Logitech G13 Review
Here we have the Logitech G13 Advanced Gameboard; part of Logitech’s Gaming series of peripherals.
So what exactly is an Advanced Gameboard then?
Well it’s a kind of a hybrid between a keyboard and a joystick with the addition in this case, of an LCD display and backlit programmable keys! – It is not meant to replace your keyboard for typing but is designed to allow access to more keys easily whilst gaming.
Aimed primarily at MMORPG players who require extensive keys (spells etc.) to hand; it also has profiles for your good old fashion First Person Shooters too. At the time of writing the G13 is retailing at approx £70.00.
courtesy of Logitech
With a GamePanel™ LCD, 25 programmable keys, and a naturally-contoured design, this gameboard gives you game-changing comfort and control.
|High-visibility GamePanel™ LCD
You’ve got easy access to tactical information, including live stats, system info, and communications from your fellow players. Learn more about GamePanel.
|25 programmable keys
You can customize keys to suit your style of play—and even assign complex actions to single keystrokes on the fly.*
You can customize the keys with any backlight colour that you want. Easily locate the right key in low-light conditions or lights-out play.
The control you need is under your thumb so you can maneuver quickly and easily.
|Public software development kit (SDK)
You can upload the latest enhancements developed exclusively for GamePanel™ by the Logitech open-source community.
|Naturally contoured design
It follows the natural shape of your hand and fingers for increased comfort during long sessions
|Large, concave buttons
You can locate buttons by touch on the home row.
|Solid, stable design
Your gameboard will keep up when your game gets intense. Strategically placed feet. Stable weight (650 grams).
It saves your profiles so you can take your personal preferences with you.
This portable gameboard keeps the game going wherever you go.
First impressions of the Logitech G13 are that it is very different to your average keyboard; it really does look like a hybrid between a keyboard and joystick.
It is very solidly made, it has a hefty weight to it which should keep it sturdy during those frantic gaming sessions and it’s made of good quality materials.
As a gamer probably the most important item in your arsenal is the ‘Human Interface Device’ – yes for most us that means a keyboard and mouse. (Except for those console users out there that are stuck with the inferior but more sofa friendly joypads!)
Recently more and more exotic custom gaming devices have been launched to try and improve upon what really was not designed to be used for Gaming.
We have seen mice with extra buttons; which can emulate key-press’s, keyboards with butterfly style keys (like the Steelseries/Merc Stealth James and Terry swear by), even ones with custom key layouts for each game (Z Board), and my personal favourite the WolfClaw II which has an exaggerated WASD key layout to the left of a normal keyboard that fits ‘around’ your hand (not that dissimilar to the Steelseries Stealth).
Each design has its limitations and often there is a big learning curve to make the switch between devices; so often gamers stick with what they know and are often afraid to even try to make a switch! (Well I did and I’ve been using the WolfClaw II for a long time!)
So will my fears be realised or is it all in my head? – Time to find out!
Here is a quick view of the different keyboards on my desk as a comparison: (Logitech G13 Left and Wolfclaw Right)
Plugging the G13 into a spare USB port installation was painless with all the software installed from the supplied disc.
At the end of the install it ran a quick scan of your hard drives for any installed games, so that the correct profiles are all pre-loaded for you.
Once installed you are presented with a very nice looking interface:
Here you can see the default layout for the Battlefield Bad Company 2 profile:
Our current favourite game here at pcGameware is Battlefield Bad Company 2 and I have also been lucky enough to get to play the Battlefield 3 Alpha and this presented me with a perfect opportunity to test the G13’s programmable keys; as at this early Alpha stage of development, they had not included the usual in-game key re-mapping features – so I was stuck with the default layout – arrrgh!
My Percuilar setup!
The default key layout was causing me all sorts of problems with my existing non programmable keyboard – as over the years I have adopted my own strange key preferences (I guess most of us do!), using the ‘Q’ key to the left of the ‘W’ (forward key) as Run (rather than the normal Shift) and the ‘E’ key to the right as Knife. For me these keys represent the forward moving action that both Running and Knifing represent and replace the normal keys that normally just allow you to lean left or right (which are never that useful in most FPS).
So this was to be my first challenge, to see if I could use the programmable features to mimic the key layout that I have been accustomed to.
This turned out to be a simple case of copying the BFBC2 profile, renaming it to Battlefield 3 and then manually selecting it once in game (as there is no BF3 auto detection profile yet!). Once in I was able to make my own custom modifications by using the ‘on the fly’ programmability, which is great: You hit the MR key, followed by the G key you wish to program then follow the instructions on the LCD, hit the key(s) you want it to simulate – it’s that easy.
So I went in and changed the ‘Q’ and ‘E’ keys to just the way I like and I was off!
So now I had my keys set-up just how I like this made the whole world of difference to my game-play; before it was so frustrating as I just could not use the default layout (something I proved up against Fatal1ty Wendel in our recent Counter-Strike show down at the London ASRock event lol).
After a few games I was well at home with the new board and even managed to get some good rounds in (not that unusual honest!), thanks mainly to being able to fully customise it to my own preference.
The only downside seems to be that there is not a row of keys above the WSAD layout whereas on a normal keyboard you would have two rows; first the Number row and then above that the Function keys. Many FPS games utilise these two rows, the Number keys for quick weapon selection and sometimes the Function keys for quick view changes and this was something I was missing a little as although there are plenty of keys available to the left or right of the WSAD layout on the G13 I was having a bit of trouble adapting.
As you can see in my comparison shot above I was able to adjust the backlit keys and LCD to match my current desk colour (yes my desk can change colour ;). Whilst this is nice to have and adds to the wow factor, it is not so overpoweringly bright, as to affect your game play.
So probably one of the best features of this Gameboard is the inclusion of Logitech’s LCD display; usually found in the top end keyboards like the G15 & G19, even though this has been around for a while now with good support (probably due to its open source framework); I hadn’t realised quite how useful it could be.
A good example of what is possible with the display can be seen whilst playing Battlefield Bad Company 2.
Here we can see an example of the display being directly updated by the game itself; so for instance when launching BFBC2 you get a nice splash screen, then when going into a new map essential details are shown including the server name, map details, number of users and your current ping. Then once into a level you get stats pages giving you a reminder of the next unlocks you should be aiming for. Excellent!
So within minutes I was up and running with the new board, it took only a few more whilst in-game to reprogram it ‘on the fly’ just as I like, without once having to refer to the manual!
After a few games I was at home with the new board which is a great achievement.
The LCD is a great addition, able to give information which would normally not be available unless you had two screens or were to alt-tab back to Windows. (Not advisable mid game)
At approx £70 the Logitech G13 is expensive (better street prices do exist though, if you shop around), but it is also very good and you know what they say…
The only thing that seems to be missing here are the row(s) of keys above the WASD layout – Maybe MMROPG players don’t use these? But for me (as an FPS player) that was the biggest stumbling block, otherwise the Logitech G13 may have just scored a perfect 10.