Price (RRP): $249.95
I learnt to type on a desktop. A desktop typewriter, that is. An enormous clunky thing with a key travel that must have been a good 25mm and required a very firm strike to make sure it flung the type head with sufficient force to leave a character on the paper.
Over the years I’ve produced a few million words on everything from variations on that, through to tapping away on virtual keyboards on touch sensitive screens. Until now, the apex keyboard for me was the IBM PS/2 keyboard from the late 1980s and early 1990s. When I stopped working for places that gave me such fine equipment, I ended up purchasing a very expensive Lexmark keyboard by mail order from the US in the mid-1900s. Sadly, a spring in the space bar broke fairly quickly and that was it. I’ve been with membrane switches and worse ever since.
Until now. I am typing these very words with the mechanical keys of the Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum gaming keyboard. Yes, it’s intended for gaming, but anyone who has to punch out thousands of words on a regular basis will like it too. As for me, I love it.
The Logitech G810 is a wonderful mixture of traditional virtue, with some nifty stuff overlaid on the tradition in a way which does not detract from it.
First, it uses mechanical switches. These are Logitech-developed Romer-G switches, tested to seventy million keystrokes. The keys sit up high out of the base compared to the standard keyboards one uses, around a centimetre. The layout is properly conventional, just as though it were twenty five years ago (except that now we have the Windows and Option keys near the spacebar).
This is important. My most recent keyboard was not cheap, but I’ve struggled with it for months because the function keys are narrow and boldly labelled with their secondary purpose, the actual F numbers in a hard-to-read colour. In the end I had to resort to an unsightly paper label sticky-taped to it, and still my fingers have trouble finding the right keys. The Logitech G820 has full sized function keys, just where they’re supposed to be. There’s also a numeric keyboard in the right position. The Insert/Home/Page cluster are the right way around, sitting properly above the arrow cluster. All are full size.
The few extras are confined to some buttons for controlling media player, a nice smooth roller for the volume, and backlight on/off switch, and a switch for invoking “gaming mode” (which disabled pre-specified keys).
Useful for gamers, less so for typists, is the ability of the keyboard to register up to 26 simultaneous key presses.
The keyboard is not wireless. The fibre-insulated USB cable has to be plugged in, which makes sense given the power needs for the LEDs.
LEDs? Yes, LEDs. There are red, green and blue LEDs under each and every key (and the “G” logo and the media and keyboard control buttons). These are extremely controllable as we’ll see shortly.
This is a hefty keyboard. It weighs nearly 1.2 kilograms. There’s no flexing of the base, no creaking. It’s solid. Adjustable feet allow the keyboard to be flat, or occupy two tilted positions. The body is fairly thick and since the keys stand up tall, the whole thing is rather higher than is normal. The top of the space bar is nearly 30mm above the desktop.
When you first plug in the keyboard, it fires up with a startling wave pattern of lights, bands of colour sweeping across the keyboard from left to right. It’s a wonderful show-off effect, and essentially lets you know at a glance the full capabilities of the keyboard.
Not that I could see myself ever typing on a keyboard like that. Indeed, ever being capable of typing on a keyboard like that. Way too distracting. You can just hit the light button on the keyboard and just switch it off. But to get true value from the product you should download the free Logitech Gaming Software. This allows you to customise the keyboard in a number of ways. The most important is the ability to change what the lights do, but there are some potentially useful other functions, such as redefining function keys and choosing particular keys on the keyboard to make inoperative.