Logitech's Prodigy line takes aim at gaming's unwashed masses

It's gear for the folks who don't drink Red Bull all night and stream on Twitch.

These past few years, Logitech's been branching out into "serious" gaming gear with its G series, to better compete with companies like SteelSeries and Corsair. However, Logitech is still best known for simple computer peripherals that most people would keep in their office or den. The company is aiming to bridge these two worlds with its new line of Prodigy gaming gear coming out this month. The products offer enough of a performance boost to please many hardcore players, but their look and price could make a few converts of people who wouldn't normally consider themselves gamers.

The Prodigy assortment covers the basics: A keyboard, wired or wireless mouse and a headset, each for under $100. The designs are simple compared to some of Logitech's other game offerings; you won't find any macro keys on the keyboard, or a bunch of extra buttons on the mice. This keeps things simple for newcomers, as they won't have to worry about accidentally hitting the wrong key or activating some feature they don't need.

Both the G213 keyboard and G403 mice have a matte black finish, the better to show off their lighting features. While the lighting and keys can be programmed to your liking, there are few customizable hardware bits; you can't even remove the wrist rest on the G213.

Though made of plastic, the G213 deck is a solid piece of hardware. It doesn't feel flimsy and the rectangular shape with rounded corners is nice. It looks classy, and is even stylish in a way that the Corsair Rapidfire K70 isn't. However, if you peck at the keys the difference from the K70 and other expensive gaming keyboards is immediately apparent: The G213 uses membrane buttons, unlike most high-end gear which trends toward springier, more responsive switches. This keeps the cost down, but can feel a tad squishy if you're used to mechanical decks. However, the G213's typing still feels crisp and the keys themselves have a nice light matte texture that's nice to touch.

The G403 mice are available either wired or wireless, with no major aesthetic difference between the two models. The mice feel smooth and textured, though the sides have a more rubberized feel to keep your hand from slipping. The extra buttons are limited to two on the left side for your thumb, and a DPI switch just below the scroll wheel. The battery on the wireless G403 only lasts days -- not weeks -- thanks to the built-in lighting. This can be a bit of a shock for anyone used to other wireless Logitech mice; the company's Marathon Mouse M705 can run for years without ever needing a battery replacement.

The G403 mice are home to one of the line's few concessions to physical customization. You can't swap out the button covers and there's no snap-on panels to change the shape. But, if you like your mice to have a bit of heft behind them so they're a little more steady under your hand, there's a small panel on the bottom to add extra weight. Even here, the G403 keeps things simple by only leaving space for one flat metal disc about one inch in diameter. You simply push the panel on the bottom to pop it out, then push the weight into the panel and place it back into the mouse. The mice only come equipped with a 10 gram unit for now, but there's always the possibility of Logitech making more weights available in the future.

The weights don't have a lip or anything else you can grab, so getting them out of the panel is a bit of a pain (and hard on my nails). It's probably the only real usability issue I found with the mice.

Both the keyboard and mice can be configured with Logitech's existing gaming software. You can change the function of any button and choose a lighting scheme, either by selecting from a drop-down list or designing your own. Sure, many users will be happy to ignore the customizations, but the ease of use might tempt them to give the software a try.

Perhaps most interesting of the software's features is the ability to disable keys when "game mode" is activated, so you don't accidentally say, hit the Windows key in the middle of a match. This is a godsend for sloppy typists, though it's also a good bit of security for more experienced users.

If you're not quite sure what key configuration would work best for a particular game, the software contains built-in profiles for over 600 titles, and will check to see which you already have installed. This list includes titles from series like Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, and Mass Effect. (Though Logitech demoed the Prodigy series for me using No Man's Sky, no profile has been created for it yet.)

The odd man out in the Prodigy series is the G231 headset. Instead of the matte black of its keyboard and mouse siblings, it's gray with orange details. It's also the only Prodigy product based on an already-existing item: Logitech's G230, which shares the same plastic build, non-removable mic and 40mm drivers. There are no lighting or audio features. The biggest difference from the older model is that the G231 has a new cable so it can be hooked up to a console.

It didn't feel heavy on my head and the cups rested nicely on my ears without feeling oppressive or hot. The lack of a detachable mic means you're unlikely to use this as just a pair of headphones outside of gaming, and the color scheme means more style-conscious users might opt out of the G231 altogether (the G230 at least comes in black with red highlights).

The most appealing thing about the Prodigy line are the price points. The G213 keyboard, the wired G403 mouse and the G231 all run $70, while the wireless G403 will run you $100. With some comparable peripherals costing as much as $200, the Prodigy series is ideal for players on a budget or just anyone just looking for their first piece of serious gaming gear.