Review: Logitech G19 Keyboard

Whether you spend your days hunched over a desk pounding out verbiage or prancing through Khaz Modan in search of Monkey Gauntlets , the tool you wield can make all the difference.

Sadly, the science of keyboard design seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years. Aside from vaporish blowhards like the Optimus Maximus, most of today’s keyboards are essentially thin slabs of spongy key meat riding low on the totem pole of the peripheral hierarchy.

The G19 is one of those rare exceptions: A hulking retro-licious beast of a board that’ll satisfy WoW adherents and desk jockeys alike … for a price.

As the successor to Logitech’s G11 and G15 , this huge hunk of plastic comes with gaming hardget-gadget in its DNA. Like its relatives, it has a blocky aesthetic that harkens back to the days of the Model M. There are, however, a handful of very modern flourishes that make this latest G-board a distinctly modern marvel.

One of the returning features is the popular “G-Key,” which can be programmed to send any combination of keystrokes you want. This time around, there are three sets of programmable keys laid out vertically in 2 x 2 grids along the left side of the board (twice as many as the current G15). And with three settings per key, that means you’ll get an extra 36 individual key presses or complex macros.

But let’s not kid ourselves: The big selling point here (and the reason for the G19’s two-hundred dollar price tag) is the swiveling, full-color LCD planted firmly in the center of board. This screen not only allows you to display in-game information for more than 60 titles, you can use various applets to view YouTube, VoIP, IMs, and, yes, even Twitter.

While we had trouble playing back some video formats, overall we were impressed with the way the 320 x 240 screen handled video with no ghosting and exceptionally smooth frames. Although it’s too small for any serious video gazing, it’s still a great tool for dedicated tasks like IMing.

Flashy features aside, the G19 also happens to be a fairly decent keyboard. We quickly fell in love with the clackity-clack sounds the keyboard made, which somehow added the pleasant illusion we were actually being productive (and not simply not Twittering about having a ghost writer…on Twitter).

In the end, the G19’s main drawback is the same one that has plagued fancy keyboards since the days of yore: it’s freaking huge. That swiveling LCD? It actually requires a tiny onboard Linux computer to run, which in turn requires its own power source. Should you choose to make use of the two self-powered USB ports, you’ll potentially have more wires shooting out this thing than your computer.

As such, the G19 is probably overkill for those with a simple case of fingerrhea. At its current price, it might even scare off gamers who could legitimately make use of it robust feature set. Still, if you’re G-board fan and have a couple of C-notes to spare, the G19 will be a welcome addition to those midnight raids. Excelsior!

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