*320 colour screen.
All of this has a price. While the G15 was a mere £50 or £60, its new big brother is £120. In addition, the USB connection can no longer support the additional power needed by the screen. An additional power supply from the mains is provided, which adds new clutter under your desk.
Perhaps, this would be a good time to say some of the other features. This model has a wrist rest, can act as a powered USB hub with two USB 2.0 slots in built. No audio pass through is included unfortunately.
The G (macro) keys can be programmed on the fly, or using the software. There are also three modes which the keyboard can be put into, which changes the programming of the G keys and changes the backlighting colour to that which you set in the software. Those of you familiar with the G9 mouse will be used to the range of colours available. The backlighting is not overly bright, although it can be turned off entirely it cannot be dimmed, except for picking a darker shade in the software.
Typing has a nice feel, with the keys being nice to touch, with a slightly rubbery coating and making a quiet but effective sounds when hit, which leaves you in no doubt as to whether a key has been hit. The keys are full travel (not laptop style) and are membrane sprung . The keyboard is 49cm long, which is only 5cm longer than a generic OEM keyboard.
Now we look at the screen. It has the same resolution of an iPod classic, is about 2.5" and has a decent backlight, which can be tweaked. It is also full colour, allowing it to watch MP4 movies on your computer on the little screen. (Loading screens aren't nearly as bad with Lord of the Rings on). It can also browse bits of youtube, read RSS feeds (including everybody's favourite reviews site's RSS feeds), all programmable through the software. In addition there are a few in built programs such as the media display, which shows what is playing, allowing easy control of it through the media keys. Other programs include a performance monitor for CPUs, a clock, a picture viewer and additional programs such as Windows sideshow programs.
This enables the user to check email, look at their calendar and browse their windows media player library. Yes it is possible to check your email mid Crysis! (Although it must be your inbox, not in a sub folder).
Some programs also have the addition to display information onto the G19, although so far almost all of these seem to be for the G15, hence are monochrome. Core temp is a nicety, as is Crysis. More programs will support this as time goes on and the user base develop programs.
So we come onto my conclusion. There is one issue I've found, which is that the computer sometimes can't recognise the keyboard, although as it is through a USB hub, the hub may be the issue. Apart from that, I love this keyboard. Now I have the screen, I find it more difficult to use a pc without it. The keyboard is very good, it performs well and is well built, has many features and looks great. The bad news is the price. For this money, you could get two razer keyboards, or a Saitek Eclipse III and a gaming mouse of your choice (except the mamba), but if you have to have the best, this is the one for you.
Overall, 9.5/10 for performance, 6/10 for value and 10/10 for presentation.