Hardware

Geek Gifts 2009: Logitech diNovo Mini keyboard with media remote

The Logitech diNovo Mini keyboard with media remote and ClickPad consolidates the mouse and keyboard of the media PC, into one wireless device - or at least that is what it tries to do.

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2009.

Technology geeks love their gadgets. And one of the areas of the home where this love of gadgetry is most evident is in the living/family room where multimedia is the predominant theme. Of course, with multimedia equipment including the television, stereo receiver, surround sound speakers, Xbox, Wii, Roku, DVD player, media PC, and whatever else there are enough power outlets for, there is a tendency to collect remote controls — lots of remote controls.

The Logitech diNovo Mini keyboard with media remote and ClickPad tries to consolidate some of those controllers, particularly the mouse and keyboard of the media PC, into one wireless device. It achieves this consolidation by incorporating a small keyboard with some media remote capabilities and a thumb pad, called the ClickPad, for navigation.

Specifications

  • Operating system: Windows XP or Vista (also compatible with Playstation 3)
  • Requirements: USB port
  • Navigation: Dual-purpose ClickPad works as a touch pad and a 4-way directional pad
  • Keyboard: Thumb-operated keypad design with 63 backlighted keys and backlighting for two modes — orange for touch-pad mode, green for media-center remote mode
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0 wireless technology
  • Dimensions: 152 mm by 90 mm by 27.5 mm (5.98-inch by 3.5-inch by 1.08-inch)
  • Cost: $149.99
  • Logitech diNovo Mini home page
  • TechRepublic Photo Gallery

What I like

  • Style: With its small palm-sized size and clamshell design, the diNovo Mini keyboard is aesthetically pleasing and would not conflict with most modern living room decors.
  • Bluetooth setup: Logitech is extremely good at making their devices easy to setup. With a special Bluetooth USB device, the diNovo Mini keyboard was a snap to setup. Insert the USB device into a computer and the keyboard is recognized and connected. Install the software from the CD that ships with the keyboard and you are up and running.
  • Backlight: The backlight on the keyboard is a great idea for the multimedia room, which is often dark while watching DVD movies. The backlight means the keys are visible without having to break the mood by turning on a light.

What I don't like

  • ClickPad: In concept, I like the ClickPad idea - a small pointing device for navigating the computer screen. However, the execution in this particular case is particularly lackluster. The ClickPad is too often unresponsive and the movement of your thumb may move the cursor all the way across the screen or in the opposite direction of what you intended - you really never know. A better pointing device would make the diNovo Mini keyboard much more useful.
  • Size: While the size is promoted as one of its best features, the diNovo Mini keyboard is actually wrong-sized. It is too big to effectively use just your thumbs to type and too small to use all of your fingers like a standard keyboard. Therefore, you end up typing with one finger, very slowly.
  • Missing market: While I understand the intention of the diNovo Mini keyboard, I really don't see much of a market for it. A small wireless keyboard and mouse would work just as well and some of the universal remotes would as well. In fact, I think either of those options work much better than the diNovo Mini keyboard. It is difficult for me to see why I'd prefer it.
  • Cost: At $149.99 suggested retail price, the diNovo is really way over priced for what you get.

Geek bottom line

The Logitech diNovo Mini keyboard with media remote and ClickPad has geek gadget credibility, but it is really a device looking for a market. With some improvements it might be a viable replacement for typical navigational devices attached to your multimedia PC, but in its current incarnation, it is not really worth the additional cost.

Geek gift score (out of a possible 5)

  • Fun factor: **
  • Geek factor: ***
  • Value: *
  • Overall: *

Check out the rest of the Geek Gifts for 2009.

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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