Schwag bags and hangovers aren’t the only things we brought back from CES. We also got a stowaway in the form of Logitech’s diNovo Mini. Cracking open its stylish, black clamshell revealed everything we’ve ever wanted in a keyboard/remote hybrid: A full QWERTY layout, dedicated media buttons, and a mini trackpad. Paired with its rechargeable lithium-ion battery and Bluetooth connectivity, the Mini should’ve been the Holy Grail for home theater PC controllers. Unfortunately, when it came to pairing that style with actual functionality, Logitech balances things …poorly.
Logitech had the right idea in bringing the keyboard to the living room, and that’s where the Mini truly shines. Although it feels more like a Blackberry than a traditional QWERTY, the Mini’s rubberized keys were easy to navigate and responsive. Switching from movies to IMing was as simple as hitting the pause key, using the trackpad to navigate to the IM window, and then typing away. But at a little over six inches wide, you’re not going to be clocking Mavis Beacon speeds. We found that the best strategy for hammering out URLs and short messages was using our thumbs.
When it came to web surfing and other tasks that relied heavily on the trackpad, we hit a few bumps. The good news is that the trackpad can be toggled into two modes: One for basic “up-down-left-right” movement, and another for traditional analog control. We had little trouble with the simple quad-directional interface, but that’s probably because we only found it useful for navigating Media Center menus. However, the analog control was much more finicky, requiring a lot of sensitivity tweaks to pull off semi-advanced moves like clicking and dragging icons. Setbacks like these make it clear that the Mini is a niche home theater device first, and a mouse/keyboard replacement second. On top of its triple digit price point, it looks like we’ll stick to walking across the room to press our buttons.