We've already spent some hands-on time with the G13 gamepad announced last month, but now Logitech has finally unveiled its full CES peripheral lineup with the rest of the new G-series family members. The popular G15 gaming keyboard has been completely revamped in a new G19 model, not only boasting more macro keys (the count is now up to 12 physical keys with 3 modes each) and customization options, but also a full color 320x240 GamePanel LCD display. Logitech also announced a brand new USB gaming headset, the G35. Dolby 7.1 surround-sound technology, noise-cancelling mic, convenient button locations, and voice-morphing software make this the first Logitech headset that we’re actually excited about. The $200 keyboard and $130 headset will be available in March, but we have some hands-on impressions and photos for you right now!
The first thing we noticed was the bright 320x240 LCD screen. In addition to displaying the time, CPU/RAM load, and Voip communication data (features of the G15), this screen can showcase photo slideshows and full-color video streamed from your desktop. And just like the G15, Logitech plans on releasing an SDK for the community to program their own apps for the panel. One proprietary app they showed streamed Youtube clips from various feeds, with on-screen options to navigate through the video site (you control the LCD options with designated buttons on the top left of the keyboard). Video playback was smooth for these relatively low-resolution clips, and Logitech promises that even large video files (like DVD rips) will play without a hitch -- perfect for the workplace, right?
Other features we've come to expect from high end keyboards are also present: adjustable backlit keys, two powered USB ports, 36 total macro shortcuts, a gaming mode to disable the Windows key, and multi-key input functionality (up to five keys depressed at once). $200 is a high price to pay for a keyboard, so thankfully Logitech isn't discontinuing the G15.
Next up, the new G35 Headset
We've never been impressed with Logitech's previous headset solutions. The sound processors built into older USB 'sets were subpar at best, so we were very surprised to find that the G35 produced amazing audiophile-worthy results with the sound samples we tried. Maybe it's because this time, they've partnered with Dolby Labs to utilize second generation Dolby headphone technology -- the same special sauce that's in the new Astro Gaming and Plantronics headsets. Portable 7.1 surround sound may give the G35 an edge against the competition (provided your audio source outputs that many channels), but we were more wowed by the level of comfort provided by the smart design.
The fold-down microphone, for example, is wrapped in bendable rubber and reduces background noise on the fly to record crisp and clear voice commands. The closed-ear design felt extremely comfortable and blocked out any external noise from the room. Placing three macro command keys (ie. for swapping chat rooms in Ventrilo), volume scroll wheel, and mute buttons on the side of the left phone was also a stroke of genius. No more fumbling around with volume controls on a remote along the USB cable!
Like the G19 keyboard, this headset is geared toward the high-end gaming market, with a price to match. Check back for our full review when these products ship in March.