After you take it out of the box you immediately notice the nice shape and the interesting combination between a smaller keyboard and mouse pad. The part that is designed for hand rest is large enough even for big hands and made of a very firm, but still comfortable material that ensures an ergonomic position for your hand in order to avoid any kind of injury that might appear because of computer overuse.
This device is not meant to replace the keyboard or the mouse of your computer, but rather to be used for gaming purposes only. Certain gamers have actually complained that they can't use their computer keyboard properly when playing certain interactive online computer games and it looks like somebody has listened to them. They are the main target for this gameborad. The size makes it more useful than a regular computer keyboard, but still needs a lot of space on your desk. In order to combine both the keyboard and the mouse, this Logitech G13 mouse or gameboard as it is called also has a mini joystick incorporate on the right side.
It has only 22 keys and it does look like a keyboard cut in two, with a handle to it, but it has an amazing LCD display that actually helps you during the game and not only, as you can see a lot of things on it: RSS feed, music Xfire, CPU/RAM usage, time and date and even a stopwatch or the details of your game character. You have the possibility to choose the colour of the backlight for your LCD display and the back of the keys. These 25 buttons are a bit larger and more solid than the ones in a regular keyboard, and they are all arranged around four main buttons that replace the keys WASD on your computer keyboard. They have a little round ditch in the middle so that you can recognize them when you touch them. You know these keys are used mainly in RPG and action games, so it was natural to use them. They have a different name, but their function is the same. Actually all the 22 G keys are programmed by default with certain functions, but you have the option to reprogramme them according to your wish. Between the keys and the display there are four buttons used to operate the things you will see on the display.
The overall aspect is solid and reassuring, giving you a feeling of confidence and of job well done. Not to mention the ergonomic aspect which is quite important these days.
This device can be plugged in a USB port in your computer. But if you want it to work properly and to be able to programme all the functions on your buttons and the things displyed on the LCD you will have to install a compatible software on your computer. Usually the box containing the Logitech G13 mouse/gameboard comes with a software CD in , but it is better to download the latest version of the software from the Logitech official web site.
This device is pretty different from anything I have used and there are a lot of people like me. So, with all those buttons and functions, things displayed and lights and a mini joystick, you might feel a little lost at the beginning when you stay in front of it. But if you have played online games before, you will get used to it in a matter of days. The most difficult part is to remember exactly what is the function of each button, but you can learn this in time. It is important to mention that it is still comfortable after many hours of gaming and does not cause any repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome or any other kind of illness affecting your hand and fingers. Quite the opposite, I may say.
Of course nothing and nobody is perfect , so this gameboard could be improved in the future (for example the lower buttons are a bit difficult to get to), but for now it is ok. It is not very easy to use for non-gamers, but the people it was meant for can learn rather quickly how to work it with the help of a quick-start guide. From the point of viwe of the design and the special features that can be used by a gamer, this device is priceless. It beats all the other devices you can find to help you improve your game performances. This does not work only as a more advanced keyboard. it is not used only as key strokes and macros, but it also allows you to choose between programmes, open files or perform other operations that are more or less complicated. It is very complex in function and quite unique in purpose and design.
The price is a bit high ($75-85), but all unique things are rather expensive if you think about it. I think it is wirth the money if you consider that it really helped you make the game even funnier and more pleasant than usual.