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On the right, you can see the mute button, as well as a button for adjusting the light setting. This is either off, medium or high. It adjusts the level of the LEDs under the keys, and the LCD screen.
The multimedia keys can control most of the popular media players such as Windows Media Player, iTunes and Winamp. The volume control adjust the overall system volume rather than the volume of your media program. That means it will bring down the volume of games as well.
What makes this keyboard truly unique, is the 4in by 1in LCD display. This is 160 by 43 pixels, and can fit up to 26 characters per line. By default, the supplied software will display general system information, new e-mails, the date and the time. CPU utilisation and memory usage was also quite cool and I was impressed that it showed independent utilisation of all four cores in our Kentsfield test rig.
However, there is a whole community of G15 owners, and a full SDK for programming add ons for the LCD screen. A cursory glance bought up visualization plugins, and RSS readers. If your coding is limited, you can even use LCD Studio.
Some games support the G15 natively (while others require patches), and will then display information such as ammo and health on the screen. I personally think this is a little useless, as this is displayed on the screen anyway. I'd sooner be told things I didn't know, such as if someone has sent me an MSN message, or if I have a new e-mail.
One thing I did like, was that you can skip music tracks while in game, and the LCD screen will display the track information on the screen. It's like having an MP3 at your finger tips.
In Linux, the G15 works only as a basic keyboard, but none of the extra functions work as these require the Logitech drivers. However, there is 3rd party software available. I have also heard of success when using the WINE wrapper.
There are two USB 1.1 ports included in the keyboard, for plugging in flash drives and the like. However, because these are 1.1 and not 2.0, speed will be significantly lower and severely limit what you can connect to the ports. This is really the biggest failing on the G15.
Despite my problems typing on this keyboard – which I'm sure is temporary as I've improved a lot already – I do really like it. The ability to switch off the Windows keys is a godsend to any gamer. The multimedia keys are useful, but really shine when in conjunction with the LCD panel, which displays the track and artist.
The plethora of add-ons available will keep you busy, and if you can do some mild programming you'll have fun creating your own. The lack of Linux support is not a huge issue as it's not exactly a gaming OS. However, I believe the appeal of this keyboard extends beyond that of the gamer, as the macros and LCD panel can become very handy for several situations.
At only £44.99, I have absolutely no problems recommending this keyboard, In fact, if it had USB 2.0 ports instead of 1.1, it would have garnered 10/10.
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