A CLICK IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Logitech’s new G15 keyboard for Windows is designed for  for game players, but it seems useful for a lot more than that. Anyone would love to have one of these.

The keyboard itself is a sleek black array you can barely read until you turn on the computer. Then the letters and numbers light up with a low, blue glow that is easy to read. This is very cool, and we haven’t even gotten to the best part.

The keyboard has 18 programmable G keys over to the left. You can create and assign a “macro” to any one of these keys. A macro is a sequence of keystrokes that can be stored on a single key. That sequence can be anything from calling up your e-mail or having a name and address slug. The only bad part is that the macros here are limited to about 500 keystrokes. That would work for most uses — addresses, for example — is sufficient for gamers, and very useful for programmers.

To create a macro, you hit a key labeled “MR.” Then select one of the G keys. Type the key sequences you would normally do to execute the commands or type the text you want. When you’re through, hit the MR key again and from then on just striking that G key will automatically trigger the macro. You can’t record mouse movements or clicks, just key strokes. (Note: Microsoft Office allows you to record macros of any length, but only in Office.)

The macros on the Logitech keyboard can be keyed, so to speak, to work only within a particular program. The keyboard also has keys labeled M1, M2 and M3 so that each G key can be mapped for three different uses, which gives you the power to have 54 (three times the 18 G keys) programmable keys. The G1 key used with the M1 key, for example, would be one macro, and the same G1 key can hold a different macro if you use it with M2 or M3.

If you can’t remember the steps, fear not: A set of instructions will appear on a small LCD window at the top of the keyboard. This window can also display how much memory and CPU you’re using and lots of other information.

If you’re playing a game, for example, you will get information about where you are and what’s happening. If you start playing a CD or most any music stored on your PC, the little screen will display what’s playing. There’s a volume control just below the display. The little window can also show date and time and display an analog clock face.

We think this is a lot of power for the $70 to $80 prices that Web retailers are charging, and you get a very nice keyboard for normal use as well. Regular retail outlets charge about $20 more, we noticed, but there’s no waiting. Logitech’s Web site is www.logitech.com.

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