Many people (myself included) enjoy having a lovely home theatre experience. Many you have an expensive HDTV, perhaps with an expensive wall mount. Often this is accompanied by expensive audio hardware, game consoles, movie players, et cetera. One of the best additions you can make to your home theatre is an HTPC (Home Theatre Personal Computer) for all your music, movies, photographs, and PVR needs. These all in one solutions can be great and many are built to hide in plain sight, blending in with the rest of your home theatre rather than screaming ‘hey look, this guy has a computer hooked up to his TV!’
Once in a while you would need to use a mouse and keyboard with your HTPC to, say, perform maintenance or other activities not possible with a mere remote control. Sure you can get a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse but where do you put them when not in use and how convenient are they really? Having a keyboard on your coffee table really takes away from that minimalist look and hiding it in a closet when not in use can be annoying those times when you need it. Enter the diNovo Mini. I little handheld keyboard specifically made for the HTPC crowd.
The diNovo Mini is pretty small (as ‘mini would imply’) being roughly the size of your hand. With it’s lid closed it can sit on your coffee table discretely waiting for use. The lid acts as a spill guard and as switch turning the unit off when not in use. Once you flip open it’s translucent lid you’ll notice that all the keys are backlit. The backlighting is colour coded too depending on which mode the unit is set to. The full QWERTY keyboard is aligned to a grid with good tactile articulation between keys making it easy to thumb-type. It also has media specific keys (play, stop, volume, etc) and a combination directional pad and touchpad which thankfully eliminates the need for a mouse.
Battery life is pretty good and it charges reasonably fast but it does not have a dock of any kind – it charges with your usual AC power adapter plug which may not be a terribly elegant solution. Not everyone would want a dock for it but it would be a nice option for those electing it. The USB receiver looks like a typical USB flash drive and can be stored inside the keyboard if desired, though that desire is unlikely to ever arise given the sedentary nature of HTPCs.
The Big Picture
The whole thing seems well thought out and designed though. It’s definitely not for everyone but for those who need this sort of thing, it’s a great addition to their HTPC. It’s a little expensive but for those spending on HDTVs and HTPCs, another $150 for a discrete and convenient input device solution is pretty reasonable. Even the packaging is well designed using minimal plastic and presenting an easy and beautiful unpacking ritual. No oyster shell plastic here.
If you’ve already shelled out for a nice HTPC and like to blend in to the background yet want to have a keyboard and mouse handy for quick access the diNovo Mini is definitely worth a look. Not everyone has that problem but for those who do this little gem solves it delightfully. I found myself using the diNovo Mini instead of my actual IR Remote even – it was that pleasurable to use. Now my HTPC is invisible to guests – when I use this mini keyboard many still don’t even realize that I’m interacting with a computer. It’s a great way to refine the styling of your home theatre experience without sacrificing convenience and function. I’m usually able to come up with negative points for anything but this time I’m finding it tough. To avoid excessive gushing over this thing I’m trying hard to find complaints. An optional dock would be nice, a lower price would be nice, and it would be nice to have Xbox 360 support but other than that this thing is a beautifully elegant solution for any HTPC owner.