Thursday, November 05, 2009

Quick Takes: Logitech DiNovo Mini

When I connected up a PC to a wall-mounted television in a sunroom that I had built earlier this year, I knew that I needed something to control it with.

Using a configuration that required a separate mouse wasn’t a good option as I didn’t have a hard surface near where I would normally view from. The Lenovo ThinkPad UltraNav keyboard would have been an interesting option but there isn’t a wireless version. Remote control from another computer was and is another possibility but I also wanted something that I could just directly control the computer with. (And I know there are some iPhone applications but I didn’t yet have an iPhone at the time.)

What I settled on was the Logitech diNovo Mini. This 6-inch by 3.5-inch handheld keyboard and pad isn't perfect but it’s a pretty good option for a home theatre PC so long as you don’t intend to do lots of typing. It’s a lot more functional as a keyboard than a typical remote control is but you’re not going to want to compose long emails and the like.

What I like:

  • It’s small and stylish with a smoked plastic flip-down lid. It won’t look out of place sitting on a coffee table.
  • It has a mode for directly controlling Windows Media Center
  • The integrated pointer control works well
  • The thumb pad works pretty well for entering URLs and other relatively short strings or blocks of text

What I don’t like:

  • It’s relatively pricey with a list price of $150
  • As I noted, it’s basically a thumb keyboard, albeit a relatively large one, so you’re not going to be banging away like on a regular keyboard
  • Right click and dragging operations are more awkward than they would ideally be

Bottom line: If you can live without having a “real” keyboard and just want something unobtrusive to easily pull up YouTube and Hulu videos and the like, it’s a good, if premium, choice.

Here's another more detailed review of the DiNovo Mini. I concur with most of his comments, especially with respect to mouse operations.

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