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Logitech G13 Gamepad Review

The G13 is what Logitech refers to as a “gameboard”, and it’s essentially the left-side chunk of a normal computer keyboard, except that it’s tweaked to make it more gamer-friendly. The first major difference is that the G13’s keys do not have letters, only numbers – the keys are numbered G1 to G22, and each key is a programmable macro key. The keys around the middle (which would ordinarily be used as the W, A, S, and D keys) are contoured inward a bit, so that you can easily position your hand without looking. There is a total of four rows of keys, covering the equivalent of all 3 letter rows plus the “ctrl, alt, spacebar” row – that means, however, that there is now equivalent to the “number” row, so you’ll have to come up with new locations for those keys, as well as tilde, if you use them.

Instead of your left thumb resting on the spacebar, Logitech has placed a small joystick and two “clicky” (mouse-like) buttons, which by default emulate W, A, S, and D – so that it’s more like a console controller if you want it to be. The joystick also pushes down and clicks like a console analog stick. Unfortunately neither of the clicky buttons are very comfortable to use as a spacebar replacement, so I found myself having to relocate the space key to the bottom-right-most key. The same goes for the ctrl key – there’s no key located where that key naturally goes, so it had to be slightly relocated.

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The ergonomics of the G13 are good. If you consider for a moment the way your hand sits when you’re using a mouse, you’ll notice that it’s basically like laying your hand on a small section of a large sphere; very slightly curved and rounded – but your keyboard is flat – not very ergonomic at all. The G13 is shaped like a mouse is, and although it feels strange at first, it’s much more comfortable than the angle of a keyboard. It’s also got a large rubberized grip on the lower portion which adds to how comfortable the G13 is. Another advantage is due to the fact that the G13 is just a small portion of a full keyboard, it’s not huge and wide, and therefore can be angled however is most comfortable, without blocking anything.

The G13 has an LCD screen on it, much like that on Logitech’s gaming line of keyboards. In fact, it uses the exact same software and drivers, which is a huge plus because there’s a decent community backing for the G15 LCD, and all of the third-party apps and drivers work on the G13 just fine – for example, there’s a Trillian plugin which, when I’m in a game (fullscreen, obviously), displays my IM window on the LCD screen, so that I don’t have to minimize the game to see who wants what. Additionally, the LCD has 4 small buttons below it which interact with it – so I can choose to reply to the IM without minimizing the game as well – a very handy feature. Other apps for the LCD include performance monitors, timers, multimedia playback, and more. Fraps, for example, shows your current frames per second and a graph with recent readings as well, keeping your main display clean. There’s one round button to the left of the LCD which switched between apps, and one on the right which toggles the backlight on or off.

Speaking of backlight, each key on the G13 is backlit, much like the keys of a Saitek Eclipse or Logitech G15 keyboard. Obviously the LCD is backlit as well – but the nice feature about the backlighting is that using the included software, you can choose the exact color you want, to match it to your other components. I don’t mean you can choose “red”, “blue”, “green”, I mean you can enter a hex code for an EXACT color, and it will display it. Very impressive in that aspect. Another use of the variable lighting is if you have multiple key presets, you can assign a color to each one, so that you never doubt which preset you’re using.

If you already have a Logitech G15, I can’t recommend that you buy this device, because it won’t be bringing any new features to the table, but if you’re looking to add-on to a keyboard you already have and are happy with, the G13 is perfect. The other advantage over virtually any normal keyboard is that you can hold down literally 20 keys at a time on the G13, whereas most keyboards allow just 2 or 3 max, and when you’re crouching, walking forward, and checking scores and you need to jump, 3 might not be enough. That being said, it’s hard to say that anyone would really NEED the G13, it’s more of one of those peripherals that you never realized how much you needed it until you have it.