When we first played with the Logitech diNovo Mini, we loved the concept and it looked like it solved all our Media Center remote issues as it features a mouse and a QWERTY keyboard in a small and elegant package that can actually stay on the living room table without looking bad. In this review we will give you our verdict about the strengths and the weaknesses of this device and we will tell you whether or not you should get one.
The diNovo Mini connects to the PC via Bluetooth. Even if your computer is equipped with a Bluetooth receiver, we recommend using the USB dongle that is provided in the box. It is easier because it is pre-paired with the remote, so upon connection, it will find the remote by itself, without requiring you to discover it “by hand”.
And voila! The remote should work, but if you want to customize additional shortcuts, you will have to install SetPoint, the software provided by Logitech.
Unlike infra-red (IR) remotes, the diNovo Mini does not need to be pointed at the receiver and does not stop working if something (or someone) is in the way. We tested at a distance of 7 yards (about 7 meters) and it worked fine.
While Windows Media Center is mostly OK using a traditional remote, I have to admit that I sometimes like using the living room computer for a quick search, change some settings, show something to a friend, or even search a movie by title in Media Center. That gives me plenty of reasons for wanting to have a full keyboard and a mouse, without the bulk of a traditional set. The diNovo Mini is a very good solution for that. If you like QWERTY smart phones, you will like this keyboard.
The mouse function could be better: the motion is choppy and it might test someone with little patience. I suspect that it’s because the mouse pad has a double purpose: it can be used as digital direction buttons and as a mouse pad. Also, the pad surface is very small, so the cursor has to accelerate quickly, leading to choppiness.
From my point of view, the only big mistake is the lack of media center “guide” button. I use that one all the time. Fortunately, I solved this by assigning the “guide” function to the FN+Music combination, but it is weird that a Media Center remote does not have such a guide button. Unlike many remotes, this one is backlit and it is smart: if you are only using the controls, the QWERTY section is not lit until you touch the keyboard. It is good for the eyes and it saves the battery to some extent.
In the end, our experience with the diNovo Mini has been excellent. It is everything that we wanted in a Media Center controller and it is the perfect blend between a remote, a keyboard and mouse, in a beautiful package that looks good on the coffee table. Of course, it has a few shortcomings, but there is nothing else like it on the market today.
If you are happy with your traditional MCE remote, or if you are OK with hiding your keyboard and mouse under the couch, there is no need to upgrade. However, if you are a moderate mouse and keyboard user on your living room PC, you should definitely take a look at the diNovo Midi. It costs around $150 (search price)