My very first impression once I took the G11 out of its box was 'Man, this is a big keyboard!' And indeed it is. Coming in at 21.5'' long and 10.25'' wide with the palm rest (8.75'' without) it is much bigger than my Microsoft Internet keyboard, which is 18.5'' long by 8.75'' wide. It also weighs quite a bit more coming in at 3.9 lbs as compared to 2.0 lbs for the Microsoft keyboard. Once I got it on my keyboard shelf, I could tell right away that the G11 is not going to move around on you while in the midst of hot and heavy gaming action, due not only to the extra weight, but also because of the rubber feet on the bottom front of the board.
Depending on the size of your keyboard shelf/area, you may have to make adjustments to fit the keyboard properly. For myself, as an example, I like to have the mouse right next to the keyboard on the right side, and with the G11, that is no longer possible as it takes up all but two inches (one inch on each side) of my keyboard shelf. So, I either get used to it or get another computer desk. I have been wanting a new desk...
The key layout is, in the main, very typical of a 104 key keyboard with a full size 10 number keypad on the right side and the full range of F keys along the top. This is where the similarity to any other keyboard ends. Where normally there would be nothing, we find on the left side of the regular set of keys, three sets of 'G' hotkeys.
18 of them to be exact. These keys are fully programmable to basically do whatever you need/want them to do. By utilizing the included software, you get a program called the 'G-series Keyboard Profiler'. With this program, you can tell the G keys what to do. Directly above these 18 G keys, are four other keys called M1, M2, M3 and MR.
The three numbered M keys allow you to change which mode you are in thus giving you a total of 54 programmable keys to work with. (!!) If that were not enough, the MR Key is very unique. While typing away, or playing a game, you can hit the MR key and it will instantly turn on the Macros Record. Now hit a G key and record your typing from the time you hit the G key till you hit MR again. You've now created a macro totally on the fly and assigned it to a G key. I can see where the gaming community is going to love this feature; even if the keyboard layout is not exactly 'gamer friendly' as you still need to use the WASD keys in their rather awkward scrunched together position; This as opposed to something like the Wolf Claw Gaming board. Even if you are not a gamer, but you are someone who uses any macros at all, you will find this feature will be a huge time saver. I use a macro for when I put up the industry news each day, and I found the macro setup to be quick and easy using the Profiler.
Going from left to right across the top of the keyboard, you will next find a very intriguing switch that has two positions and two icons, one for each position.
The first position icon shows a PC keyboard and monitor and the second icon shows a joystick. To me this says position one is for using the PC and position two is for gaming, but what does the switch do? If you simply move the switch, nothing apparently happens. Now, go to the user guide and see that it tells you that once in the second, 'gaming' position, the Windows key is now disabled. Ah, yet another fun feature for the gamers. How many times have you been in the middle of the action in a game and hit the Windows key instead of the Ctrl or Alt keys and got sent straight to the desktop? Well, with this feature, that is a thing of the past! You will have to remember to actually switch it though for it to work.
Looking now at the center top of the keyboard, you will find the Media keys.
There are five keys here with the option to adjust the volume, fast forward, reverse, play/pause and stop. How cool is this?! Wait a minute, there seems to be a slight issue. They don't work! Not in Windows Media Player, not in WinAmp, ah nuts! Not to worry though, as there is a fix.
Open up regedit and go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\HidServ\Parameters. Once there, right click in the right hand pane and create an Expandable String and name it ServiceDll. Modify the string by right clicking on it and selecting Modify. In the new box that opens up, insert %SystemRoot%\System32\hidserv.dll this will tell the system to use the correct dll for the media keys to work. Now go back to Run and type in services.msc. When that opens up, find HID Input Service, make sure it's set to Automatic and then start the service. Open up WMP or WinAmp and you should be good to go. So far, this is the only flaw that I've found in an otherwise excellent keyboard. The fix that I gave above is one I found on the net from last December. Really now, that is not excusable. Logitech should have had a fix for this issue out last January and for them to still not have one is showing a serious lack in Support on some level. Come on Logitech. This should be an easy fix.
Directly to the right of the Media keys are a Mute button (why isn't this with the other Media keys??) and a button that has an icon of a light bulb on it. That's right folks; this keyboard is backlit with a very cool blue color. The button gives you the options of Off, Dim and Bright. Yet another nice thing about this board is that all of the keys are backlit, including all 18 G keys, the Media keys and the 10 number keypad.
Now let's take a look at the two USB ports and the Cable Channels on the back of the board. I popped in my USB Card Reader into one of the ports and XP, as expected, saw it instantly and set it up in Windows Explorer with the correct name. Seeing as the keyboard is USB only, this is a cool feature as now there are two extra ports available that will take anything USB. You can, if you have one, put your mouse in one of the ports and save a port on the back of your PC. To test out how the Cable Channels work, I did just that. I plugged in my USB mouse into the keyboard USB port on the right hand side, and ran the mouse cable through the provided channel, which directs the cable to the right side of the keyboard. The mouse cable fit snuggly in the channel and is now completely out of the way of any other cables and my big feet. The cable channel on the left side goes across the back of the board toward the right, down to the front, and then swings back to the left a bit before coming out right in the center front of the board. This is a great position if you have a USB headphone, but otherwise, that cable channel doesn't help much. Aside from that, just having the extra USB ports is very handy. With my card reader in one and my mouse in the other, I now have two open ports on the PC itself for other USB peripherals.
Well, that's about it for the keyboard and its layout, so now let's take a quick look at the software. The first thing you see when you install the software is a screen giving you the option to install the Logitech Keyboard Software or one of three Bonus software titles and the ubiquitous Adobe Reader.
The bonus software is 'Ricochet - Lost Worlds', 'GameSpy - Arcade' and 'Roger Wilco'. Let's go straight to the keyboard software: The Logitech G-series Keyboard Profiler. Right after you install the keyboard software, it will give you the option to have it search your system for any games. It immediately found my copy of Unreal Tournament 2004, but it didn't see any of my other games which I attribute to the fact that I have the other games on a different drive and not mapped through the C: drive.
Now that it's found any games you have, it will give you the option in the Current Profile drop down window of using the Default configuration or using whichever Game configuration it found.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the Profiler allows you to set the G keys to basically whatever you need. You can set them up as macros; you can assign a keystroke, or a function or even a shortcut. I set up the Default with the one macro that I use for the industry news by using the MR (Macro Record button) and typing in what I've been using and then assigning it to G button 9. This works absolutely perfectly and has almost no delay when I press it.
Now for games, you have the ability to set up the macro to have a delay, if the action in game calls for it.
Moving on to the Unreal Tournament configuration, as you can see, you have the ability to assign any of the normal macros already associated with Unreal Tournament 2004 to each of the G keys or create your own. This gives you a virtually endless choice of options with 18 keys per mode and 3 modes, or 54 separate keys for each configuration!
I went quite a few rounds of Unreal and also Quake III Arena and Quake 4 and a couple of hours of Painkiller and all in all the keyboard responds very nicely and indeed I was able to set up the macros for the different games with ease. The Profiler software is very easy to use and straightforward. If the software doesn't find your game, you can tell it where the EXE is and go from there, setting up macros and G keys, as you will.
Here are a couple of pictures showing the lighted keyboard at night with all the lights off. First pic shows the backlight on low and the second shows it on high. Now high is not blind-you-with-it's-brightness high, but it is higher by a small bit from the low position and unless you are watching a video, I didn't see the need to turn it off. In fact, over the three days I've been using the G11 to check it out and write this review, I've not turned off the backlight except to watch a DVD.