Well, my HP Multimedia Keyboard (which I got for $30 at Wal-Mart several years ago) finally bit the dust when I broke the spacebar trying to put it back in. It was a good keyboard for its price, and will be missed, but time to move on. So which keyboard was the lucky replacement? The Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard, of course.
I'm not much of a gamer, so why the heck would I buy a gaming keyboard? Well, quite simply, this one has a few features that I think will come in useful for a programmer as well(and I saw a deal on it that I couldn't pass up.) So let's get on with the review!
The G110 boasts multicolor backlit keys, 12 programmable G-keys (total of 36 macros), on-the-fly macro recording, a Game Mode switch (to disable the Windows and context menu keys), a built-in USB audio device, multimedia controls, and a USB port.
Backlit keys are extremely useful in low-light conditions. I would have bought the Logitech Illuminated Keyboard if it weren't for its flat laptop-style keys and slightly nonstandard layout. This is one of the features that influenced my decision to purchase.
The keys light up quite well for the most part, although there are a few that don't light up quite perfectly. Oh well, good enough. The available colors range from blue to red (with any combination of purple in between) and the brightness can be adjusted. Switching between backlight colors is accomplished by assigning them to one of the macro sets (M1, M2, M3 keys), and while not particularly intuitive, it does let you easily distinguish between macro sets.
One thing I wish Logitech had done is providing tri-color LEDs. There are only red and blue LEDs in the G110, so I'm limited to red, purple, and blue. Had there been tri-color (RGB) LEDs, it would have been possible to choose any color of the rainbow.
Grr, how I hate those slightly-nonstandard key layouts. I mean the ones with two-row Enter keys, the \ key next to the Shift key, you get the idea. The G110 is one of the few backlit keyboards with a standard key layout in every respect save for the G-keys to the left. I'm actually able to type on this keyboard without thinking, except for those few times that I accidentally press G1 instead of Esc and G6 instead of Ctrl. (Oh well... I can remap them if I so desire.)
These keys are more responsive and less definitive than my HP keyboard, but they're not as slippery. Additionally, it is considerably quieter. Thus, typing is quite enjoyable. I did a speed test and got 98 AWPM (102 WPM with 96% accuracy) without trying particularly hard, so I'd say this is pretty good.
My old keyboard was a PS/2; this one uses a USB interface. Yes, it's about time to move up to the more modern USB standard, but PS/2 is still technically superior in terms of keyboard performance. The keyboard has one USB port on it, which allows me to plug in my wireless mouse's receiver or a flash drive.
I don't have much use for this feature, thanks to my dual sound cards and receiver with a perfectly good headphone output, but I can see it coming in handy for gamers. There is both a microphone jack and a headphone jack, which let you turn any old headset into a USB device. Separate mic mute and headphone mute buttons are available for this.
Size and Shape
The keyboard is slightly bigger than my old one, but it does fit quite nicely on my keyboard tray. It's a bit low even with the feet extended, but it's not that bad and I don't feel any stress on my wrists yet.
And last but not least, software. Macros and settings are (sadly) implemented exclusively through a piece of software called Logitech GamePanel (which includes the Key Profiler). This is separate from SetPoint, thankfully – I'm not a fan of what SetPoint does to my mouse. (It drastically reduces rapid middle-click performance and it affects how the mouse pointer accelerates and moves.) The software is easy enough to use and isn't too obtrusive.
So that just about wraps it up for now. I'm fairly certain that I'll grow to enjoy this keyboard for what it is and that it will last me for at least a few years. While I'm not a gamer, I think I'll find a good use for every single one of those G-keys. And the backlight is already something I'm growing to love.
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