Anyone who has paid attention to what Logitech has provided in keyboards over the years has always had an eye on their boards that come with an LCD screen. I remember when they first came out - even the idea of being able to see what the PC was doing, live right on your keyboard, always seemed like a great concept, even if the LCD technology then wasn't exactly great. As the years went by, many users started developing add on applications to allow things like VOIP servers to show information, AID64 always had an app, as well as just about anything any gamer would think they could possibly need.
The one thing that had been holding back this whole idea with me was that the LCD screens were so limited. You could make bmp, logos and add them, or have information displayed on what looked like a large 1980's wrist watch, but I was looking for something a little more. Well, technology has finally caught up with the designers, and let me say, the capabilities of the screen on the new G series keyboards from Logitech are really top notch. In the age of phones being capable of high definition video playback, it was just a matter of time before the LCD on these keyboards would be something to blow your mind.
Not only are you getting a proven gaming keyboard from a manufacturer that is in every store, and I would guess in almost every home, you are getting all of the perks that come along with the G series from Logitech. The one thing that sets the new Logitech G19s gaming keyboard apart from others in the G series that I have reviewed before is the LCD screen. It's capable of displaying images, playing movies, updating RSS or POP3 email accounts, showing PC usage, and even a pizza timer and stopwatch to make sure your lap times are good and that you don't burn dinner, all at the same time.
If this sort of tech all packed into a keyboard hasn't piqued your interest in the slightest, you better check for a pulse, the Logitech G19s that we are about to see is just that cool.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The specifications given from Logitech are minimal at best. They cover the part number of the G19s, being 920-004985, but I found no issues with searching by its G19s naming. It then moves on to the limited three year warranty and then jumps right into the Windows compatibilities, the fact you need a free Hi-Speed USB port (USB 2.0+), and that you will need access to the Internet to obtain the drivers. On the right side it covers what you will find inside the box, and those are the keyboard, a palm rest, user documentation and the AC power adapter.
What they don't tell you about the G19s is more of the important bits that I think buyers would want to know. Things like that it is made mostly of plastic, and has some accent components made of aluminum, or even the fact that the top of this keyboard is surrounded with metallic blue to dress up the keyboard a bit. They also don't say a word about the rubber dome switches, or the fact that it offers wire management trails under the keyboard. The do not mention that this keyboard offers anti-ghosting with the 6-key rollover. The last thing I think should have been covered besides a mention of the obvious, the 50mm by 38mm LCD screen, is that the G19s also has a pair of pass-through USB 2.0 ports on the back.
What is going to freak a lot of potential buyers out right away is the pricing of the G19s. I know technology isn't cheap, nor is the time you have to pay the programmers to make the LCD screen this functional. Currently it seems that even for the G510 the cost bottoms out to enter the G series at around $100, just to give a bit of perspective before I drop the bomb on you. I see listings at a few locations, as well as the ability to by direct from Logitech, but all of the pricing is set the same to a $199.99 price tag, when stock is ready to ship on May 7.
Already, I know $200 for a rubber dome switch keyboard is going to be hard for many to swallow, but hang tight as we delve deeper into what the G19s offers, before we make any final decisions.
All black is what Logitech colors the exterior of the packaging with. This allows for the naming to pop off the background on the left, and also is a nice backdrop for the split image of the keyboard.
The long thin edge the box was just propped up on has only the naming on one end and an image of the G19s with the screen working and the keys backlit.
Both of the smaller ends of the box look like this in the image above. Just like with all the other panels, you have the manufacturer and keyboard naming, but on the ends there is a QR code box if you want to get more information on this at the point of purchase.
The other long skinny side of the box offers the most information in text form. Between the naming and the sticker that says this isn't for resale, the same information is given that we saw in the specifications chart.
Getting much closer to the packaging, this is the information that was shown in four languages to help cover Logitech's market.
On the back of the packaging, this is where you get introduced to the features of the G19s keyboard. They point out the game mode switch, macro keys, custom colors of the back lighting, and of course the LCD screen at the top of the keyboard.
Cutting a pair of anti-tamper stickers on the side, you can then open the box to see the bold blue used to surround the keyboard inside. As an added layer of protection, Logitech simply surrounds the board with a plastic liner to keep dust and scratches off the various plastic surfaces.
Logitech G19s Gaming Keyboard
Fresh out of the box, there are quite a few things to notice. You get a good assortment of G-keys, there is a large adjustable angle LCD at the top, there is a nice blue surround on the keys, a full set of multimedia keys, and some styling that makes this board look really good at a glance.
On the left side of the keyboard, with white painted accents surrounding the right side of them, Logitech offers 12 G-keys for adding macros to your gaming sessions.
At the top edge of this keyboard you will find the M-keys for the three profiles and the MR-key for on the fly macro recording. There is the Game Mode switch followed by a D-pad, menu key, back button, and settings button for the LCD screen.
Moving further to the right at the top of the keyboard you run into the stylishly shaped LCD screen and its housing. Anything past the edges of the screen blends in nicely with the black behind the clear plastic covering.
Finishing off what is found on the top of the keyboard, we are now running into the right edge. Here we should cover the lighting button that controls both the LCD and the backlighting. As you pass the key lock LEDs, you run into the set of multi-media keys and the volume scroll wheel.
The 74 keys on the left two-thirds of the keyboard covers the F-keys and the QWERTY layout of the keycaps that are hovering over rubber dome switches. You will notice that the WASD keys will be easier to find since their grey color stands out well against the other black keys.
Under the multi-media keys you get the basic set of nine command keys above the G19s name plaque, with grey arrows keys under that. The number pad is the standard layout of 17 keys.
Looking at the G19s from the side, you can see that the front edge of the keyboard is taller than the back of the keyboard, and leaves the key caps falling away from the rows in front of them.
In the back of the keyboard near where the dual cable comes out of the G19s, there are a pair of USB 2.0 ports to plug in your mouse and headset all right here so you have access to them, maybe even a great place to use a thumb drive, so you don't have to reach to the PC.
From the back of the screen, you can see the LCD panel pivots on the aluminum bar, which runs from one side of the keyboard to the other here. With the G in the aluminum badge under the right ALT key, this aluminum carries the idea into a more finished look, and less of just a badge in aluminum.
Logitech G19s Continued
Once you flip the supports out at the back of the keyboard, you do get a bit of a better look at the keys, as far as your fingertips are concerned. Now the keys in successive rows are higher than the previous rows, so along with an ergonomic angle now, you fingers will feel like they reach less in this position.
The two meter, thick rubber cable that came out of the back of the G19s is bundled up in this image. At the ends of this dual cable there is a jack for AC power, along with the USB 2.0 connection, with a tag on it showing to install the drivers prior to connecting the keyboard.
This is the other half of the AC power plug. Here is the US plug ended Nalin power adapter to give the keyboard enough power for the LCD screen as well as helping to power the pair of pass-through USB 2.0 ports on the back.
On the underside of the keyboard you can see that Logitech offers plenty of cable management. There are two ways to enter the trails at the back of the board - they can cross to the center, and then be run through the various trails near the front edge.
At the back of the keyboard, if you wish to increase the angle of the keyboard, you can flip out the plastic feet that offer no rubber padding to grip onto the desk.
The front edge of the keyboard, near where the palm rest is to clip in, you do get a pair of rubber pads to keep the keyboard from sliding around on the desk.
Grabbing the palm rest that was shipped under the keyboard and clipping it into the keyboard shows that it not only clips in, but also has tabs to help support it. There are also three additional rubber pads to keep the keyboard in place since most of the weight will be here anyways.
Stepping back and flipping the G19s back over the correct way, you can see the full length palm rest fits well, is incorporated nicely, and looks as if it were all one piece when put together.
It was now time to power the G19s to have a look at how things worked. I got close up for this image due to the fact that the default blue that the back lighting was set to is very dim and tough to see with all of the photo lights on.
After playing in the software, I realized the lighting was at its maximum brightness, and I swapped over to the red LEDs as it tended to show up much better in the images. You will have full RGB customizability of these lights; I just chose this so it would photograph well.
When the software is installed and loaded up, you are dropped into the home screen. Here the G-keys, M-keys, and the LCD screen flashes to show you can click from here to jump to those programming sections, or you can use the tabs at the bottom.
Under the G-key tab at the bottom you are shown all of those keys up close to start to program them for macros. You can use any of the preprogrammed keys in the list on the left and drag them over to the key you wish to use. There is also a way to set the keys to applications to boot the exe assigned to the key.
The LCD tab allows you to browse through a list of default applications that can be run, and you can download custom ones and they will then show in this list to allow users to turn them on and off from the menu on the keyboards screen.
The lighting tab is pretty self-explanatory, here you can set the three profiles to various colors. You can either spin the wheel at the top, you can use an RGB code with the sliders, or even pick from one of the 22 preset color choices. This set the backlighting of everything on the board, but the M-keys and LCD controls, they remain amber no matter what color is chosen for the other keys.
The tab with an icon of a memory IC is the way that the G series allows users to store and swap profiles for various games. So, basically if you fill the three profiles with various game settings, if you change games, you can go here and drag in the appropriate profile and drop it in the onboard memory of the keyboard.
If you click on the gear at the bottom it will bring up a settings window. Here you can allow or turn off various features, check the software version of the keyboard, and you can also change some settings on how the profile selection works.
If you need some advanced help when trying to set things up, you can click on the "?" icon. Here you can look up just about everything that may be a question you need answered, while trying to figure out how to get images or videos playing on the LCD.
When the G19s is first plugged in, the LCD screen will show the above pair of logos, along with the Logitech name for about three seconds, as the system boots up.
Since the drivers are in prior to booting the keyboard, the first thing that shows up is that same list of applications you saw in the software, just displayed on the screen so that you can use the D-pad and cycle through the options.
One of the basic apps is the clock. It shows an analog clock along with the day and date at the top.
The next option is to run either the countdown timer on the left or you can use the stopwatch on the right. I was able to start and stop both clocks, but when you hit the Menu key to try to configure the clock, a new window appears with options to set the parameters.
The video feed stems from the Videos section of the C drive by default, at the time I took the images, I didn't have any in that folder, but I was able to play episodes of Tron Uprising as well as Big Bang Theory, and they looked really good while playing on the small LCD screen.
There is also an image display app that allows you to search through the Pictures folder on the C drive and I just happened to have this image on the PC at the time. With all of the apps that have a search for something feature, you do have the ability via the software to redirect where the software is to look for that media.
The last of the apps that come on the keyboard is the performance graphs. With the dual-core system I plugged into for images, I get two CPU graphs above the single memory usage bar. As I went to my i7 rig, I only get one CPU graph for all four cores and HT.
Everything about the G19s is better than average on most of the features and outstanding with some. There are a couple, maybe a few reasons, that I wouldn't find myself using this keyboard on a regular basis. After quite a bit of writing on this keyboard, the keys are laborious to use, even compared to my Cherry MX Green switches, it just wasn't very pleasurable to use long term, as a typist first and gamer second. There is just an odd feeling to these keys, and I could almost hear my fingertips cry a little with every keystroke. The second thing I didn't care for was the limited brightness of the backlighting of the keys. When using something like white or light blue, the room has to be pitch black to tell the difference between what appears to be light glowing from under them. The last thing that was sort of a pain was all of the cabling used with the G19s. The thick cable is hard to stay bent and out of the way, and you always need to consider the location of an extra power outlet at your desk to make everything work.
With my personal gripes out of the way, let us now move to the positives. Even if a bit dim, there is a fully customizable backlighting for the keys. There are plenty of G-keys to get you into trouble remembering what they all do. The keyboard offers three profiles, has onboard memory, and via the software, everything is pretty easy to use and figure out with just a few seconds of use. The bottom line with this keyboard is that to get basically the same without the LCD is going to cost you near $100 for a Logitech solution in the same G series. I realize technology is going to cost those who want access to it first, and with the G19s, what it offers including the LCD screen, the pricing is justified at $199.99, even if based on rubber dome switches.
I really do wish that Logitech will take this concept and design one step further, and I would go right out to a store and buy my own with my hard earned cash. Everything about the G19s is so high-end, not only with the basic features and software, but to actually be able to play movies, set timers, tap into YouTube for game tutorials. The only thing missing from this design to sell me on it whole heartedly is if it were to be based off the G710+, and I think in today's market, a mechanical version is justified even if it were to cost a bit more.
I am really torn at the end of all of this. The features like the LCD screen, 6-key rollover, backlighting, multi-media keys, all of it I really like, and the software ease just adds to that. It is just that my fingers are still complaining as I finish this, and I don't think this keyboard will spend much more time on my desk than it already has. I would imagine this is a perfect solution for those with deep pockets who haven't been blessed by mechanical keyboards in the past, but to spend this sort of money, it is almost ludicrous that a $200 keyboard doesn't include them.