We were big fans of Logitech's two-color LCD-equipped G15 gaming keyboard, but we can't say we find that the addition of a color screen justifies the $200 price tag for the updated G19 model. Yes, it's neat to put a full-color image or even a video up on the screen while you're playing a game (imagine watching YouTube clips during a long griffin ride in World of Warcraft, without alt-tabbing out). With time, the G19 user-developed software library might even come to thrive like it did for the G15. But with relatively few color-specific apps available even a few months after its release, we can't recommend spending more than twice the price of the G15 for the G19's color screen and a few design tweaks. Until the software comes around, the G19 is mostly a well-designed, expensive novelty for the PC gaming elite.
Setting aside the screen for a moment, the G19 keyboard itself is only slightly more impressive than the most recent version of the G15. The core key design provides the same crisp keystrokes, with the same 12 "G" keys on the left edge. As with the G15, the G19 gives you three different switchable modes, so you end up with 36 effective customizable keys, along with on-the-fly macro recording. Logitech also includes another hallmark of its G-series keyboards, a switch that lets you disable the dedicated "Windows" key, so you don't accidentally switch to your desktop screen during gameplay with an errant key press.
New to this model (aside from the color LCD) is its capability to recognize five simultaneous key presses. Macro-happy gamers and digital artists, in particular, should appreciate that feature, which opens up a greater level of mastery to run repetitive commands. We're also glad to see that the G19 now has two powered USB 2.0 jacks. The G15 is stuck with USB 1.1, which is not as fast. Anyone who regularly transfers large amounts of data between a PC and a portable storage device or media player will benefit from that added bandwidth.
Other features include a smart drum-style volume control above the G19's number pad, on top of which you'll also find a set of easily accessible media play controls. As before, the G19 ties into iTunes, Windows Media Center, and other media software apps. Last but not least among the new, non-LCD-related highlights is the option to select from 16 million different colors for the backlit keys. You customize the colors through the only-somewhat-intuitive Logitech Profile software, which lets you tie three different colors to the three mode buttons for the programmable "G" keys. We wish it had a dedicated button to scroll through at least a few preset colors, though. We also wish Logitech would consolidate its configuration software into one application. Instead you have to bounce around between the G-series Key Profiler for setting up the G keys, and a separate LCD Manager app for the built-in screen. Which brings us, finally, to the color LCD.