I recently purchased the Logitech G11 gaming keyboard, and it’s really working well for me – not for gaming, but as an assistive technology device.

The keyboard has 18 additional keys on the left side, labeled G1 through G18. Above these are three Mode keys, labeled M1, M2, and M3. Combined, these give 54 possible macros that can be active at any point. Each key can be programmed with a set of keystrokes, and for gamers, time between keypresses can be included.

Make a mistake in the text you’ve typed into a key macro? Don’t worry! You can go back and do some editing – delete keystrokes, record before here, record after here.

Once your keys are programmed, you can export that set of macros to a file, and these files can then be imported when needed. So you can have multiple sets of macros saved for when you need them. Years ago I used a programmable keyboard this way to save the complicated series of commands I needed to reprogram my DSL router, and kept that profile saved in a file for when I needed it.

I’ve programmed different text onto the keys in each mode, and use it for filling out forms and for welcoming folks to a technology chat room. Even when my hands are trembling or worse, I don’t pick up extra text, as I did when I was trying to copy and paste text! It would also be great for someone with arthritis filling out forms on the Internet (a lot of these now use javascript and aren’t recognized by form filling software such as Roboform).

To help me remember what I have on each key, I’ve created a Microsoft Word document that I fill out and print onto a 4×6 index card, then laminate it (clear packaging tape) and cut out the appropriate areas, resulting in a handy little template to fit around the programmable keys.

One feature I wish it had would be a text-mode ability to copy text from elsewhere and paste it into the macro for a key. This could be a URL, a common paragraph, or whatever. This feature probably wouldn’t be as useful for gaming, but would be great when used as an assistive device.

There are two other features I’ve found useful. Besides the programmable keys, the keyboard has three levels of backlighting – off, low, and high – useful when working in a darkened room. There’s also a mute button to shut off sound.

Everything I’ve said here also applies to the G11′s big brother, the Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard. The G15 has in addition an LCD display on the keyboard for game-related displays.