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Manufacturer: Logitech
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: USB Port

Logitech Elite Keyboard
March 12, 2003 | Greg Gant

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When Apple introduced the revolutionary iMac in 1998, it marked the de-evolution of Apple peripherals. Instead of a full sized keyboard and usable mouse, Apple opted for a pint-sized keyboard and the infamous puck mouse. The iMac design carried over to the Power Macs and dominated Apple's product line until the release of the Digital Audio G4s, which then received a mild upgrade. The Apple keyboard received a much needed size revision and the puck mouse was replaced with a lackluster optical mouse.

My Blue and White G3 featured the same lousy keyboard and mouse as my parents' iMac, which I promptly upgraded. Later, when I purchased my G4 Digital Audio, I went through a similar ordeal. I never even opened the Apple Pro Mouse (Apple seems to throw the word "Pro" around loosely these days), but I decided to try the keyboard out. The Apple Pro keyboard was sufficient and the volume controls and CD eject were a welcome addition. I decided the Apple keyboard would suffice but I've always been looking to replace it.

Features of the Elite
The Logitech Elite is Logitech's premiere keyboard. It sports all the latest features in keyboards; 13 programmable buttons, a scroll wheel, volume dial, media player buttons and a programmable F-key set. The 13 programmable buttons come preset (and labeled) as E-mail, Messenger/SMS, Webcam, Media, Mute, iTouch, Search, Shopping, Favorites and My Home. By default the F-keys function as unique buttons, providing single key access to popular key commands, such as new, save, undo, redo, print, and save; as well as links to common locations on your computer like the top of your hard drive, documents, pictures and music folders. The F-Lock modifier toggles the F-key between normal and alternate state.

Unlike the Apple Pro Keyboard, the Elite features no USB ports. Luckily my Intellimouse Explorer has a long cord, but the USB ports are sorely missed. I had to plug my Nostromo n50 Speedpad into a USB hub rather than the keyboard.

The Elite is usable out of the box, without drivers, but the Mac drivers must be installed to access all the features of the keyboard. The driver package installs a preference pane into the System Preferences, which launches a configuration utility. Within the utility, almost all the unique buttons can be edited to perform tasks such as opening folders, URLs, or applications; ejecting a CD, changing the volume, and performing key combinations.

Unfortunately, the drivers lack the ability to create or save application specific profiles. A profile for a keyboard or mouse, for example, would allow the user to attach a configuration of buttons to an application. The profile is automatically loaded whenever the application is launched. Also notable, is the fact that the Logitech drivers cannot perform key functions that require more than one non-modifier key and the drivers lack any way to assign a function to the Window’s Start Menu key.

I found that the volume dial is actually more cumbersome than using the volume keys on the Apple Pro Keyboard. The volume had a bad habit of jumping up and down if scrolled too fast. Luckily, the volume controls can be assigned to any number of keys.

Of all the features, I was most disappointed with the media control keys, which only controlled functions in iTunes. I prefer Audion for a number of reasons, but there isn’t a way to attach the buttons to Audion. Profiles would have been very useful with the media keys, so functionality could be extended to all my media applications like Apple DVD Player, QuickTime, MacAmp Lite, Video Lan Client (VLC) and MPlayer.


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