Logitech has joined the low-profile keyboard market. The company announced two new keyboards, the G815 and G915 Lightspeed, both of which sport super-slim chassis and half-height keycaps atop Logitech GL switches.
The pair are essentially identical, with the only difference being that the G915 has a wireless option. They’re full-size layouts with an extra column of programmable G keys along the left side. You can see plenty of Logitech design DNA, including the steely gray metal top plate, keycap font, circular media buttons, and volume roller. And of course they have RGB lighting.
The G915 does include a cable, even though you can go unplugged and roll with Lightspeed wireless connectivity or Bluetooth. Logitech reps said that they spent a lot of time optimizing the battery life. With the lights off, they claim that the G915 can last 120 hours but that with RGB fully ablaze, the run-to-die time is 30 hours. You can keep an eye on the battery life in the G Hub software, which will recalculate the remaining time available depending on the lighting implementation.
About those “GL” switches
Like many bigger keyboard companies, Logitech offers branded switches that are made by Kaihua. The GL switches are not homemade. The company has done this before, with its GX Blue switches that it debuted on the Logitech G512. In the case of the GX Blue switch, I questioned the wisdom of using Kaihua-made switches. It just didn’t make a lot of sense, given the work Logitech had done creating and marketing its own Romer-G switches, which are made by Omron but offered some unique qualities over more standard desktop switches.
For a first foray into the lowpro world, though, it’s not a bad move. Logitech doesn’t have any low-profile switch IP (that’s been made public, at least), and the extensive work done by both Kaihua and Cherry to develop lowpro switches would indicate that it’s a tough task. Plus, Kaihua is still seeking design wins for its Choc lowpro switches. And so, the GL switches are just Kailh Choc switches with a new name and Logitech’s QA.
The G815 and G915 will come with your choice of linear, tactile, or clicky GL/Choc switches (Red, Brown, or White, branded as GL Linear, GL Tactile, or GL Clicky, respectively).
The competitive landscape
Going Choc puts Logitech in good company–or at least, common company. The switches have appeared on the majority of lowpro keyboards to date, including the Hexgears X-1, forthcoming Hexgears Venture, a couple of Havit keyboards, and Gamdias Hermes M3. It’s a bit of a departure for a larger keyboard maker like Logitech, though, as both Corsair and Cooler Master have employed Cherry’s excellent but ungainly named Cherry MX Low Profile RGB switches.
But Logitech has the distinct advantage–apparently–of solving the nagging problems that have plagued other lowpro keyboards.
The most annoying issue to date has been the use of chiclet keycaps. The Hexgears X-1 is a pretty good keyboard, but the chiclet caps (and especially the spacebar) severely impact the feel. (Hexgears is hoping to abate that with the Venture.) Cooler Master tried something completely different, by using what are essentially extra thick chiclet keycaps, but that’s…kind of an odd solution. Instead, Logitech has opted for half-height keycaps, which in my opinion are an ideal compromise for low-profile switches.
The other problem, which plagued both the Havit and Gamdias keyboards, is flimsy construction. Their plastic chassis had way too much give in the middle, to the point of distraction. Logitech’s G815 and G915 are made of metal, which should in theory provide a much sturdier typing feel. (It’s worth noting that Corsair adopted the same philosophy with its K70 RGB MK.2 design, but using the Cherry lowpro switches instead of Kailh Choc switches.)
The risk is that the G815 and G915 will still be too thin to resist your gamer rage banging. But the company said it was wary of that potentiality, and tried to get clever about using the available thickness (or thinness, as it were) wisely. For example, they built in tiny relief marks in the bottom part of the chassis for the resistors and caps on the PCB to take out one more millimeter of overall girth.
And all the rest
The lighting on these new keyboards is per-key, as you’d expect, and you can create custom animations in the G Hub software. There are three onboard profiles, so with the five G keys, you can create up to 15 macros. (Read: You probably can’t assign macros to the other keys.) There are two USB ports, one of which is a passthrough port. The G915 can toggle between Lightspeed and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and you can easily toggle between wirelessly connected devices with the press of a button, too. That includes PC, macOS, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS 10 devices.
The G815 will run you $200, and the G915 Lightspeed is $250. Both are available today from Logitech, although at press time they aren’t listed anywhere.