Logitech diNovo Mini Remote/Keyboard Review

Sagittaria - 2008-03-24 16:05:08 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: Sagittaria   
Reviewed on: May 21, 2008
Price: $149.99

Introduction:

When it comes to choosing a remote device to control your dream Media Center, there are tons of options, but it’s hard to find any that have the perfect blend of portability, functionality, and ease of use. Fortunately, Logitech just released the diNovo Mini - a handheld wireless keyboard with a ClickPad that’s designed to perform all of the functions necessary to effectively control an HTPC from the comfort of your couch.

I was pretty interested in the Logitech diNovo Mini when I first heard about it - its design obviously breaks away from the norm, featuring a wide, fully functional keyboard and a ClickPad that serves as a mouse substitute. Yet, the diNovo Mini is extremely small - not much larger than the palm of my hand – and sports lightweight and sleek construction, which is certainly something I can live with. The diNovo Mini appears promising – let’s have a closer look.

 

 

 

Closer Look:

The diNovo Mini Remote/Keyboard comes in Logitech's signature green and black packaging, with the front panel featuring a view of the remote, and the back side highlighting some of the diNovo Mini’s features.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I slid the inner bundle from the box, I was greeted by more of Logitech’s fancy packing – a small green box on top of another container that held some smaller items, including the manual. I set the top box aside, and found the diNovo Mini remote sitting in another fancy plastic package; I pulled it out and found a power adaptor, a battery pack, and a USB Bluetooth receiver.

 

 

In the accessory box, I found the manual, a driver disc, and a nice cleaning cloth with “diNovo” printed on it. I'm beginning to wonder if a good part of the purchase price went into the packaging and cleaning cloth; don't get me wrong, the fancy packaging and cloth are nice, but they’re not really necessary. The box will only be used once, and chances are that I'll lose the cleaning cloth like everyone else. At the bottom of the package I found the Bluetooth receiver - which sports a “Connect” button on its underside, and a power adapter to charge the Li-Ion battery. Rechargeable batteries are very handy for remote controls - nice!

 

 

 

Closer Look (Continued):

I was pretty astounded when I first held the Logitech diNovo Mini – it was very, very light, but felt surprisingly sturdy! Even the large, smoked keyboard cover didn’t seem like it would come off without a fight – a great feature for a remote! Aside from its solid construction, the look and feel of the diNovo Mini was simply awesome - the keys, the glossy inner cover, the matte silver on the outside - it was stunning! These pictures just don't do the diNovo justice.

Moving on to the keypad, the diNovo sports a fully functional QWERTY keyboard along with a small ClickPad, which is similar to the touch pads found on laptops. A switch on the upper left allows the user to switch the function of the pad from touch to directional. The top row of keys contains media “hotkeys” and a few blue “function” keys which require the user to press the “FN” keys to the left or right of the space bar in combination with another key – similar to Alt-Tab, or Ctrl-Alt-Del. These keys enable zoom features, an internet browser hotkey, a media player shortcut, and more. Really, this remote has it all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The diNovo Mini’s underside sports a thick rubber backplate, which covers the battery and the red Connect (emergency) button. Also, a small switch to the right of the battery allows the user to switch the diNovo from PC to Playstation 3 use.

 

 

As soon as I plugged in the battery, flipped open the cover, and started pushing buttons, I was blown away by the diNovo Mini’s spectacular lighting. This remote looked like something out of a high-tech fighter jet! The lighting was subtle, not glaring, and was very useful in the dark.

When I used only the ClickPad, the corresponding components and keys lit up, but when I used the keypad, then the entire device came alight. Then, I switched the ClickPad to Directional mode, and arrows appeared on the pad, along with the corresponding keys – but now in green! Wow, I can't imagine all the uses I’ll find for this remote!

 

Configuration:

Installing the diNovo Mini’s drivers and software shouldn't be too difficult - after all, I should only need to install the Bluetooth receiver, and Windows should take care of that via Plug-and-Play. Sure enough, the receiver was indeed Plug-and-Play compatible; it appeared as a standard hub and keyboard when I plugged it in to my PC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s on the drivers CD, since it doesn’t contain software pertinent to the remote, which is essentially a standard keyboard and mouse? I have not a clue; the manual claims that it contains "SetPoint" software that can be used to create key shortcuts and adjust cursor speed. Yet, after installing the program, I saw no such options – only generic support and updates. I uninstalled the program since it had no real purpose.

 

Specifications:

System Requirements

Technical Specifications

Connectivity

Power and Battery

Dimensions and Weight

 

Features:

Convenience and Style

Control

Performance

Testing:

Testing Setup:

The best way for me to fully test the Logitech diNovo Mini was sitting on my couch in the dark. Once the Bluetooth receiver was installed, the remote immediately began working - no other changes were needed. First, I set the ClickPad to Touch, and started experimenting with it; I was a little overwhelmed at the outset - as I am with any new device - but figured it out pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the diNovo was not nearly as accurate as a real mouse – it was reminiscent of the imprecise feeling of a regular laptop touchpad, which I expected. Left-clicking was accomplished by pushing down the ClickPad, a button in itself. Then I switched to Directional mode, which I liked quite a bit; it’s a replication of the arrow keys on a regular keyboard, and are be used by pushing down in the corresponding direction.

I pulled up various programs and began surfing the web; gradually, I became more comfortable with the diNovo Mini. Despite the remote’s small size, the keys were excellent -they bulge outward, which makes them extremely easy to punch - even with large hands! Again, I was a little slow to get comfortable typing, but, as before, I soon became accustomed to the keypad’s layout. I also liked that the Backspace key bulged out more than the rest of the keys - a great feature that helped me find a very important key! While typing, I noticed the high quality of the keys; the diNovo Mini feels good in the sense that typing is completely fluid and solid. All of the normal function and shortcut keys worked - even the Ctrl-Alt-Del function! The right-click also serves as a function key, and it was little more cumbersome than I'd like it to be, but it was sufficient. These function keys are very handy, especially the Ctrl-Alt-Del function and media hotkeys.

Since I was doing this in the dark - as if I were watching a movie at the theater - I loved the diNovo’s backlight, which saved me from searching around for the right key! I watched a movie on my HTPC, and when I wanted to pause it or turn down the volume, all I had to do was grab the diNovo, open it up, and bam – the backlit keypad helped me find the right button immediately! My only gripe with the backlight is that it fades out - when I was only using the touchpad, the keypad lights shut off, but when I wanted to punch in a few characters, I couldn’t see them! The only way to activate the light on the keypad was to punch a key, but that key then appeared on the screen and needed to be deleted! That was somewhat annoying, but it was really a fairly minor issue.

As for the remote’s range, I could walk around my entire living room and got excellent reception. Unless you have a gigantic screen that requires people to sit extremely far away, the diNovo would be perfect. Battery life was also great; the remote didn’t die on me once, even after hours of continuous use. Of course, I plugged it in to the charger every once in awhile to make sure it wouldn’t quit on me.

Conclusion:

Well, I have to say that I love this remote! The diNovo Mini’s construction, design, and ease of use were absolutely extraordinary! The Logitech diNovo Mini is light, solid, sturdy, and looks great! Above all else, the backlights are just awesome! Never before have I had the full functionality of a big keyboard in the palm of my hand. The diNovo easily has every conceivable key and function necessary to run a full-fledged PC or HTPC!

The Logitech diNovo Mini does have its faults, though. I had to hit a key to activate the keypad backlight, and that key was then registered on the screen. Also, as with any device, the diNovo has a small learning curve and the somewhat cumbersome style of the ClickPad may aggravate those who despise laptop touchpads. It is also a little expensive for a remote, but it's worth it if you're looking for one of the ultimate Media Center remotes on the market!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: