Reviews

The Logitech DiNovo Mini keyboard


The Logitech DiNovo Mini is a small Bluetooth keyboard weighing in at under 170 grams and measuring approximately 9x15x2 cm. It's purpose is to provide a portable, lightweight and wireless keyboard for machines that you wouldn't normally want a full size keyboard to be connected to, such as a Playstation3 or a media PC you might have sitting under your TV on the far side of your living room.

DiNovo
The DiNovo Mini, open and with Bluetooth receiver



The DiNovo Mini is an attractive black/silver clamshell design and opening the semi translucent cover switches the keyboard on. The keys have an orange backlight and the keyboard design is similar to the HTC Universal WM5 device that was floating around a couple of years ago. Besides the orange backlighting, a red/green Bluetooth indicator shows connectivity/pairing status while a red/green battery indicator shows the status of the 830mAh Li-ion battery. A touch sensitive pad provides mouse control so the Mini is actually two devices in one.Tactile feedback of the keys is nice with just enough travel and a physical 'click'. The keys are close together and it is easy to hit the wrong one accidentally but the Mini is designed as a thumb keyboard and when used in this way accuracy can be good.

DiNovo illuminated
Backlighting on the DiNovo Mini



Charging of the internal battery is quick and the manual claims a ten minute charge will provide a day of use. I think Logitech have missed a trick here as an 8V mains adaptor is required to charge the 3.7V battery which means if you're going to be out and about with the thing you have another mains charger to lug around with you. I think Logitech should have designed the DiNovo Mini to have been charged via USB and supplied it with a USB charge lead instead of a mains adaptor. While charging may have taken longer, it would have surely brought the price down and made the Mini more flexible and portable.

DiNovo closed
The DiNovo Mini with it's clamshell case closed



The DiNovo Mini comes supplied with a USB receiver. Simply plug it into any computer (Apple, Windows, Linux), or into your PS3 and it will pair up with the Mini simply by pushing the 'connect' button on both the receiver and the keyboard. Logitech say the Mini works best if the supplied receiver is used however the Mini can pair with standard Bluetooth chipsets so if your computer is equipped with Bluetooth or you're a bit short on available USB ports on your computer/Playstation then you can pair it up without having to use the supplied receiver.

For test purposes, I had my keyboard paired with both my eeePC and Intrepid laptop using my eeePC Bluetooth mod and my Trust ultra small adaptor respectively. On these Linux devices, so long as bluez-utils is installed, the command sudo hidd --search will allow the computer to find and connect to the Mini with no trouble (at least on a temporary basis although this needs to be repeated with the Mini in Discover mode when next powered on). On Intrepid the hidd command was not found and I had to install bluez-compat for it to work. The supplied Bluetooth receiver works with no extra faffing around – just plug and play. Logitech state that using the supplied receiver will improve accuracy and it does seem to make a difference with the mouse control which can otherwise be a little choppy at times. It's a shame that the supplied receiver will only talk to the Mini however and cant be used as a standard Bluetooth receiver in it's own right. If you end up using your built-in Bluetooth then the DiNovo receiver is effectively redundant and cannot be used for anything else.

The 'pair' button is located in the battery compartment of the DiNovo Mini although I would have preferred it if pairing had been through a key combination as having to pop the battery cover every time you want to pair it with another device seems a bit daft. The same goes for the PC/PS3 toggle switch which needs to be set depending on what you're using the DiNovo Mini for. I will probably want to use it with both a PC and my PS3 so having to pop off the battery cover every time I want to make the change is a bit annoying.

There is another toggle switch located on the keyboard side which allows the keyboard to enter 'Media Remote Mode'. This changes the orange backlight to green and alters the functions of the keyboard to allow it to control a PC running Windows Media Center offering functions such as channel changing. I don't have such a machine so I can't try this out but Remote Mode is also useful if using a Linux PC as it changes the function of the trackpad into cursor keys allowing navigation of a command line cursor. For quick toggle between Remote and Cursor modes, the Function key can also be held down.

It would have been nice if the Mini was compatible with mobile devices. I was evaluating it as a possible external keyboard for the Blackberry Storm but although it happily pairs with my test Storm and my trusty E90, neither will accept typed input from it. Similarly, Windows buttons are provided on the keyboard but there are no Apple specific keys so while it should work on a Mac, you won't have the full functionality of an Apple keyboard.

The price tag for the Mini is high at around £80 and I don't really see how it justifies that price point. Had it been more flexible allowing USB charging, easier pairing/switching on the fly, mobile/full Apple compatibility and greater flexibility with it's supplied Bluetooth receiver then it would be worth the investment. As it is, there are alternatives at half the price, albeit none that I've seen that are as small or stylish as the DiNovo Mini.

The DiNovo Mini is, in my opinion, a good product that could have been great, however in my opinion there is just a little too much spice in it's price considering it's idiosyncrasies and limitations.