When I first got my computer, I started out with a Microsoft PS/2 keyboard, a generic black thing that was comfortable enough to live with. Of course, I wanted something better and more gaming-orientated. I don’t like the keyboards retailers offer these days, and sadly couldn’t afford any of the better ones on the market. I lusted after Razers and Logitechs, played with a nice Saitek Eclipse and even got to try out a Microsoft Curve, but nothing was within my budget.
My oldie but goodie today is the Logitech G11. I found this one quite by accident while browsing through Cash Crusaders. It was still in its box with original packaging, and the CD hadn’t even been opened. When it was new it could easily fetch about R900, which compares favourably to the G15, the same keyboard with a colour LCD screen mounted on top. I looked at the price tag and couldn’t believe my eyes: R145, VAT included.
For the best part of a week I waited until I had money for the thing, praying that no-one would find it. Cash Crusaders doesn’t normally hire gamers to work there, so no-one had any clue of its true value. The G11 series was best remembered for its comfortable key layout and the fact that it was cheaper and had better illumination than the similarly-priced Thermaltake Challenger and Razer Lycosa keyboards. It couldn’t stand up to the feel of mechanical keys, but had better durability than the G15 – the keys are not painted, and thus should last a very long time.
The biggest benefit of the G11 are the extra keys and buttons Logitech designed around the standard 104-key layout. To the left are the G-keys: 18 separate programmable macro keys, each with three macro functions each for a total of 54 possible saved functions underneath three function select keys and a macro record button. Macros are especially useful for RPGs and games where repetitive keystrokes are needed (Street Fighter would be a cinch here for combat) and for programmers and graphical designers/architects, where repeating certain actions is part of their work. I tested this myself and although I don’t use it very often, the mMacro mode really works, with pauses between keystrokes. If you need to open up Firefox, create three new tabs and navigate to your three favourite pages, open up your e-mail and start playing some music while you get your coffee, it can do that for you.
Another feature not seen on other keyboards is the slider button to disable the Windows key. This works very well in games that automatically Alt+Tab out of a game when you press the Windows key, so this is a huge relief. Also useful is the centered media controls which work automatically with Windows Media Player. The volume control in the middle is for the main system volume, and can be turned down all the way to zero. The control is friction-free and can be freely turned any number of rotations, so breaking it won’t be a problem.
And lastly, the two features that make it stand out more for me is the attention to detail Logitech have gotten down here. There’s a big mute button for those times when you need a quiet for only a few moments, a switch to turn the backlighting off or on to the two brightness settings and underneath the keyboard there have been cable routes dug out the bottom of the try for headphone and mouse cables, all to neaten up your desk.
Truly then, this was the bargain of the century. I’m glad I didn’t waste my savings on a G15! Next time I visit the Cash Crusaders store, I’m going to bag myself that Apple 23” Cinema display!