If you’ve got a Home Theater PC (HTPC), you know how awkward it can be keeping a full-sized keyboard lying around your living room. Logitech feels your pain, and has come up with a miniature wireless keyboard that doesn’t take up much space but offers full control over any PC from up to 30 feet away. Its touchpad is a bit sensitive and you won’t be typing a term paper on it, but for 99% of HTPC control tasks the diNovo Mini works wonderfully and is one of the most well-designed controllers we’ve ever tested. If you have a Playstation 3, the diNovo Mini works well with that system too.
Features and Design
The diNovo Mini is a teeny, tiny keyboard that includes 63-backlit keys, a touchpad that doubles as a D-pad, media control buttons, a Windows Media Center button and three programmable hotkeys.
It connects to a PC via a Bluetooth dongle and has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. On a full charge it can run for approximately 30 days, according to Logitech.
The diNovo mini features two different backlight colors that correspond to the state of the touchpad. When it’s in touchpad mode, the keys glow orange. If you switch it to D-pad mode, the backlight changes to green.
A little larger than an iPhone, the diNovo includes a semi-transparent smoke-colored cover that wakes the device up and puts it to sleep. When you open the lid the backlight slowly comes to life, and closing it makes the light fade away as well. If you leave the lid open but don’t type on it for a few seconds it’ll also hibernate to save battery life.
It includes all the standard keyboard keys, including a Windows key, page up and down, and even a shortcut for Ctrl+Alt-Del.
The diNovo uses either an orange or green backlight according to the mode it is in.
Use and Testing
We plugged in the little USB dongle and like all Logitech devices, the drivers installed automatically and we were in business in just a few minutes. The feel of the keyboard is very natural and the positioning of the keys is spot-on perfect. As you hold it your right thumb controls the mouse cursor, and your left thumb can punch of a number of buttons but we found it easiest to keep it on the OK button, which is the same as a left-click. You can also press the touchpad down to left-click, but we found it easier to navigate using the OK button.
For web navigation it works just fine, but we found the touchpad to be a little sensitive, which made controlling the mouse pointer a tad difficult. It works, and mostly goes where you want it, but it’s not as accurate as using your entire hand to guide a mouse. We even slowed down the mouse cursor speed in the SetPoint software, but it didn’t make much difference. You can also use the software to configure the three hotkeys.
You don’t have to install the SetPoint software, but you can use it to customize hotkeys.
The diNovo Mini includes a Windows Media Center button, and launching it makes clear why Logitech added the option to use the touchpad as a D-pad controller. The whole thing works brilliantly, allowing you to navigate WMC with ease. We had zero issues controlling WMC and loved the onboard volume controls that show a little bar with a number to help you adjust the volume.
The keyboard is a bit small, obviously, but we had no issues at all typing with our thumbs due to the perfect size of the keys and their excellent spacing. We were able to tap out basic emails, type URLs and other rudimentary tasks, but we certainly wouldn’t want to be writing long essays with it or anything.
Leave it to Logitech to devise a keyboard none of us knew we wanted, but now can’t live without it. We’ve never liked having a big keyboard in our living room for our HTPC, and the diNovo Mini is very close to the perfect solution to this problem. Though the touchpad is a bit difficult to get used to, the rest of the device is a joy to use and is supremely comfortable and easy to use. If you have an HTPC this keyboard is a must-buy product, period.
• Intuitive layout
• Extremely functional
• Perfect size and shape
• Touchpad is a bit difficult to use with your thumb
• Can’t type very fast on it