If you ask a gun enthusiast why he needs that M4 SOPMOD to hunt squirrel, you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not that the average squirrel in the Adirondacks is on PCP and likely to require two magazines to put down; it’s that the M4 SOPMOD is a fine and uniquely crafted weapon regardless of whether it ever sees action worthy of its true potential. So, please, don’t ask us why you’d want to spend $200 on a keyboard with up to 36 macros available across 12 programmable macro keys (recordable on the fly from the keyboard itself), customizable keyboard backlighting, and even a 320x240 color display. If you’re a gamer, understand that you’re buying more power than you may ever need, but absolutely should have.
The key action is cush and quiet (preferred by most gamers and characteristic of Logitech’s boards), and the plastic is smooth yet never slippery beneath sweaty digits. The keyboard itself includes a hardware switch to disable the Windows key, and both macro and function keys are slightly elevated for easier nailing. We appreciate the slightly larger than usual Mute button below the media control keys to the upper right, and love the barrel-style volume control (if only it were reprogrammable for use as a scrubber or dial).
The G19 keyboard is sweet, but it ain't cheap.
The 2.5-inch tiltable LCD is surprisingly crisp and bright—certainly good enough for movies and recorded TV and whatever else you’ve got in your My Videos folder. The bundled applications for the LCD (including an image viewer, RSS feed and POP3 displays, and CPU utilization monitor) work right out of the box and—unlike your second monitor—independently from the OS. They’re also navigable from the keyboard itself, so you don’t have to Alt-Tab out of a game to fast-forward through a TV show or read the story behind a headline, for instance. Of course, games may also use the auxiliary display (and the ones that do, do so automatically—nice), but this support must be provided by the developer, and the list of games remains fairly modest. Sure, it’s easy to think of the display as a superfluous and expensive feature, but once you’ve passed a few moments during a long jaunt or loading screen by reading email or watching YouTube, a keyboard without an auxiliary screen seems like a pet with one eye; still lovable, but a bit sad.
So much attention was paid to detail (macros, for example, can record up to five simultaneous key presses, and the keyboard still works if you don’t plug in the power adapter for the display) that it’s strange that the G19 lacks adjustable risers, or headphone/mic jacks next to the dual USB 2.0 ports. But those are annoying but manageable deficits in an otherwise precise and beautifully executed slab of overkill.