So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Logitech diNovo Mini
Kinda cute but kinda pricy.
- Small, light, rechargeable battery, kind of cute, backlighting
- Laborious to type on, pricy, feels flimsy
A tiny Bluetooth keyboard to control your media centre is a cool idea. However, the diNovo Mini is hard to recommend, particularly given its relatively steep price. If you're paying $200 for a keyboard it better be damned good and the diNovo Mini isn't in our opinion. It looks kind of cute and the backlighting is somewhat funky, but all up we'd prefer a normal remote control and a full-sized wireless keyboard hidden under a cushion.
Price$ 199.95 (AUD)
Logitech's diNovo Mini is a tiny Bluetooth keyboard designed for owners of media centre PCs. Compatibility with a PlayStation 3 can also be enabled with the flick of a toggle.
If you have a stylish desktop such as Dell's Studio Hybrid or ASUS' Eee Box B202 as the centrepiece of your home entertainment setup then you might not want a full-sized wireless (or, even worse, wired) keyboard cluttering up your lounge room. The diNovo Mini will also allow you (in theory) to do away with a mouse thanks to its integrated circular touchpad.
The sales package includes a USB dongle for computers without built-in Bluetooth connectivity. An AC adapter is also included to charge the keyboard. According to Logitech, a full charge should take less than four hours and last for more than a month of use.
The device resembles a case for an unusually large pair of glasses. The keyboard and touchpad are backlit, so it's easy to pause a movie for a toilet break without having to turn all the lights on. The lights activate when you flip open the semi-translucent lid on the device; unfortunately the lid feels quite flimsy. In fact, the diNovo Mini in general seems a bit poorly put together. The lid rattles somewhat, and the cover for the bottom compartment feels like it would be easy to break (it's also frustrating to remove and refit). The compartment houses the battery, the button for Bluetooth pairing and, optionally, the USB adapter so it doesn't get lost when not in use.
The keys have reasonable tactility and are decently sized (similar in size to those on Nokia's E90 Communicator), although they have no space between them. A dedicated row of media keys enables easy control of Windows Media Player, and we were easily able to select, play and skip MP3 tracks from a decent distance. Theoretically, Bluetooth technology will enable you use this keyboard up to 10 metres away from your computer. However, if you have a lounge room this size you could probably afford to just hire someone to do the job for you.
Three of the diNovo Mini's shortcut keys can be remapped to an extent using the included software. For example, you could choose to have the 'media' key launch iTunes instead of Windows Media Player, and the 'power' key could log you out instead of shutting down.
To keep the device small, some standard keys have to share space with other keys and are accessed using a notebook-style function key. For example, the apostrophe and double quote mark don't have their own key. This is particularly galling for apostrophe fans given the indignities this important punctuation mark has suffered at the hands of the Internet and its users.
One positive aspect of the arrangement is that the Enter key can emulate Ctrl, Alt and Del when the function button is pressed. This enables the traditional three fingered salute invoked when Windows misbehaves to be reduced to a two-fingered salute.
The only reasonable manner to type on the keyboard is by using both thumbs and it can be quite laborious. The touchpad's circular shape can make it hard to adjust to and exacerbates the problem of its small size. The included software allows the adjustment of pointer speed, but we found it very difficult to get a balance between it not being frustratingly slow and being able to control the pointer accurately. A neat touch is the switch that enables it to act as a five-way directional pad; arrows on it light up to let you know that you've changed modes.
It's only about 150mm wide and 80mm deep, so the diNovo Mini has definitely got a certain cute factor. However, we feel it's a hard sell at its RRP of $199.95. We'd prefer a standard remote control and a decent-sized wireless keyboard and just put up with the clutter. On the other hand, if you don't baulk at the cost it could conceivably be useful for entering the occasional URL of a hilarious cat video to watch on your TV.
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