Somehow we missed Logitech's update to its G15 Keyboard last year. It started showing up in our offices recently with a few high-end gaming PCs that spurred us to give it the full review treatment. We're glad we did. The new, £55 model improves on many facets of the original.
If you're familiar with the old G15, the new model is instantly recognisable, but it has a much more streamlined design. Instead of the many angles and beveled edges on the original, the new G15 is all smooth curves and flowing lines. The LCD screen no longer folds down on a hinge, but instead rises up gracefully from the top edge, permanently and prominently displayed.
Logitech also moved from blue LED key backlighting to orange, and it also extended to the orange glow to the LCD screen. We find the orange easier to read in the dark, especially compared with blue on both the old model and the Razer Lycosa.
The other big physical change is the new model's smaller size. Down from 546mm to 495mm wide, the updated G15 lost a belt size or two at the expense of 12 'G-keys', or programmable hot keys. Now instead of 54 possible custom buttons -- among 18 keys in three different modes -- you now get only six G-keys and three different modes, for a total of 18 programmable commands.
We were more than happy to compromise here, both for the reduced size, and also because we could never come up with 54 separate macros to begin with, let alone remember where they were. We're sure some of you might miss having so much flexibility, and if so, you're better off sticking with the original model.
You can use Logitech's software to program macros for specific games, and you can also use the built-in macro record key to set macros while you're playing. Logitech also lets you map custom scripts to the G-keys, and there's even a script editor built into Logitech's software for those of you handy with the Lua programming language.
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 64mm (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 World of Warcraft and Call of Duty 4, as well as Ventrilo, the popular third-party voice-chat program.
In addition to the included, ready-made LCD applications, Logitech's efforts towards encouraging community development have paid off. A year after the original G15's release, 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.