Logitech has recently updated its successful diNovo range with a model for Apple Macs and a slimline number for notebooks. We’ve had the latter on test to see whether it can truly improve on the usability and features of a laptop’s own keyboard.
First off we were extremely impressed by the design. It’s about as slim as you could expect a comfortable keyboard to be and is finished in a stylish piano black with a brushed aluminium wrist-rest. It takes three AAA batteries, which are supplied, and Logitech claims that these will last up to three years, depending on usage. An on/off power switch at the top will help with economy but there are no other controls aside from conventional keys.
Luckily there don’t need to be, since getting it connected to a laptop simply involves plugging in the supplied 2.4GHz wireless dongle and waiting a few seconds for Windows to detect and install the drivers before the keyboard is ready to go.
It uses Logitech’s PerfectStroke system for comfortable, silent typing and there’s no doubting the quality of the design in terms of the responsiveness of individual keys. Unfortunately it does take a bit of time to get used to the layout. Commonly used keys like left-shift and tab are rather small and the fact that they run right to the edge of the casing means that hand position for accurate typing does feel a little unnatural to begin with. This is a relatively minor point as things did improve for us over time, though there is a definite period of adjustment required.
As well as a full-sized QWERTY keyboard the diNovo for Notebooks offers a full numeric keypad, dual-function F-keys and dedicated media controls. There are some shortcuts for adjusting and muting volume, opening the calculator and ejecting a disc, but each of the F-keys can also be reconfigured from the default shortcuts for tasks such as e-mail, web browsing and media controls.
Innovatively, Logitech allows you to do this directly from the keyboard by holding down the ‘Function’ key along with the key you want to reconfigure. Its SetPoint software is then opened automatically and you’re given the option of reassigning the relevant key (the calculator key can also be reassigned) to any of a wide range of other functions.
Sadly there’s no on-board mouse control. Logitech recommends using one of its range of wireless mice with the keyboard to avoid having to reach for the notebook’s touchpad and at this price we were a little suprised not to see a wireless mouse or at least provision for one in the box. This is an added expense on a setup that’s already quite pricey and it would have been nice to see an all-in-one solution provided.
This is, in fact, our main issue with the diNovo keyboard. It certainly isn’t cheap and, while the slim design and PerfectStroke operation is appealing, it won’t be a big enough improvement to justify the price for most. If your notebook’s existing keyboard is particularly uncomfortable or you really need a separate numeric keypad then it’s certainly very capable, but with no mouse or mouse-control supplied you could end up paying close to £100 for a full wireless setup.
Alternatives are available for a fraction of this and we don’t think the slim design justifies paying this much for what is a rather over-extravagant solution to a relatively minor problem.
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