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Press the Send button and the message is sent to the recipient.

Now you can move MirandaG15 back into background and get back to the game. But if you want to continue chatting, you can view the previous messages from a sender or write new messages.

Moreover, MirandaG15 offers contact list management options. It is not quite convenient to work with the contact list on such a tiny screen, but anyway.

So, the G15 keyboard’s LCD screen is not just a means of displaying information, but also the means of reacting to this information like answering to instant messages from ICQ or Jabber without leaving the currently running application. This feature is helpful not only in games but also at work. The habit of casting your glance down to the keyboard screen to see who’s writing to you in ICQ is acquired very quickly. People whose work requires attention, but who don’t want to give up ICQ altogether, should appreciate this feature.

Logitech, however, positions the G15 as a games-oriented keyboard whose screen should be used to show crucial in-game information (for example, the health status of your character). So, what about games? Not much, to tell you the truth. Well, they do support the G15 (the recently released Prey supports it originally, World of Warcraft has begun to not long ago, and you can add this support to Unreal Tournament 2004 by installing a patch), but the screen is virtually useless if it shows primary game information. There are two reasons for that: it is too small to show too much information, which means that this information didn’t take too much space on the main monitor. Second, crucial in-game information must be easily accessible, always within your view, and its placement on the keyboard’s screen contradicts this rule.

Let’s take Prey as an example. What does the keyboard’s screen show? The character’s health and spirit bars and a compass that indicates the direction the character is moving to. Does this save you much space on the monitor? Very little. A compass circle in one corner and a couple of numbers in another. Is this handy? Not at all. I just ignored the compass when playing Prey because it required me to lower my eyes from the monitor down to the keyboard and then to raise them back to the monitor. And it can so happen that some enemies from the nearest teleport will jump up at you right at this very moment.

Fortunately, the G15’s screen is not totally useless for games. Logitech just makes a mistake trying to present it as a means to display primary in-game information because there’s actually not much of such information and it must be always within your view, i.e. on the main monitor.

The true purpose of the G15’s screen is to show information of secondary importance that usually just clutters the monitor, but can be of some use at times. This information may even come not from the game itself but from background applications that can’t even put anything out on the monitor which is busy displaying the game contents.

I mean such background programs as voice chats that are often employed in multiplayer games for team coordination. For example, TeamSpeak and Ventrilo both have support for the Logitech G15. The problem is that it’s often hard to understand who’s talking what in chats with unfamiliar people who may also be talking in a language you (or they) don’t know too well. It’s impossible to output this information on the main monitor because the chat program is separate from the game. And even if possible, this would just clutter the monitor. And the keyboard’s screen that you can cast your glance upon anytime comes in handy here.

And not only in games. Voice chats in conference mode (i.e. when there are more than two men talking) can be used outside games and the G15’s screen will play the same role, showing what’s currently going on and allowing you not to keep the chat window active on the main monitor. I suggest that developers of various communication utilities, from ICQ clones to Skype, pay attention to this feature, especially as implementing support for the G15 doesn’t take much trouble.

So, the G15 screen is indeed very useful, but not in the way Logitech meant it to be. It suits ideally for displaying information of minor importance, not only in games but also at ordinary work.

Well, if you don’t need that screen at all, you can simply close it down.

 
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