Above the G19’s number pad are media and volume controls. Rather than the flat volume wheel on previous Logitech G-keyboards, the G19 has a roller with a rubberised, finned surface. This does make changing the volume slower than with the previous system, but works well nonetheless. The game switch (which toggles the Windows key on or off) has also been redesigned to be easier to move, and it now lights up when in ‘gaming’ mode.
At the top of the keyboard you’ll find two powered USB 2.0 ports. This is a major improvement on the G15, where the ports were USB 1.1 and not powered. Under the keyboard are channels for routing cables to the front or side, giving a good degree of flexibility.
Together with the multi-coloured backlighting, the G19’s unique selling point is of course its full-colour LCD screen – an industry first. Despite its transparent cover, the high-contrast screen remains sharp and clear. It has excellent viewing angles both horizontally and when viewed from the top (though not from below), and colours are rich without being oversaturated.
Its beauty is more than skin-deep too, as unlike its simplistic two-tone predecessors it’s actually powered by an embedded version of Linux. This allows more applications than ever before to be programmed for it and it’s backwards compatible with most of the ones developed for the G15’s GamePanel.
Though more applications will become available over time, right now the ones offered by Logitech’s LCD Manager software are a timer, RSS Reader, clock with calendar, PC performance monitor, picture viewer, movie viewer (it should play all WMP-compatible videos) and even Video Player for Youtube. This all works flawlessly and is fully configurable through software. Because of its advanced functionality, the screen also has its own set of eight dedicated controls, including a four-way D-pad with an ‘OK’ button at its centre which makes navigation a breeze.
The screen works beautifully for video, with never a hint of artefacts or ghosting, but beyond impressing your friends and after the novelty has worn off, watching this kind of content on it instead of your main display doesn’t hold much appeal. However, the GamePanel certainly does have practical uses, such as keeping an eye on your inbox or IM while gaming or watching a film.