Just above the G13’s padded wrist-rest to the right is a small stick like you might find on a joypad, with two large grey buttons for your thumb just beside it. Unfortunately the stick is only a four-way affair rather than the full analog eight-way model you’ll find on a joypad, and thus more limited in its use. This is an even greater shame considering Saitek’s Cyborg Command Unit, which has been on the market for a while now, offers a full analog thumb stick that can even be mapped to act as a mouse.
Since the G13 is otherwise symmetrical, it’s also a pity Logitech did not make the small section with the stick and two thumb-buttons attachable to either side (similarly to the number-pad on Microsoft’s ingenious SideWinder X6 Keyboard), which would have made its G13 the only ambidextrous game keypad on the market aside from the Zboard Fang. It’s worth noting though that if the functionality of this section is not required, the G13 is perfectly comfortable for left-handed use.
Above the wrist-rest is a selection of 22 keyboard-like keys labeled G1 to G22. In the top two rows, four buttons with indents act as the WASD buttons by default. The rest of the buttons are arranged so as to be easily accessible by moving from these or for either thumb or pinky finger. Just above the G-keys are a set of M-keys. The first three of these switch between configurations, while the fourth one (labeled MR) allows you to record keyboard macros and assign them to any G-key in real-time.
At the peripheral’s top we have what differentiates it most from other gamepads: an LCD screen (referred to as a GamePanel by Logitech) with its own set of controls below it. These consist of five small but easy-to-use rubberized buttons. The first, a small round button to the left, acts as a switch between the screen’s various functions. The next four are a set of rectangular context-sensitive buttons below the screen whose functions vary depending on what the GamePanel is displaying.
With the GamePanel set to ‘CountDown Timer’ mode, for example, they allow you to stop/start or reset a pre-configurable stopwatch and countdown. On the ‘RSS Reader’ setting, they let you switch between feeds, call up a summary or open the original article with your browser. Other (non-interactive) functions of the GamePanel LCD include monitoring CPU and RAM usage, a date/clock and new email display and key profiling/scripting. These functions are fully configurable through Logitech LCD Manager, and further ones might be added in the future through software updates.