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Comparing the G15 with typical multimedia keyboards, the latter usually provide only one option, which is selecting from a list of standard functions. Third-party utilities allow to assign arbitrary macros and scripts to buttons, but you usually have to write the scripts manually, having first learned their format, whereas the G15 allows to do that in just a few clicks of the mouse.

The Macro Manager program is used to manage the created macros. It shows you all the existing macros, also those that are not currently assigned to any buttons (a macro is not deleted if you remove it from a button; it can be assigned back to the same button or to another one with the Assign Macro function). It also shows the contents of the selected macro:

You can do the following here:

  • Control not only the “Button Pressed” event but also the “Button Depressed” and “Button Released” events. This allows to program key combinations (for example, the screenshot above shows that the button “2” is pressed down and released while the Left Windows button is being held down) or specify a delay between the press and the release of a button;
  • Insert variable-length delays in any place of a macro in milliseconds;
  • Continue to record an incomplete macro at any place within it, not only from its end;
  • Insert not only keystrokes but also presses of the mouse buttons into a macro. The mouse pointer position is not saved, though
  • Automatically record delays between keystrokes when recording a macro from the keyboard

The only thing that seems to be missing here is an option of remembering the pointer position for mouse-related events and an option like “write a review automatically and e-mail it to the editor”. Oh, sorry my falling into a dream here.

The management of groups of macros I wrote about when talking about the M buttons is not limited to the M buttons only. Besides the three manually selectable M buttons, you can enable automatic management of profiles that are loaded up depending on what application is launched (this function is mainly intended for games, but can also be used for work, too). To do this, you should select Profile → New in the Profile Manager’s main window:

All you need to do to assign a profile to a certain program is to enter a name and description (any text will do) and select the program’s executable file. The profile will be enabled automatically when the file is started. The last thing can be made manually as well as with the keyboard’s LCD screen – you select the appropriate menu item and see the following text:

Now you start the game up and press OK. That’s all. The profile has now been created and enabled. You can begin to write macros for it. When you launch the game next time, the keyboard’s screen will show a tip, “Profile Activated: Far Cry”.

I’ve been talking about games above, and Logitech intends this feature for games, too, but nothing prevents you from assigning profiles to whatever programs you want. Just like with games, the profile becomes activated as soon as you launch the corresponding program and is disabled when you close the program or remove the system focus from it (this means that if you want to create macros for programs running in the background, you have to write them into the default profile).

I guess there’s only one thing missing here: there are no labels on the G buttons that would help you see which profile is currently selected. UnitedKeys has implemented something like that in their 205PRO keyboard: its functional buttons are equipped with small monochrome LCD displays (yes, there is also the Optimus keyboard from Artemiy Lebedev Studio in which all the buttons have full-color OLED displays, but this is only a paper concept as yet, and I wouldn’t attempt to predict its release date and price).

So, why is it a problem to make such buttons on the G15? I suspect it’s all about the cost of manufacture. The UnitedKeys keyboard is expected to appear in shops in 2007 at $299, which is a considerably higher price than the G15 is selling at, although otherwise the 205PRO doesn’t differ from common office keyboards. It’s understandable: the displays proper are not cheap (and you need a dozen for a 205PRO whereas the G15 would require as many as a score) and their fastening system is hardly simple, so the resulting cost of manufacture grows up quite high. Of course, we’ll eventually see mainstream keyboards with displays in the functional buttons, but I don’t think it’s going to be anytime in near future.

 
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