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Logitech diNovo Media Desktop Review

Highs

  • Sleek design; Keypad doubles as a remote controller; fast
  • accurate Bluetooth response.

Rating

Our Score 9
User Score 6

Lows

  • Bluetooth might not be compatible with some Microsoft products; price may make it a luxury item.
Logitech's diNovo keyboard and mouse are some of the most functional and beautiful desktop ornaments you will find.

Summary

Simply put, you cannot find a better keyboard-mouse combo at this price point or below. The diNovo keyboard and mouse offer great range, responsiveness, aesthetics, and overall solid build quality. While the software could stand a tweak or two, we feel that the hardware that underlies the product is hands down some of the best we have seen. Even though this fine piece of eye candy comes at a steep cost, it is worth every penny.

The only thing keeping the DiNovo from getting a perfect 10 is the software. It isn’t buggy, unstable, or cumbersome. It just does not complete the package the way it was meant to. While we would like to think that this was just the first release that would be updated as features become available, the most recent version of the software posted at the Logitech site dates back to December 2003. But, design, quality, reliability, and performance far overshadow the shortcomings of a piece of software most users will not even know exists until after they crack open this detectible bit of desktop jewelry.

Perhaps the biggest draw for the diNovo will be the appeal to the Home Theater PC crowd, where the elegant design and great range make it a perfect match for most users. Whether you are an executive who wants a classy piece of hardware, a home theater fanatic, or an average user that demands quality, you will love the Logitech diNovo.

The price point is something you will have to consider first when shopping. This premium package comes at a steep price, retailing for $250. But, this is only $50 more than the second tier Logitech Bluetooth Duo package, which we rated a 9/10. However, it is also close to $100 more than Microsoft’s current offering. Of course if you want a keyboard that is like everyone else’s and still offers Bluetooth, Microsoft’s options might work for you. Logitech has proven to us time and time again that they are still the king of the wireless input devices, and the price premium is nothing compared to the lasting quality and usefulness.

Introduction

Until recently, there really wasn’t much that manufacturers could do to improve upon computer interface peripherals. There are only so many extra buttons you can add to a mouse or keyboard, and split keyboard design aside, ergonomics advancements aren’t really necessary anymore.

But with the advent of wireless technology, most notably Bluetooth, keyboard and mouse setups have seen great improvements in the recent year. Logitech is at the forefront of this resurgence with their host of Bluetooth-enabled offerings and their flagship product is the subject of this review, the diNovo Media desktop.

This Bluetooth ensemble combines an ultra-flat keyboard with an advanced mouse and combination number pad/remote control but also comes at a premium, as it has an MSRP of $250.


Logitech’s sleek and powerful Bluetooth-powered diNovo Media Desktop.

Design and Features

Logitech’s diNovo keyboard and mouse are some of the most functional and beautiful desktop ornaments you will find. From the sleek low profile design, to the custom software, the collection oozes style and quality. It is the first conversation piece type of keyboard from a big-name manufacturer that is widely available, stable, and easy to use.

Based on Logitech’s Bluetooth wireless hub, the diNovo Media Desktop is designed for all types of computer users including gamers, office workers, and media enthusiasts. The package contains a full-size keyboard with extra shortcut buttons, Logitech’s MX900 optical mouse and a separate number pad that doubles as a Bluetooth multimedia controller. Sleek keyboard and high-performance mouse aside, it is the MediaPad that separates the diNovo from the competition. Integrated into this standard number pad is handheld Bluetooth remote commander capable of controlling all of your media applications.

Each of the three wireless components of the diNovo uses standard, replaceable AA batteries. Logitech’s most advanced Bluetooth mouse, the MX900, drops easily into the dock for recharging. Logitech says that the keyboard and MediaPad batteries should last around three months, and our subjective tests proved that to be realistic. With casual use, you should be able to get a good three weeks of use on a single charge of the MX900 mouse, or as Logitech states, about 10 days for an “average office user.”

One minor complaint we have is that the base station cord is too short, as was the case with the Logitech Bluetooth Desktop we reviewed a few weeks ago. Because the design screams minimalist, the best excuse we could come up with was either they expect the base station to be placed on top of a tower, out of sight, or plugged into a desktop hub or monitor base sporting USB connections.

Structurally the diNovo feels very well built, made mostly of a lightweight metal. The design features a nice balance of shallow curves and sharp angles. Perhaps most striking is the thickness, or should we say thinness. The keys sit only about one-centimeter from the desk surface. The keyboard has a built-in wrist rest with what might be called texturing, but not padding. All surfaces, except the wrist rest, are smudge proof.

In addition to the full compliment of keyboard keys, the custom software allows reassigning of the function keys to any function you choose. Too many keyboards have suffered from “button sprawl” – the addition of more buttons to do small tasks – and but the diNovo only has a few extras. The F-keys ability reduces that clutter significantly. The few additional small silver buttons are quite useful though. The buttons on the left side allow quick access to standby mode, Web browser, E-mail client, and search. The right side has volume up, down and mute controls as well as a media button (more on this later) and a four-way media player pad (play/pause, stop, forward, back). And for those of you that enjoy tweaking your BIOS on a daily basis, the DiNovo is fully boot/BIOS/Safe mode compatible.

The mouse included with the diNovo is the award-winning Logitech MX900 Bluetooth mouse. As we concluded in our Bluetooth Desktop review, this is an excellent mouse. It has great resolution, precise tracking and we never experienced any lag. But what would any great mouse be without ample extra buttons? At the thumb rest there are two buttons for quick access to forward and back in a web browser. Around the scroll wheel are fast scrolling up and down (scroll at 10 times the speed of normal scrolling), and a button designed to be used for switching between applications. Of course all of these can be reassigned to whatever function you like, or disabled. The only new mouse function missing is the sideways tilting scroll wheel found on some new Microsoft mice, but we may see that in future revisions.

The separate numeric/media pad is the most interesting piece in the package. It sports a non-backlit LCD that displays mode, num lock status, time, date, battery level, Bluetooth connection status and even a customizable welcome message when the system is powered on. There are three modes that the pad can be placed in: “123”, “NAV”, and “+/=”. 123 mode allows the MediaPad to function as a standard numeric keypad. NAV activates the secondary key functions, such as a directional pad and media related functions used in the Logitech Media Desktop application. And +/= mode converts the pad into a standalone calculator, which can be set to copy the result of any calculation into the Windows clipboard. The pad sports the same low profile and volume/media buttons found on the full keyboard. The MediaPad is designed to be used as an omni-directional remote control for a PC when playing back media files through any of the supported media players. In addition, the keypad displays notification if you receive email or an instant message along with a chime. During normal operation, the media pad displays date and time.

Usage and Testing

The DiNovo is the first piece of Logitech hardware we have tested that ships with the Logitech Media Center. The keyboard and numeric pad have a “Media” button that launches the application in full-screen. The numeric pad can be used as a remote by switching to NAV mode. Logitech’s Media Center is not by any means a complete media solution, but is a surprisingly good first step.

The main screen allows quick access to the user’s pictures, music, and videos, as well as options. The media database is not updated automatically, so the user has to rescan their media directories if they add content regularly.


The MediaPad inlcudes an LCD to display information on the media you are playing.

We experienced some issues with ID3v1 tags getting preference over ID3v2 tags for some MP3 files, which may be an annoyance to some. Notably lacking in this full-screen music application are visualizations and a minimizable interface. We also found that most of the keys on the media pad were functionally duplicated – the right arrow does the same thing as the next track button, which does the same thing as the forward button. There are several media players that are supported by the MediaPad but none of them that we tested could be controlled solely by it – all required some use of the mouse. Also, the LMD has no discernible way to scan in either MP3s or videos, or the ability to make playlists. However it does support playback of playlists, and music by genre, artists, album, etc. One cool little feature is the MediaPad’s LCD, which displays the track progress and title.

The diNovo has the overall best range out of the box that we’ve seen so far. We were able to walk 20 feet from the receiver with no dropped keys. We did not have to adjust an antenna, which was an issue with the Gyration products, and experienced no significant wireless interference. The tests were done in a multiunit building in downtown Chicago, with up to eight sources of possible interference within 30 feet of the receiver. Possible sources of interference included an 802.11b/a/g base station, 5.8GHz cordless phones, cell phones, an ATI Remote Wonder, a microwave, plus whatever was in the other surrounding units. We noted no interference between the Logitech diNovo, MX Duo, and wireless gaming controllers (PC, Xbox and PS2). This is to be expected, since the diNovo uses Bluetooth, and not 2.4GHz transmission.

As we noted in our Bluetooth Desktop review, Logitech’s Bluetooth wireless hub can be used as a central connection point for all of your Bluetooth-enabled devices such as phones, PDAs and headsets. It should be noted though that there are documented incompatibilities between Microsoft and Logitech Bluetooth devices. Also, because of bandwidth limitations, Logitech has recommended not using their Bluetooth headset at the same time as the keyboard. Some symbols that require the alt key are not accessible (such as some Spanish punctuation).

These minor limitations aside, overall we found the reliability very high, experiencing only a few dropped connections over several months of testing at 15 feet away. No noticeable lag was experienced when playing several first person shooter games, placing performance on par with former wireless king, the MX Duo. There is no official Mac support, but postings on other sites have indicated that the diNovo will work, but without the custom software provided to Windows users. If you happen to have any experience with this, please post about it here in our forums.

Conclusion

Simply put, you cannot find a better keyboard-mouse combo at this price point or below. The diNovo keyboard and mouse offer great range, responsiveness, aesthetics, and overall solid build quality. While the software could stand a tweak or two, we feel that the hardware that underlies the product is hands down some of the best we have seen. Even though this fine piece of eye candy comes at a steep cost, it is worth every penny.

The only thing keeping the DiNovo from getting a perfect 10 is the software. It isn’t buggy, unstable, or cumbersome. It just does not complete the package the way it was meant to. While we would like to think that this was just the first release that would be updated as features become available, the most recent version of the software posted at the Logitech site dates back to December 2003. But, design, quality, reliability, and performance far overshadow the shortcomings of a piece of software most users will not even know exists until after they crack open this detectible bit of desktop jewelry.

Perhaps the biggest draw for the diNovo will be the appeal to the Home Theater PC crowd, where the elegant design and great range make it a perfect match for most users. Whether you are an executive who wants a classy piece of hardware, a home theater fanatic, or an average user that demands quality, you will love the Logitech diNovo.

The price point is something you will have to consider first when shopping. This premium package comes at a steep price, retailing for $250. But, this is only $50 more than the second tier Logitech Bluetooth Duo package, which we rated a 9/10. However, it is also close to $100 more than Microsoft’s current offering. Of course if you want a keyboard that is like everyone else’s and still offers Bluetooth, Microsoft’s options might work for you. Logitech has proven to us time and time again that they are still the king of the wireless input devices, and the price premium is nothing compared to the lasting quality and usefulness.

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