Saturday, May 2, 2009

The diNovo Edge is a nice keyboard for HTPC

I just bought a Logitech diNovo Edge Mac Edition keyboard for my Mac Mini HTPC.

I bought the diNovo instead of the Apple Bluetooth keyboard because:
  1. Built-in trackpad.
  2. Built in volume control slider.
  3. Dedicated media transport controls.
  4. Nifty dock / recharger stand.
It's my first Bluetooth device. So far I think Bluetooth works a lot better than IR, because you don't have to point it at an IR receiver.

The diNovo does have some flaws:
  • No key backlighting, which makes it hard to use in the dark.
  • The mouse buttons below the trackpad are mushy and hinged at the outer edges, making them hard to press. (Happily tapping works and there is a separete left-mouse-button on the left edge of the keyboard. So for typical Mac usage you don't need to use the mushy buttons.)
  • A skim of the Logitech support forums indicates that the function keys are not as programmable as some people wish. I don't use function keys that much so this hasn't been an issue for me yet.
My TV is a 40" LCD, and I sit about 15 feet away from it. At this distance the 1920 x 1280 desktop is just too high resolution for my eyes, so I reduced my screen resolution to 1366 x 720. That seems to work well for now. Apparently I need to get a bigger TV :-)

Using a keyboard/trackpad instead of a button-based remote control is nice. I like being able to use all the ordinary apps that I already know how to use, rather than have to learn a new set of apps and UI commands. I also like not having to switch input devices depending upon what I'm trying to do. (For example if I want to use a web browser to look up some fact about a video that I just watched, it just works.)

The diNovo is very smartly designed, so that it's easy to use the mouse while holding the keyboard in two hands. Of course I'm a right hander. A left hander might have a different opinion, as the trackpad is located where it can be used easily with the right hand, but not the left hand.

What about Linux?

I have been able to use the same keyboard with both Mac and Kubuntu 9.04. With Kubuntu there were some issues around the initial pairing: You need a working keyboard and mouse in order to pair a new Bluetooth device. You even need to reboot once, and answer one final dialog box using a working keyboard / mouse, before the new device pairing is complete.

A second issue for HTPC use is that the Mac Mini video driver on Kubuntu does not have the flexability to slightly lower the resolution of the screen. I blame Intel for this, as they are in the middle of converting to a new driver model and their current drivers are pretty bare bones.

One final issue for dual booting Mac systems is that it seems to take a while for the keyboard to reconnect after a restart. This is an issue if you have reFit installed and you're trying to send keystrokes to reFit during the reboot. I found I had to press multiple keys multiple times until reFit started recognizing keys, after which the keyboard acted normally.

1 comment:

J. Peterson said...

One final issue for dual booting Mac systems is that it seems to take a while for the keyboard to reconnect after a restart.This seems to be a Mac hiccup in general. I always have to unplug/plug my Prodikeys keyboard and fiddle with the control panel every time I boot my MacBook Pro from Windows to Mac OS.