Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
Good keyboard, feature set may be an aquired taste
on 22 July 2013
The first thing to say is that this keyboard will almost certainly live or die on its support: the keyboard's LCD screen supports applets that can provide additional information (either system stats, game stats or a feed) and there is even an SDK you can download to make your own applets. Whether or not this keyboard turns out to be a gaming classic or not will depend to a large extent on the number and quality of the applets created. As the keyboard has just come out, its difficult to say which way it will go. Having said that, I can confirm that the excellent LCDSirReal (SirReal's multipurpose G15 plugin) works perfectly for this keyboard, implying that existing applets for the older G13/G15 will work with the G510, so we potentially have backward compatibility with the older keyboards.
The second big issue is that this keyboard is not a mechanical keyboard: it is a dome membrane keyboard. Although the keyboard is expensive, a lot of that is going into electronics and not the engineering of the keys themselves. What you have here is a fairly average physical keyboard with lots of electronic helpers and eye candy. If you want key quality above everything else, get a mechanical keyboard without all the frills. Ignoring the fact that this is a membrane keyboard, you do get low latency on the keys (fast polling), 6 key multi-press, and lots of custom keys that can be assigned to single keypresses or macros.
Clearly, this makes the 510 a little devisive: some will love it, others will hate it. What I will say to add to the argument is that tactile action has a lot of visual input... the keyboard does look and feel cheaper than its asking price when it is powered down, but as soon as it comes on, your eyes start to colour your perception in more ways than one! I also think that the 'mechanical keyboard' thing is a bit of a cult: if mechanical keyboards are so good, why did they all but dissappear until fairly recently? Fashion? My take is that if a keyboard is at least accurate, then you will get used to anything in terms of key action.
The macro feature (along with some of the system applets) will be useful to certain content creation users as well as gamers. I am, for example, a heavy Adobe Premiere and Photoshop user, and already have custom layouts for both. For Premiere (video editing), the LCD screen shows CPU and memory profiling so I can see at a glance if my machine is actually encoding or if it has crashed or is low on resources. The G keys I use in Premiere for some of my most common functions. The first cluster of G keys I have assigned to the different screen layouts and the second cluster toggle the most often used windows, and the third for common timeline editing shortcuts. Similarly for Photoshop and Softimage/XSI.
For gamers and overclockers, the keyboard-LCD screen is not always just eye candy. When playing games with an overclock, I often used my second computer screen just to display temps. With this keyboard, running certain applications (such as Core Temp) results in the application output appearing on the keyboard-LCD so you no longer need that second screen. Also, if you are a heavy downloader, you have to often leave a computer screen on to show progress, but on LCDSirReal you have the incoming and outgoing web traffic (and in the more useful Mbytes/s rather than Windows Mbits/s), so you can turn the screen off and just look at the keyboard-LCD every now and then. Its also useful when you are using something like Origin. At the moment, I am downloading Deadspace 3, but also playing through Battlefield 3, both bought as part of a recent EA games humble bundle (8 games for a fiver, including the two mentioned, Burnout Paradise, Crysis 2, Mirrors Edge... and um, the Sims 3), but the traffic generated by the deal is making their servers drop connections regularly atm. No problem - I just keep an eye on the keyboard, and if the traffic drops, I know I need to come out of BF3 and restart Origin. I'm still looking for something that tells me NVidia GPU stats on the LCD, but for the CPU and download health, I'm covered.
Surprisingly, the keyboard has an in-built sound card (plug in headphones and you hear sound not through a passthrough, but through audio hardware in the keyboard. Useful if you will be using headphones on a gaming PC with motherboard sound, as there is often so much electrical interference and less than perfect audio hardware in such cases that the keyboard audio can sound noticeably better. Equally surprisingly, on the 510s, you don't get a USB hub or even a single USB passthrough for your mouse.
Finally, the keyboard just looks cool. You can assign a backlight colour as part of each profile, so as you change profiles, not only does the LCD applet and key macros change: so does the keyboard colour! Definately an expensive gimmick, but be aware that I am an Alienware Aurora owner ;) Slightly dissapointing that you don't have colour zones, or the ability to animate the colour on events (changing colour on CPU loading, flashing the keyboard on emails, animated colour graduations on inactivity).
There is already at least one template for the G Keys - google 'overlay for G510' and you will find a link to a printable template from bandlero on deviantArt. Really really useful for us Photoshop/SoftImage and other keyboard shortcut heavy app users!
So to conclude
- You can get keyboards with far better physical key action for the same price, but those keyboards will not have the additional electronic features you get with the G510s. Take your pick!
- Ignoring the keyboard action, the keyboard feels responsive.
- You get a nice audio device in the keyboard, but no USB for your mouse.
- The number of applets and quality of game support is something that will make or break the keyboard, and as it has just been released, that is a bit of an unknown at the moment. It *is* backward compatible with the older 'G' keyboards though, which is a major plus as there are lots of older applets that do work (and fit on the G510 screen with no issues). I've had no issues with any applet Ive tried so far, and it does work with the best older applet out there (LCDSirReal).
- They keyboard looks a little ugly when it is off, and really only comes alive when it is powered on.
- The keyboard firmware is not upgradable. This may affect longevity of the community that builds around the keyboard.
All in all, a good keyboard. Best things are the macro ('G') keys and LCD applets that effiectively gives you an extra screen of diagnostics for gamers and overclockers, worst thing is that you can get a mechanical keyboard for the same price.