The LCD screen is one of the most remarkable features of the G15, yet it is not unique. Such screens first appeared on the numeric pad of Logitech’s diNovo keyboards. They used to display the information from the calculator and the thermometer built into the keyboard. Today, the Cordless Desktop MX 5000 Laser is being produced along with the G15 and is equipped with a display, too. It is implemented differently than in the G15, yet the overall concept is the same.
Speaking in technical terms, the G15 keyboard has a monochrome passive-matrix LCD panel with a resolution of 160x43 pixels and dimensions of 89x24mm. The panel has a refresh rate of about 30 frames per second, but it is virtually impossible to display moving objects on it due to its very high response time. The viewing angles are good from below and sides, but when you are looking at the screen from above, the image gets inverted starting from an angle of about 45 degrees. This is not a problem, though, as you can adjust the tilt of the screen in a wide range.
The screen has white backlighting, its brightness is regulated with the same button as the keyboard brightness. The backlighting is uniform, except for a brighter band along the right edge of the screen.
You could use the diNovo’s calculator without even turning the PC on, but this screen is absolutely useless without an installed driver. It can do nothing on its own save for displaying the manufacturer’s name. Fortunately, this lasts only until the G15 driver with appropriate plugins is loaded up. After that, the keyboard offers to choose from six standard plugins:
- Media Display shows media player information about the reproduced audio track; this feature currently supports iTunes, MediaLife, MusicMatch, RealPlayer, Sonique, Winamp and Windows Media Player.
- LCD Countdown Timer is a stop-watch and a countdown timer. You can start it up with the button under the LCD screen, but the initial time for the countdown timer can only be set up from the PC.
- LCD POP3 Monitor shows the status of your mailbox
- LCD Clock shows a clock, calendar, and (if desired) the number of unread letters.
- Performance Monitor shows CPU load and memory usage information
- Keyboard Profiler shows tips on entering new macros (I’ll talk about them below)
You interact with the plugins using the four elongated buttons under the screen. The round button on the left of them is for switching between the plugins. The control buttons do not have certain fixed functions. Their function depends on the currently selected plugin and is indicated by icons that appear on the screen above them (as a matter of fact, these buttons are only used with the Countdown Timer among the six standard plugins – to begin and stop the counting of time).
The LCD Manager program is used to manage the plugins. It allows to disable unnecessary plugins and change their settings. You can notice two more plugins besides the standard ones: AMD CPU and System Information LCD Display and Miranda G15. I’ll talk about them below, especially about the latter one.
There are two buttons for each plugin: Configure and Properties. The former opens a window with the plugin’s own settings (for example, you can select the appearance of the clock for the LCD Clock plugin and disable the display of the second hand and of the number of unread letters; some plugins don’t have their own settings at all). The latter shows system settings for the selected plugin. These include the plugin name and the path to its executable file as well as permissions to automatically launch the plugin or switch to it.
The LCD Settings tab contains general system parameters, particularly the method of switching between the plugins. There are two methods available: automatic switching in a cycle or manual switching by pressing the button under the display.
If you are using the button, the screen sequentially shows the names of active plugins. When you stop to press on the button, the selected plugin becomes active. You can also enable the fast switching feature: the name won’t be shown then and each press of the button will switch to the next plugin in the sequence.