|A mechanical key switch.|
Mechanical keyboards are all the rage lately; they're an idea whose time came, left, and has deservedly returned.
Loghtech has entered the mechanical keyboard market, and that is a good thing. The G710+ has its advantages over mechanical and non-mechanical keyboards alike, but first, you should understand the difference.
Computer gamers often would rather be dead and buried with their keyboards and mice than forced to play a first-person shooter with a gamepad. There are two reasons for that: One, first-person shooters really suck when played with a gamepad (Halo included). Two, the precision with a mouse and keyboard cannot be matched with a gamepad, even if the gamepad jockey thinks he's really, really good.
That's why you don't see many cross-platform games. The technology exists to let players on Xbox 360 to play against, or co-op with, PC players. Most companies choose not to use it, and it's likely because competition between the two play styles typically gives way to utter slaughter. Some of us saw the ugly results of such an experiment with an unpopular game called Shadowrun, an Xbox Live game that paired 360 and Windows players on the same servers. For the most part, the 360 players bitched and moaned about something to do with fairness, while Windows players leveled them with headshots.
It was sad.
But I Digress
|The G710+. Source: Logitech.com|
But I digress. Computer players, as I said, would often choose keyboards and death over gamepads, but on the other hand, they don't always get the better end of the bargain unless they care to learn a little bit about the best keyboards available. The discerning PC player would rather live to fight another day unless his/her honorable death meant (s)he'd be buried with a mechanical keyboard, which is different from a run-of-the-mill keyboard - even a gaming keyboard with programmable, extra keys and multimedia keys and Swiss-Army-style fold-out mattress.
Mechanical keyboards are superior to non-mechanical keyboards (what shall, for the remainder of this review, be referred to as "squishy" keyboards) in the same way that hand grenades are superior to sparklers. They're similar in theory, but one is so much better than the other at certain tasks, such as clearing a room of hostile combatants, that it's not really a fair comparison.
Typically, squishy keyboards have a big logic board that contains a contact for each key that's on the corresponding keypad. When a key is pressed, a little, squishy, rubber placer gives way to allow the key to compress the contact, activating a keystroke. Those rubber bits tend to wear rather quickly and eventually start to give at different rates, making the most-used keys feel squishier than the lesser-used keys. As the rubber ages, it can crack and rot, and eventually there's only one way to fix such a keyboard: Throw it away and get a new one.
|Another picture of the G710+ from Logitech.com|
Mechanical keyboards are a bit different. Each and every key is fitted with its own, physical switch. These mechanical switches take much, much longer to age than a rubber stopper. Whereas a typical, squishy keyboard might live through between one and five million clicks per key, a mechanical keyboard (whose switches can be individually repaired, if you can find the parts) key switch can survive ten million or more clicks before it starts to show signs of wear.
Now, some people will complain that mechanical keyboards click every time a key is pressed, driving them gradually insane. The Logitech G710+, as well as a host of other mechanical keyboards, employ springs to prevent such clicking. They're still louder than squishy keyboards, but they don't exhibit the clickety-click made famous by old-school IBM PS/2 and PS/1 keyboards.
[hed]What's Special About This Mechanical Keyboard?
The G710+ is typical of the Logitech G series of peripherals in that it packs features not offered by everybody. Some of these include:
- A column of six "G" keys down the left side of the keyboard, perfect for...
- ...a programming interface, which allows you to remap keys and program macros for in-game use
- A volume knob on the left side, next to a mute button, and near the rest of the G710+'s dedicated multimedia keys
- White-backlit keys, whose brightness can be adjusted. In fact, the brightness of the arrow and the all-important WASD keys can be adjusted separately of the rest of the keyboard.
- Mass. This thing weighs a ton, and won't drift around your computer desk.
- A USB 2.0 port for your mouse, or whatever else you'd care to plug into it.
The only Logitech-typical feature the G710+ lacks is audio jacks for your headset, and let's face it, the keyboards that do have audio jacks don't exactly have Creative Labs SoundBlaster-level audio adapters built in.
The keys themselves don't click, and, in fact, if you're used to the solid-feeling, clicking mechanical keyboards, the G710+ might feel a bit mushy at first. It doesn't take a ton of pressure to activate any given key, but that's not to say they're as soggy as a standard, squishy keyboard. There's definitely a feel of solidness here, it's just not as pronounced as those old IBM keyboards.
|Logitech Gaming Software|
The programming interface will be familiar to anyone who's owned a Logitech keyboard in the recent past - it's the ubiquitous Logitech Gaming Software, and it's really quite intuitive. The G keys come in handy for some games, especially real-time strategies and role-playing games in which you might actually need an occasional macro. The only thing I use them for in first-person shooters is FRAPS, to take screenshots with the G5 key. For what it's worth, there's a macro recording key to allow you to record macros on the fly, but I can't imagine ever using it.
Given a test of many games, including such recent powerhouses as Bioshock Infinite and Brütal Legend. I'm satisfied with the G710+, and it's nice to know it'll last longer than the stack of old, squishy keyboards on my Shelf of Lost Dreams (aka my dead hardware morgue). I really beat the shit out of my keyboards, so the resurgence of mechanicals is a blessing.
A little more resistance in the keys, and the Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard would have closed in on a near-perfect score, but as it stands, I'm happy enough with it to give it a score of:
638 out of 710!