Keyboard Madness

I’ve come across many gaming keyboards sporting a range of gimmicks in my profession. Thus far I find the SteelSeries 7g to have that little extra edge in terms of all-round usability. The 7g key action is mechanical, a very sought after feature by die-hard typists. Even though it may be noisy as a result the key response is snappy and feels unquestionably high-quality. The 7g is also well built and, despite a significant weight, manages to keep its size down making it a great choice for a limited space setup. Finally the 7g can easily double as an office keyboard, the key response makes for a great touch-typing experience and I believe the choice to leave out a backlight (or even the impossibility of placing a backlight behind mechanical keys) was a good one. The 7g is for mature gamers who know what key to press.

However, as much as I or anyone else should adore a good, sensible, functional and down-to-business gaming keyboard approach like the SteelSeries 7g there are a number of competing keyboards that, frankly, blow it out of the water in terms of pomp and splendour.

None does this so well as the Logitech G19. The first in the Logitech G series that I have managed to successfully get my paws upon. The G19 is the obvious evolution up from the G15, replacing the boring texty LCD with a full-colour affair on which you can, if the fancy takes you, even play video content from your computer or directly from Youtube.

The point of such an LCD on a keyboard is almost entirely lost upon me, but holy crap is it cool! The one use I can find for it in my gaming world (or at least my world as it was before I quit WoW) would be watching World of Warcraft boss-fight tutorial videos whilst keeping WoW full screen. Of course, I could always run WoW in windowed mode and do the same, a 24″, 1080p monitor (any gamer interested in the G19 who hasn’t already got a 24″ LCD or bigger has their priorities messed up), but why shouldn’t one be able to enjoy a full-screen immersive game and keep those videos confined to the tiny LCD on a keyboard?

Well, there’s no reason! If you’ve got between £130-£150 to blow on a Logitech G19 and like the look of it, then go for it. There are not going to be any buyers remorse problems here, your eye-catching, attention-grabbing behemoth will waste plenty of time itself. For example, I spent not an entirely small amount of time trying to find the perfect backlight colours, alas the particular neon-green I was looking for (a brighter version of the Gadgetoid background) didn’t seem to exist so I opted for a hot-pink instead. It’s a shame, really, any attempt to obtain a brighter, more obnoxious colour from the backlight seems to result in it becoming white. There are three “shift states” on the G19, all of which can be assigned their own backlight colour. As I’ve no intention whatsoever to use hot-keys I can switch between colours as the fancy takes me.

One of the only downsides I can find thus far, aside from the sloppy-compared-to-the-7g key action is that the build quality for the G19 isn’t quite on a par with its price tag. This is probably because the LCD inclusion hiked the price up without a corresponding increase in quality. I know Logitech are capable of quality, because their diNovo Notebook keyboard (which I’m also looking at) is hefty and solid despite it’s compact size.

At £150 (RRP) I expect there to be a significant amount of metal involved in the construction of parts that look like they’re metal but are, in fact, not. The bar to which the LCD is attached, for example, is a naff, two-piece moulded plastic affair.

The G19 also brags being able to handle 5-key presses simultaneously whereas SteelSeries have stuck to the lofty claim that the 7g can handle as many simultaneous key presses as there are keys on the keyboard and actually requires a PS2 connection (USB adaptor supplied) to support this. So the G19 may be pretty, and insanely cool but, perhaps, the things that really matter in gaming keyboards are a little compromised.

What irks me above all else, however, is that the G19 require a separate mains adaptor to power the LCD and USB hub… ouch! Wouldn’t two USB connections have sufficed?

A full review of the G19 will come soon, but if you’re eyeing it up, have the cash, already have a 24″ LCD to game on, and have the desk space for this monster then I’m not going to stop you.

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