Couch potatoes rejoice! It's now easier than ever to control your PC-based entertainment center from across the room, thanks to Logitech's diNovo Mini keyboard. This sleek palm-size controller is both a keyboard/mouse controller and a Media Center Remote, and it's small enough to fit in your pocket. But the $149 price tag may have you reaching for your trusty old clicker.
Measuring 6.0 x 3.5 x 1.1 inches and weighing just above 6 ounces, the diNovo Mini sports a glossy black and silver finish and a black opaque lid that protects the 63-key deck. The smallish keys are amber backlit for easy low-light usage. On the upper right of the deck is a round Clickpad (touchpad) that is roughly the size of a quarter, and eight media control buttons along the top of the keyboard are sandwiched between a back button (Backspace or back one level) and an OK button (Select/Enter). A Windows button takes you into the Media Center applet in Vista or XP MCE, and a sliding switch lets you choose between Media Center Remote mode and keyboard/cursor mode.
In Remote mode, the Clickpad and several media buttons glow green; in keyboard mode, they remain amber. The keyboard uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery that can last up to 30 days between charges, and a switch in the battery compartment toggles between PC mode and Sony PlayStation 3 mode.
The diNovo Mini, which communicates wirelessly via a Bluetooth signal, was instantly recognized by our ThinkPad's internal receiver after installing the included SetPoint driver software. For those without Bluetooth capabilities, Logitech supplies a mini USB Bluetooth receiver that can be stored in the bottom of the device when not in use. We used an external USB TV tuner to connect the laptop to a 47-inch Visio HDTV to see how the keyboard would perform from across the room at a distance of 30 feet.
diNovo Mini Performance
Although the keyboard buttons are small and are designed for thumb-typing, they were surprisingly responsive. Each key is slightly raised at the center, which helps identify them by touch and prevents accidental keystrokes. Even so, you wouldn't want to use it to write a term paper; as with any thumb-type keyboard, it's best suited for texting and typing in URLs and movie titles.
The touchpad mouse cursor worked well for the most part but would jump from time to time, although not often enough to be a nuisance. The device worked flawlessly in Media Center Remote mode as well. We had no trouble recording and playing back TV programs such as a Yankees game, viewing our picture library, or burning a CD from within Windows Media Center.
We were impressed with the wireless range of this little device; it is advertised to work at a distance of up to 33 feet (as per the Bluetooth class 2 radio spec), and it didn't disappoint. Of course, once we ventured outside of the 30-foot zone, the keyboard became less responsive and we experienced many missed keystrokes.
At $149, the Logitech diNovo Mini may cost more than most are willing to pay for a wireless keyboard/mouse device, but if you have a PC set up as a media center, and are tired of looking at that bulky keyboard lying around your living room, it's worth every penny.