The LCD screen was without a doubt the single feature that made the original G15 such a popular keyboard for Logitech, with countless scores of gamers getting sucked in by the cool idea of having system info and other bits and bobs displayed on a second screen while they gamed.
Unfortunately though, actually using the LCD screen revealed it to really be little more than a gimmick and, while seeing how many emails you had while your game loaded sounded like a good idea, it was of little practical use. A small community has endeavoured to keep support going by developing custom apps, but outside of a few very specific examples the G15 LCD was useless for anything of any real note.
That hasn’t stopped Logitech though, with the G19 showcasing a new LCD screen that’s bigger, brighter, theoretically much more useful and it's in colour, too. Gone are the days of looking at a pixellated, monochromatic clock as you wait for the game to load – now you can look at a shiny, colourful clock instead!
In fact, thanks to the fancy new programs that come included with the G19, you won’t just be watching the usual clock and system monitor either – you can scan headlines from your favourite websites using RSS or even watch YouTube videos. The small D-pad and menu buttons let you control what’s on the screen and if you find it all a bit distracting then you can easily shut it down by hitting the brightness key.
The G19 software lets you assign complex macros or set backlighting profiles
The actual usefulness of all this is all a bit suspect though, if you ask us. Watching YouTube on a 5cm by 4cm screen (with the full keyboard being a gargantuan 50cm x 27cm) may sound good, but it’s not really of any practical use – especially when you can only easily watch the Most Popular videos and you realise that the D-pad is so fiddly to use. The RSS feed is a much better addition, but still by no means essential (or even that desirable, given the cost).
It’s worth mentioning that we had a fair bit of trouble setting up the software for the G15 too, with the LCD screen occasionally deciding only to display the Logitech logo when we turned the PC on. A quick reboot usually solved the problem, but it’s still not something you’d want to put up with on a regular basis – which is why we went back to our standard keyboard after the review.
Nor was that the only problem we had with the G19 either. One of the other downsides of the colour LCD screen is the need for a power supply – but the G19 we came with a US 2-pin plug, not a British or even a European plug and, since the plug is part of a breakaway cable with a special fitting, it can’t be easily replaced.
The new media key layout includes a modified volume wheel above the NumPad
The power cable also ended up causing some damage to the G19 casing too and when the cable twisted at the point where it joins the keyboard the casing was easily forced apart and the shell opened up around the two USB ports. It wasn’t anything that we weren’t easily able to fix by just squeezing it firmly every time it happened, but it doesn’t bode well for the G19’s overall build quality and really we’d hope for more given that this is a keyboard which costs more than £100!
The price is really where the G19 falls down the hardest though, regardless of whether you take the other faults into account. It’s simply a ludicrous amount to pay for a keyboard, let alone one which isn’t fundamentally different from previous, cheaper designs. The G19 is wonderfully comfortable to use and it look excellent too – but there are plenty of other keyboards that can make that claim too.
The only thing that the G19 has that nobody else does is the LCD screen then and, while being able to scan RSS feeds and have image slideshows on your keyboard is kind of cool, it’s not something that anyone actually needs – nor something that we’d pay over £100 for. We’d much rather just ALT-TAB out of our game for five seconds if we needed to watch YouTube videos that desperately and the effort that has gone into adding the new LCD screen would have been much better spent improving the overall sturdiness of the G19 and adding in a headphone jack.