Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard (Black) review: Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard (Black)

Logitech's implementation of its custom hot keys is well done, but as with the original model, the true distinguishing feature of the revised G15 is the GamePanel (aka, the 2.5-inch LCD screen on the keyboard's top edge). Logitech now includes a handful of built-in mini apps for the screen, including those for and , as well as Ventrilo, the popular third-party voice-chat program. You can use the game-specific programs to show character data or other useful information. We found the Ventrilo app particularly handy when we joined a pickup group in World of Warcraft. Because the app displays the name of the person talking on the G15's screen, we didn't have to tab out to check.

In addition to the included, ready-made LCD applications, Logitech's efforts toward encouraging community development have paid off. When we reviewed the original G15 in 2006, it was a year after its release, and at that point there was still only a handful of worthwhile, community-developed apps for the LCD. Now you can find all manner of plug-ins available for free download on the G15 Mods and G15 Forums. This enthusiastic development is likely due to time, and is not a specific feature of the new G15 (and all apps will work with both models, provided you have the updated software). Regardless, we're glad to see the community help the G15 achieve its full potential. We should also add that the G15's LCD is Windows SideShow compatible, although Microsoft's own SideShow downloads page only hosts 22 mini apps. Perhaps SideShow needs an incubation period similar to the G15's software development kit.

A few other features changed on the new G15, but the trimmer dimensions and the new LED color are the major highlights. You still get the much-loved "Windows-killer" key, which disables the Vista key so that you don't accidentally switch out to your desktop mid-game. Logitech did tweak the media control keys surrounding the LCD screen, and instead of a touch-sensitive dial you now get dedicated buttons for track and volume control. We don't mind the change, but you may. The underside of the keyboard also has a series of grooves for routing cables more neatly around your desk. The thick cable of the G15 cable itself was too thick to fit in the grooves, but most mouse and headphone cords should be thin enough. Finally, the keys seem to have a better response than the original G15. They're not quite as crisp as the Razer Tarantula, but they're an improvement from the mushy older version.

The "Windows-killer" key prevents you from accidentally switching to the desktop mid-game.

We have two issues with the G15, one more serious than the other. The biggest problem is that it has two USB 1.1 ports. That means less throughput than USB 2.0, which you'll notice particularly in data-transfer speeds of large files from USB flash drives and other external storage devices. The other issue, which is less important, is that unlike other illuminated keyboards, Logitech doesn't offer multiple LED color options. We like the orange, and prefer it to the old blue light, as we said, but it wouldn't be that expensive or difficult to add other choices.

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