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Reviews

Logitech diNovo Mini

By Brandon Miniman August 11, 2008, 12:56 am


INTRODUCTION

So you’re a road warrior, and recently got a media-centric laptop to take with you on your travels. Perfect, except that when it’s time to set the laptop on a table and kick back on the hotel bed to watch the latest episode of The Office from Hulu, controlling playback or searching for other videos requires you to get out of your comfortable position and go over to your computer. The Logitech diNovo Mini may be just what you’re looking for. Read on for more!


WHAT’S HOT

The diNovo Mini is a palm-sized keyboard/mouse combination that uses Bluetooth 2.0 to remotely control a desktop or laptop computer from up to 30 feet away. It also works with PlayStation 3. It’s optimized for use with Windows Media Center because it has buttons to make navigation easier, but if you’re not using Media Center and just viewing various types of multimedia on your big screen or laptop, you can use the device to control any aspect of your computer. The user-replaceable and rechargeable battery is a nice 940mAh size which means that you won’t have to charge the device but once a month, depending on usage of course. The diNovo Mini has an ambient light sensor which will turn on the keyboard backlighting in dark conditions. The device has two pointer modes – D-Pad, and Mouse – and uses green or red backlighting (respectively) to indicate the mode.


SETUP

I should note that this device does not work with Mac OS X. The setup on a Windows Vista computer was very easy. I plugged the Bluetooth dongle into a USB port (note: if you’re using a PlayStation 3 or computer with inbuilt Bluetooth, you won’t have to use the adapter), waited about a minute for the computer to find the drivers on the internet, then switched on the keyboard by opening the lid. Immediately I had full remote control of the mouse pointer, and could enter text with the keyboard. If you want to use the software to access some of the more advanced functionality, which takes up a modest 7kb of memory running as a background process, you can proceed to install the software from the included CD. More on the software later.


PRODUCT FEATURES


The box comes in Logitech green.

Inside the box we have a user guide, SetPoint installation software, AC adapter, Bluetooth 2.0 adapter, the diNovo Mini, and a cleaning cloth to wipe away fingerprints.

    The device is incredibly sleek, and is 152mm wide and 27.5mm thick. It’s also quite light at 7g or 0.25oz. To access the keyboard, you lift open the cover, which will also turn the device on from standby (good power management!). The cover is a fingerprint magnet, and Logitech was smart to include the cleaning cloth.

    When you flip open the cover, the lights on the perimeter will illuminate, and, if it’s dark, the keyboard backlight will come on. The pad in the upper right has two modes: D-Pad and Mouse. Red indicates Mouse mode. In this mode, we can move the mouse cursor around simply by touching the illuminated circle, much like a touchpad on a laptop computer. To click, you press inwards, or you can use the click/OK button on the upper left. To change the mode, you flip the toggle switch to the right of the Logitech logo.

Here we are in D-Pad mode, indicated by the green coloring. This mode is better suited towards use with Media Center, where you don’t need the precision of a mouse, but rather, the quickness of a D-Pad.

    Close up on the keyboard, we get a better view of the illumination. The keys are large enough for comfortable text entry. The keyboard is similar in shape and layout to that of the HTC TyTN II/AT&T Tilt. In addition to having a dedicated Media Center launch button, the keyboard also has CTRL+ALT+DEL, zoom, page up/down, and brightness buttons. There are three programmable function keys.

The clean design is continued onto the back where we have a piece of rubber to hold the device in place on a table top.

    Opening the back, we find the 930mAh battery, plus slot for the Bluetooth adapter. If you’re using a desktop, the adapter will probably be plugged into your computer most of the time. But if you have a laptop, you’ll appreciate being able to stow the adapter in the back of the unit.

As you can tell by now, the unit is quite compact.


SOFTWARE

    If you own a Logitech mouse or keyboard, you’ll probably recognize this interface. Here in the first screen, we can set mouse pointer speed and acceleration, add mouse trails, or turn on Smart Move so that the cursor jumps to the action button on a dialogue box.

Using the software, you can customize three function buttons.

And finally, the software lets you monitor how much battery is remaining.

HELP SUPPORT
    With plug and play setup, the diNovo Mini is very easy to use. I think my grandmother could figure it out. Included is a manual that helps explain device operation further.


BUGS AND WISHES

As with most electronics that are shiny, the diNovo Mini quickly picks up fingerprints on the glossy black cover. That’s to be expected.

    Logitech’s Harmony remote products come with a charging cradle which makes it simple to charge up the battery once it’s drained. I’d like to see a similar solution on the diNovo Mini, even though the battery will last you about a month. I don’t want to have to fish for an AC power adapter.

    A finally, the unit is still a bit pricey. The alternative to this is a wireless remote, or a wireless keyboard/mouse, all of which can be had for less than a diNovo Mini.


PURCHASING

The MSRP of the diNovo Mini is $149.99, but Amazon currently has it for $130.99 with free shipping.


PROS


Clean, attractive design

  • High-quality hardware
  • Excellent battery life
  • Uses Bluetooth 2.0
  • Simple setup


CONS


  • Fingerprint magnet

  • No charging cradle
  • Windows/PS3 only
  • A bit pricey
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
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OVERALL IMPRESSION

This is a well-done product that I think the growing number of people using their computer as a multimedia center will appreciate. The diNovo Mini is easy to use, made of high quality materials, and is an excellent alternative to using a bulky wireless keyboard or mouse to control a computer. Or, if you’re on the road a lot and enjoy using your laptop as a multimedia center, you’ll appreciate the mobility that the diNovo Mini affords.

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