|Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Input Devices|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 22 October 2012|
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Gaming Keyboard Detailed Features
Unlike most other mechanical keyboard vendors, Logitech doesn't talk much about their key switches. The box notes "High speed, low noise tactile switches for feedback you can feel.", but that's as far as they go. The switches are in fact Cherry MX Browns with the optional (from Cherry) individual LED lighting on each switch, as shown below. MX Browns are an unusual choice for a gaming keyboard, since they're "tactile" switches: there's a "bump" you feel as you press the key down, which is the point where the character registers. The brown key switches don't make an audible clicking noise as do the Cherry MX Blue key switches, but the conventional wisdom is that linear switches (i.e. no "bump") such as Cherry's MX Black or lighter-effort MX Red are better for gaming keyboards.
Like all mechanical key switches, the MX Browns have the potential to be noisy. While they don't make a clicking noise on actuation like MX Blue switches, you'll normally hear a fairly loud "thump" or "clack" when the key cap bottoms out against the key switch base. I say "normally" because Logitech has taken a simple step to alleviate this problem: a rubber O-ring in each key cap provides a soft landing surface, and makes the keyboard almost as quiet as a rubber dome keyboard. Of course if you prefer the noise and crisper feel of the "naked" switches, you can simply pull each key cap and remove the O-rings. This view of the key cap also highlights the cap's construction. I had initially thought that these must be "double shot" caps, with the legend molded through in a contrasting color of plastic so that it can't wear off. Instead it appears as though the entire cap was molded in translucent plastic, then somehow coated with a moderately thick layer of some black material. It took a lot of scraping with a knife blade to remove enough of the black material to see the whitish layer underneath, so I think wear on the black layer won't be a problem.
The legends on every dual-character key are reversed...that is, the primary character is on top, and the shifted character is on the bottom. Logitech did this because the LED is at the top of trhe key switch, and the legends must be near the top of the cap to be illuminated evenly. The one other keyboard I have with backlit Cherry switches puts both legends side-by-side at the top of the key cap. With either solution I'll sometimes get the wrong character on keys like the semicolon-colon or single quote-double quote.
Above the function keys are the macro selector keys M1 through M3, the on-the-fly macro recording key MR, and the "game" key with its little joystick logo. The three macro selector keys switch among the three banks of a game profile to change the definitions for the six macro keys G1 - G6, yielding 18 possible macros per game; a yellow LED illuminates the chosen key. The Macro Recorder key lets you define simple macros on the fly: press the key (which will light up red to indicate recording is in progress), then press the G key you want to define, then type whatever you want, then press the MR key one last time to close the definition. Pressing the game key turns on a light over a matching joystick emblem on the right end of the keyboard and disables the Windows key, so pressing it accidentally won't blow you out of your game. It took me a while to figure out what this key did since Logitech does not include any documentation with the keyboard.
The backlight control and media keys are at the top right of the keyboard. The backlight keys cycle through the five available brightness levels (including off); the first key controls the brightness of the WASD and arrow keys, while the second controls the brightness of the rest of the keyboard. The media keys are standard: play/pause, stop, and previous and next track. Just above the numeric keyboard are the mute key and a scrolling volume control, and you can see the "game" indicator light above its joystick icon, just above the Mute key.
The media keys work without any software required on both Windows and Mac platforms, which is nice. However, to get the full benefit of this keyboard, you'll need Logitech's software. We'll take a look at this in the next section.