Before we get into listing and working through the features of the G910 Orion Spark, we wanted to share some key elements of our discussion with Logitech’s Max Pan. Max is the Regional Gaming Product Manager who was visiting Melbourne for the PAX event in November last year and we were able to get a generous slice of his time to talk through this product in particular. We were able to get a better insight into the product development approach that continues to produce globally successful gaming peripherals.
We started off talking about the older G710+ where Max explained that the Brown Cherry MX keys were selected for the G710+ because they were seen at the time as a perfect balance between noise and actuation with additional o-rings for noise reduction. Logitech were responding to a study from the US where gamers liked the feel of mechanical key switches but not the noise. This was an interesting decision at the time because most other gaming peripheral vendors were using Cherry Red, Blue and Black or offering keyboards in a choice of switch type. In our review of the G710+, we really liked it and agree that the switch selection was a good choice as were the o-rings to dampen the noise. Now we can see what Logitech was working on in the background.
Max explained what made the new Romer-G switches different from the regular Cherry switches by going into detail on the two main differences. “Number 1, the actuation point is different. Cherry and Razor switches are using 1.9mm or 2.0 mm but this one we are using 1.5mm. The 1.5mm is not something that we are making up. It’s based on the teams from the US, TSM [Team SoloMid] and Cloud 9, they are in the League of Legends league in North America. They gave Logitech the feedback that they wanted to have 1.5mm actuation that would give them faster response. You can feel the actuation is more on top…. Once you press down a little bit, you will feel there is the actuation… so that gives you 25% faster actuation than regular mechanical.” Max went on to explain the other main difference of increased durability, “We are offering 70 million clicks. The competition is offering 40 million to 50 million clicks so that is about a 40% more durable than the competition”. So what we take from that is that the Romer G switch is more responsive and it can take a beating.
We brought up another prominent player in the PC peripheral market, Razer, and how they received criticism on the forums and in some reviews for making their own switches. We asked Max how Logitech felt about making their own switches and if it was seen as a risk or was Logitech very confident in this move to unique switches.
“I think we are really confident because we spent 2 years on this project and development – entirely 2 years we’ve been working on this and we could have made it a little bit earlier to make the market and we decided that we needed to make everything right before we really launched the product.” Max is fully aware of how fickle and unforgiving gamers can be. “As an example, all the little detail is really thought out. We got the feedback on G710+ that the gamers didn’t really like the programmable key G1 here [in the top left corner] because they often mistakenly hit the ‘G1’ when they wanted to hit the ‘escape’ so we decided that we wanted to remove 1 ‘G’ key from the side and make it 5 keys instead of 6, and move the rest to the top. So we are listening to the gamers.”
Max then drew our attention to the side profile of the keyboard and the angle of the key tops, “If you look at it this way [side on], you will find that these 3 lines [the bottom 3 rows of keys] and see that the key top is leaning a little bit forward the monitor and these 2 lines [top 2 rows] … are pretty flat on the top so the reason for this is that when you do computer typing, we put our hands like this [a claw shape] and its really easy to hit from the top if the keys are angled more forwards toward the monitor.” Ergonomics and comfort are clearly important to Logitech and their sponsored teams, “The palm rest – it comes with 2 sizes in the box, a larger and a smaller for comfort and the palm rest is removable.” There is a dent on the palm rest that sits under your palm which is designed to allow some breathing space for sweaty hands.
The keys also have a different look to them, a more angular and futuristic look. The explanation was far beyond a simple aesthetic change. “The key cap – the top is designed for a purpose. If you look at the key cap, there is a dent on the top. This is to help you centre your finger to the top of the key cap so it’s really easy for you to centre it. Also on these keys [gesturing to the left quarter of the keyboard] you will notice that there is a ridge because you are using your pinkie and the pinkie is the weakest. The ridge also makes it easier to hit.”
Sponsorship isn’t just a marketing exercise to get endorsements from players and influence their fans and other gamers. Max described how it works as “Basically right now across the globe we have signed 12 eSports teams, in the US we have Cloud 9 and TSM, also in Asia Pacific we have 6 teams, in Japan we have DetonatioN, and then in Korea there is C J Entus and Invictus Gaming in China… We only go to the top teams in the local markets. These teams don’t just endorse our products, they are fully involved in the latest product development, so that’s why we get a lot of eSports player insight” We learned that if Logitech can’t make a decision on the way forward with a product under development, they may make a few prototypes for these teams to use and provide feedback and that’s how they make a final decision on the specification.
We moved onto the ARX Dock saying that we have seen smart phone integration from other vendors as well and asked what main driver was for ARX Control. “One of the main reasons is that unlike many years ago, the Cell phone actually was not that good in terms of the resolution of the monitor/display but now days, the best monitor you can get is people’s Cell phone. So there is no reason for us to make a dedicated LCD Screen anymore and it’s really easy because you have apps that can basically monitor the gaming status and if you want to take it away, then you just take it away and put it in your pocket.. You can even install the app on the iPad to make it a little bit bigger.”
As expected, the discussion then turned to the backlighting where Max explained “The idea why we came up with the 16.8 million colours backlighting was because nowadays people are playing different game genres, not a single consumer is playing just one game genre, they actually switch from one genre to another FPS, MOBA MMO, you name it. So the idea is that you can basically customise each individual key’s colour to highlight the colour that you need in the particular genre. For example if you play League, then you can just highlight ‘Q, W, E, R’ you just shut down the other keys and make it pop.”
We asked if there are/were any plans to release a ’10 keyless’ version of the G910 and got a response that neither confirmed nor denied the future of such a beast – so we will watch this space with interest. It seems like a logical product to offer so we can live in hope for now.
At the end of our discussion with Max, we had really gained an appreciation for how much effort goes into the G series peripherals and why the motto is ‘Science Wins’.