Design Features and SoftwareDesign and Features – A Close Look at the G13
The G13 looks like a forgotten prop from a Sci-Fi movie. It’s about eight inches wide and a foot long, and consists of a padded lower handrest and large upper section that contains 22 keys. Above that are glossy black macro and function keys along with a LCD display.
There is little color to the G13, as most of the device is either matte of glossy black, the only exception being a gunmetal Logitech logo insert at the base of the palmrest. Despite this, the G13 remains visually interesting through the use of different textures – the top is glossy, the middle is matte, and the palmrest has a subtle texture.
Ergonomically, the G13 tries to accommodate the natural curve of the hand by placing a hump in the lower-mid area of the device. The highest point of the peripheral is the section where the palmrest meets the first row of three keys. I can see why this might be comfortable in theory, because a hand placed on a flat keyboard tends to arch in the middle, and it seems reasonable that some support might be helpful. In practice, however, I’m not sure that this design provides any real benefit. The palmrest itself is a better story. The rubber has some cushion to it, but the texture keeps your hand planted.
While there are many buttons available, the placement is questionable. The thumbstick, which is located on the lower right hand side of the device (sorry, lefties – this is another peripheral that doesn’t cater to you) feels too far away from my hand. Indeed, the thumb-button real estate seems largely wasted, as there are only two inconveniently placed buttons just below the thumbstick itself. Meanwhile, a large hunk of plastic sits above the thumbstick, devoid of any inputs.
While the buttons and thumbstick embody the G13’s functionality, the device also comes with a small but slick LCD display. While not capable of color, it shines with a pleasant blue-white tone and is able to work with a number of apps, including those shipped with the device and those created by independent programs (the Logitech forums are good place to search for new apps for a Logitech device with an LCD display).
The default selection includes a Windows SideShow media app, an LCD clock, a performance monitor, a countdown timer, a media display that shows the name and length of any audio or video clip you play, and a RSS reader. The display can also work with various games, and support for some games is built-in.
Although the G13 does ship with recommend bindings for a few popular games, you’ll likely want to customize the functionality of the device’s keys significantly. Macro functionality is a one of the reasons why this type of peripheral seems attractive.
Macro functions are usually limited by the software that make them possible, however. No one wants to spend half an hour setting up a controller for use with a game. Fortunately, the G-series Key Profiler software that ships with the G13 is excellent. Binding a G-key to any specific function takes just ten or twenty seconds, and you can configure a complex set of custom bindings within five minutes. Once you have a set of bindings configured how you would like, you can simply save the configuration as a profile which can be loaded up or altered later.
The physical Macro keys also enhance the G13’s flexibility. There are three macro keys, each of which can be loaded with its own set of key bindings. As if that weren’t enough, the G13 also includes a quick-macro button that lets you bind keys on-the-fly. Simply press the Quick Marco button, press a key on the G13, press a key on your keyboard, and then press the Quick Macro button again. Instant macro!