I’ll start by underlining that this article is being typed on a Logitech G15 keyboard. I’ve been using a wide array of Logitech peripherals throughout the years and I consider myself one of their loyal customers. My G15 is paired with a G5 mouse and an F510 gamepad, all from the same company. I own another two G15s, and, of course, the Logitech G510, to which this article is dedicated.
To be absolutely clear from the beginning: my G510 wasn’t defective. The purpose of this article is to outline the marketing & design mistakes made by Logitech, which resulted in this keyboard being such a disappointment. I admit that, at least partially, my anger on this product stems from the fact that Logitech is a company I sympathize.
Why do I have three G15 keyboards? Quite simply: I’m addicted to this model. I don’t want to type on anything else. So back in 2007, I bought an extra one for the office. I’m not using even half of its 18 shortcut keys, but I still want to have them there, just in case. This is something I admit I’m weird about, but it’s just the way it is.
The third G15 got in the picture because of the G510 disappointment. And it all started with…
The “Enter” Key Debacle
My home G15 started having issues with its back-lighting after about 4 years of usage. It’s not an essential feature for a touch-typist, but I sometimes appreciated it. Also, like most G15 owners, I was confronted with severe key painting degradation. However, I definitely don’t think that this is enough of a reason to warrant the G15’s place in this list of shame^ (at number 12). Its awesome volume wheel, the programmable LCD coming with lots of useful plugins and the extra 18 keys coupled with one of the best drivers I ever used, make the G15 my all time favorite keyboard.
So, when it started breaking down, of course, I began to look for alternatives. This was not as easy as it sounds. The newer G15 version had way fewer buttons (6) and the new “best” model, the G19, also had fewer buttons (12), plus, it was way too expensive and had a color LCD, which I still believe is complete overkill. For a while, I just couldn’t find anything similar in Logitech’s offering. I was very frustrated.
The old G15, with its 18 extra keys, was a keyboard which opened a lot of roads for Logitech. It was their champion, attracting a lot of gamers on their side, even though personally, I hardly used it for gaming. But for about three years, Logitech had no keyboard with similar specifications.
Eventually, as the months and years passed, I began to lose hope that I’ll ever find a suitable replacement. Then, all of the sudden, Logitech came up with the G510, about which I read the first time on Tom’s Hardware^. Finally, the G15 had a newer version! The same 18 keys, the same monochrome LCD. And probably with all the issues of the old G15 ironed out! Yay!
I wanted to buy it from Sweden but, unfortunately, they only sell it with a Swedish layout over here. After some searching, I decided to buy it from Romania, with the English layout I always go for. But during my initial purchasing investigations, guess what I found out: there were actually 2 models of English G510 out there! One with a big Enter key and another with a smaller Enter key. I’m an adept of the latter. Here’s the difference:
I strongly dislike the “large Enter version” because they moved the Backslash near the Z key. I typed on such keyboards and it’s a very uncomfortable experience. But this is personal preference and you may think otherwise. But it’s OK. You just buy the keyboard you like, right? Well, as Logitech would have it, it’s not so easy to do that.
I asked a friend to bring over a G510 from Bucharest. Before that, I talked with the shop and asked them to give him a G510 box which shows a keyboard picture featuring a small Enter key.
Guess what. When my friend went there, fortunately, he decided to open the box prior to paying. Surprise! The Enter key was big.
I was enraged! The first thing I did was to write to Logitech Support. After being treated with the usual idiotic messages which consist of 95% copy-paste/templates, I got something out of them: Europe only gets keyboards with big Enter keys, while North America gets the small Enter variety. But all the boxes look the same. Outrageous!
Did I give up? Of course not! I wanted that keyboard badly, so I continued my struggle and I eventually managed to get my G510 from Canada, through a good friend of mine.
Finally! After almost two years of waiting for a proper G-series keyboard to show up, after weeks of trying to get it and after about 1 month of waiting to meet with my Canadian friend, I had my G510!
I was, naturally, very enthusiastic when I unpacked it. But, unfortunately for me, I soon started seeing things I didn’t like.
The overall build quality seemed… cheap. The plastic wasn’t properly finished in some places. Not a disaster, but it was definitely detectable.
The legs which are used to prop it up are disappointingly small, although I have to confess that this didn’t constitute a problem. Still, my enthusiasm continued to plummet.
Driver installation went smooth, as expected. For package contents, technical specifications and all the other stuff you’d see in a normal review, just go and read any of the other reviews on the ‘net^ praising this piece of shit. Use this article to tamper the enthusiasm of other reviewers.
So, with everything properly set up, I begun using my new keyboard. What I’m about to say comes after 2 weeks of continuous use (roughly 8 hours per day).
My first good feeling about this keyboard came as soon as I started typing on it. The keys felt better than those on my old G15, and they were more silent. So, I thought that the situation is finally improving.
Then, it hit me. As I was typing, I started noticing that I’m using the Backspace key a bit too often. For a touch-typist, a lot of things happen in the background, so I didn’t immediately realize what the problem was. I didn’t notice that the Left Shift and Space keys weren’t working at 100%, I just noticed that I’m correcting myself a bit too often.
When I’m using the keyboard for chatting or writing (as opposed to coding or other isolated usage bursts), I usually type at higher speeds. And when I do that, I tend to press the keys a bit lighter. That’s what caused the problem. About 1 out of 10 times, the Space would not work, or the Shift would not capitalize a word. When I started pressing the Space key a bit harder, it sometimes produced double-spaces.
My disappointment grew with each misspelled word. After two weeks, I didn’t know how to get rid of this keyboard faster.
Eventually, the G510 ended up being used by my girlfriend. Surprisingly, she has no complaints about it (although she doesn’t use the stuff I’ll describe below), and this is why I’m willing to cut Logitech some slack concerning this keys business: maybe it’s just some sort of incompatibility between my typing style and the keyboard’s contacts.
But not with…
The Palm Rest
How hard could it possibly be to design a palm rest? Well, Logitech managed to screw up at it. Just try to lift a G510 off the desk. Wham! The palm rest will just drop awkwardly under it, still clinging stubbornly to the keyboard. But if you try to land that keyboard back on your desk, you might end up breaking the palm rest’s hooks. If not, the palm rest will either fall off or just support the keyboard’s weight at an angle of about 30 degrees.
Good job Logitech! I can name about half a dozen cheap Chinese keyboard brands who designed better palm rests.
Maybe you’ll ask why I want to lift my keyboard off my desk. It’s not only that I like to keep a tidy desk and dust it / clean it on a weekly basis, but I also sometimes eat there, and when I do that, I lift the keyboard and I put it over my computer or near it. This disastrous palm rest design means that I have to use both my hands to move the keyboard, which is extremely annoying for me.
The Volume Knob
One of the most awesome features of the old Logitech G15 was the Volume Wheel. A simple swipe with your finger and voila, the volume is down by 25%. It’s so much more effective than the ridiculous Volume Up and Volume Down buttons on 90% of the keyboards out there.
So, once I installed the drivers for my G510, I fired up my new favorite music player: Foobar 2000^. “Hmmm”, said Axonn, “I can barely hear this song. Let’s pump up the volume a bit”. Axonn briefly touches the G510’s Volume Knob with his finger… “AAAAARGHHH!!! FFFUUUUUUUCK MY EAAAAARS!!!”.
Yeap. That’s the new Volume Knob, Logitech’s latest brain fart in terms of gaming keyboards. It’s so sensitive that a swipe with the finger means that you just pumped the volume up from 25% to 100%. Not to mention they threw it all the way at the right end of the keyboard, that is, exactly where a touch-typist’s hands are NOT.
Oh, what’s that? You put it there because it’s a gaming keyboard and gamers should have the volume control near their mouse-hand? Ignoring the fact that this damns left-handed gamers, guess what: I’m a gamer too, and I rarely (if ever) tweak the volume in-game. And when I’m doing some intensive gaming, I’d rather burn alive than release the mouse; so I will definitely not care about fingering Logitech’s emo Volume Knob.
But wait, the G510 can get even worse!
Initially, I didn’t care much about the LCD screen. It was just there, so, well, nothing new. Something did annoy me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Until I looked at my old G15.
Much to my dismay, the LCD screen has been shrunk by about 15-25%. And it feels. Not terribly, but it’s definitely a step backward. In the image below, note that I’ve given the G510 the courtesy of being closer to the camera ::- ).
Even worse, the new LCD screen cannot be tilted and closed like the one on the G15. I heard that there were problems with the wiring of those LCDs on some G15s. I guess that instead of Logitech actually fixing the problem with better materials/solutions, they decided to just dump the feature. So, now, the G510 has a permanent hump.
Now that I think at it, I’m flabbergasted as to how the fuck could Logitech screw this keyboard up so badly.
Money Money Money
It’s all about the money, folks. You see, like all “honest” companies, Logitech has to earn some cash at the end of the day. And in these troubled times, like all “honest” companies, they’ll milk and exploit every ounce of trust from us loyal buyers.
The G15 got Logitech a good name. A good name which they now abuse. The G510 is about 30% more expensive than the G15. And all this, in spite of a:
– Lower plastic quality
– Smaller LCD (with no hinges either)
– Broken palm rest
– Smaller overall keyboard size.
– Dubious key sensitivity.
I didn’t see the bill of materials for this keyboard, but I’m sure somebody could send it to me. My bet is that for each G510 sold, Logitech is getting at least 50% more profit than it got for selling a G15 back in the day. And all this for a shit keyboard.
And don’t tell me that the customizable color back-lighting (which is just about the only hardware improvement this keyboard has over the G15) has anything to do with its price.
For the ridiculous amount they ask for it, they could at least have added a sensitivity control for the Volume Knob in the keyboard’s driver, because I wasn’t the only one complaining about it. But I doubt that they have any programmers working on this. Why waste the profit?
The Good Stuff About It
The only good things I can say is that there probably won’t be issues with the buttons losing their paint after a few years of use, and that the keys are more silent than the G15’s (at least in the first weeks of typing – after a few years, who knows?).
It all remains to be seen. I got a feeling that the awesome Logitech G510 still has some aces up its sleeve… it can yet surprise us!
After all is said and done, I still like Logitech ::- ). I bought my F510 gamepad well after the G510 fiasco… although, I admit, I did that only because I didn’t find any satisfying competing product. The gamepad turned out to be great, although its configuration program does have a few kinks.
Logitech’s luck is that I’m hooked on their “keyboard with LCD and lots of buttons” series. I’m sure that I’m not the only one.
I hope that the company will get back to what they do best and come up with a proper keyboard next time.
Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh on the G510? I know that other reviewers have mentioned the Volume Knob as an issue as well. But in my case, after using the G15 for the past 5 years, the difference in quality was so profound that it simply made me want to take a trip to Logitech’s headquarters and set myself on fire in protest ::- D.
After I placed the G510 back in its box, a good friend of mine donated me his largely unused G15. That one had a few issues as well, but I disassembled both of them (my old defective G15 and this newly received one) and, from two broken keyboards, I made a good one, which I used to type these words.
If you believe you can live through the issues I mentioned so far, maybe the G510 would be a good fit for you. But my advice is to try and use it for a few hours before you buy it. If you don’t have the possibility of a prolonged test, then, even 10 minutes would still be better than nothing.
This is actually an advice which you should apply for any keyboard you’re ever going to buy. I definitely won’t buy another one without a solid test first.