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Saturday, 16 July 2016 17:05

Logitech G610 Orion mechanical keyboard – Brown or Blue? (review)

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This is the tale of two mechanical keyboards – the Logitech G610 brown and blue. The colour refers to the type of Cherry MX mechanical key switch – they are identical in all other respects.

Let’s start by admitting I am not a gamer and the G series is Logitech’s gaming brand. I have enlisted the help of a rapid touch typist and a gamer to use the boards and comment.

I use a mechanical switch keyboard because, as a journalist, I used to wear out a few lower cost keyboards each year. I type a few million characters each year – the equivalent of over 30 trashy paperback novels (no slight intended on my writing skills!).

So I know keyboards, and I know what makes for a good key press and a bad one. A good one will allow a typist or gamer to achieve maximum speed by having a good throw (4mm is about right); tactile feedback (through the fingertips — you know you pressed a key  note this is not haptic or bounce feedback); have well-spaced keys; and roll over – a buffer that allows gamers or touch typist to get ahead of what you see on the screen.

Most low-cost keyboards use a membrane (where the key presses a rubber bubble under it to contact a printed circuit board). No matter how good the membrane is, it will wear out in 3-5 million keystrokes. I used to wear out at least one each year – if the printed letters did not rub off first.

Better keyboards use a hybrid dome-switch – often called a Chiclet keyboard or scissor switch. This is still membrane but has a more mechanical feel.

The nirvana is mechanical, and the ruling king is the MX series by Cherry. It makes four types – black, brown, blue, and red. All last at least 50 million keystrokes – 10+ times membrane. No matter what brand of Cherry MX mechanical keyboard you use all will “feel” the same as the other using the same colour MX key switch. You can read more about the different MX key types here.

  • Black has a full linear 60cN keypress – top to bottom and needs more force. Great for thumping gamers and ham-fisted typists who want to press the key down fully to avoid accidental keypresses. Produces an audible click.
  • Red is full linear 45cN – top to bottom and uses less force to get there. No tactile bump. No click.
  • Brown has a two stage 45cN keypress – designed for typing and gaming with a soft tactile bump at mid-stroke meaning you only need to press half way (2mm) to activate. They are the quietest of the four types; no click.
  • Blue has a 55cN press – a typists dream offering a two stage press as per Brown (2mm), and an audible click.

MX key switches are not cheap – let’s just say that the price is around $1.50 per switch, and you need from 80 to 104 per keyboard. By comparison, membrane costs a few cents.

The difference lies in the design and construction materials of the keyboard.  

  • Construction of the key caps. In order of low to high quality – decal stick on lettering; printed lettering; laser engraved/printed lettering; or injection moulded to allow for backlighting to shine through.
  • Adjustable height.
  • Key layout – are the arrows tucked under the enter key or under the Insert/Home block beside that? The latter is better.
  • Quality of the electronics e.g. the rollover buffer and programmable features like LED backlights

So back to the Logitech G610 review.

To do the test I enlisted three different people – a touch typist, a gamer, and me as a ham-fisted MX Black user.

The touch typist preferred the blue. “It is reactive/smooth which is nice – I have a feeling I’d be able to work longer without finger strain! It has a nice audible click, but that could be a little annoying in an open office.” On the brown. “Seems less noisy and a bit lighter keypress.”

The Gamer had been using an MX black – the thumpers keyboard. “I prefer the brown. The blue is noisier.”

Me – I have been using MX Black for a few years so I am used to the heavier press and audible click. My preference was the blue for typing, but I could see the appeal of the brown as well – it is quieter.

Verdict – most gamers will be happy with brown, and most typists will like blue.

Out of the box

The G610 series are a traditional, straightforward 104 keyboard design – everything in its place and no weird shapes or keys. Compared to flagship G710 and G810 its styling is pretty conservative. At $209.95 it is a slightly lower cost version of the $249.95 G810. It has backlighting but loses the ability to have custom colours.

It has three height adjustments – flat, mid (4°) and high (8°). It has 26 key rollover that allows you to press keys ahead of their actions.

It has a volume roller, keys for game mode (disables the Windows/Menu key), backlit brightness, speaker mute, and four media control keys.

Logitech G gaming software for Windows and macOS gives more control of keys, modes, allocating function keys, and lighting. By default, the white LED lighting produces soft waves of light from left to right. You can also have solid, twinkling, zones, etc.

What’s missing are things like a USB hub, audio in/out, RGB LED and palm rest – all these will cost more.

Specifications (both unless specified)

Conclusion

The brown or the blue are solid keyboards. After using each for a few days as a journalist, I lean towards the blue – if only for the audible click. Typists will fawn over it too.

Gamers will probably like the brown. All are a hell of a lot easier on the fingers than black.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!