by Marina Volkova
11/22/2005 | 07:35 PM
When you are getting ready for a real or virtual trip, do not forget to get a comfortable hotel room, a functional and reliable laptop and take good care of your hands: they need to enjoy this trip as much as you will, no matter if you are traveling for business or for pleasure. And where could you get this comfort? Our today’s hero is exactly the solution you are looking for: it offers flexibility, comfort and efficient work with various computer applications.
Please meet: Logitech diNovo Cordless Desktop Kit for Notebooks!
Logitech products have always represented the latest technology. However, their other important strength is outstanding exterior designs. Our today’s hero is just another proof to this statement.
Here is a brief technical specification of the kit and the contents of the bundle you get with it:
Cordless keyboard with a numeric pad, is bundled
Type of wireless connection
Number of keys
Keyboard: 88 main keys, 8 additional keys, 4-pocition joystick
2 standard buttons, a scrolling wheel
Keyboard: two AA batteries
Numeric pad is equipped with an LCD panel
Keyboard, numeric pad, mouse, receiver, USB cable, 6 AA batteries,
Logitech (http://www.logitech.com )
The keyboard is designed in silver-and-black gamma: the working area is made of slightly rubberized black plastic, and the frame is lightly silver. But it is not only the colors that are good about this product. The keyboard is extremely lightweight and thin, which makes it very easy to work with especially if you are holding it on your knees or suspended.
The keys on this Logitech keyboard look very much like the regular laptop keys: they are very close to one another and sit very low. The keys feature very short stroke distance and little resistance, so that you can confirm the key stroke “manually”.
Multimedia keyboards have become very common among computer users, so the Logitech keyboard we are talking about today looks kind of too modest without all those numerous additional “convenient” keys for quick launch of multimedia and office applications. But this is just the first impression. And here is the first designer trick: the multimedia controls are located not above the functional keys as on most multimedia keyboards, but in the lower right corner of the keyboard, i.e. right at hand, in the direct meaning of this word :) This way you can launch and operate your media applications blindly, without getting distracted from work.
At the top of the keyboard on the right-hand side you can find volume control keys, which is also a pretty convenient location, I should say.
I believe you will agree that it is a pretty ergonomic solution for a busy office user or internet surfer.
On the left-hand side in the upper corner of the keyboard there are quick launch buttons for the internet browser, e-mail client and search page. The stand-by mode switch is also there. This button is slightly pressed into the keyboard panel, so that you could avoid pressing it accidentally during work.
The next ergonomic design trick is the way you switch the mode on the functional keys. In the “F” mode these keys are assigned their traditional functions, however if you enable “F-Lock” mode you will be able to manipulate the e-mail functions, work with the printer, navigate between some basic folders, such as My Computer, My Documents, My Pictures and My Music.
It makes the user’s life a lot easier: you definitely use the Reply function in your e-mail a lot more than the functional F2 key, for instance. Besides, your favorite music and pictures are just one key stroke away.
The location of the office applications controls is quite common: above the cursor arrow keys, just like on most of the keyboards out there.
Now that I have highlighted the positive features of the keyboard, let me point out one of the major drawbacks that I discovered while working with it. I believe that the “Enter” key is a way too small. I kept missing it and would hit either BackSpace or Shift instead.
Well, I haven’t yet mentioned one of the major peculiarities of the DiNovo keyboard that distinguishes it from most other solutions out there: the keyboard is actually split in two: the main keyboard and the numeric pad.
The numeric pad also has all the necessary multimedia controls and volume control keys. This logical solution turns the numeric pad into a remote control unit for multimedia applications. Of course, this is not the only application you can find for this keyboard, but probably the most interesting one.
The second function of the numeric pad is to serve as a calculator. Yes, you can use it as a light-weight compact calculator. And the most beautiful thing about using the numeric pad as a calculator is the opportunity to save the results in the clipboard. If you work in EXCEL a lot, you are going to love this feature.
And the last, relatively common function is to serve as a numeric pad of a regular keyboard. However, Logitech designers applied all their creativity even to the implementation of such a boring function. A small LCD display at the top of the numeric pad displays room temperature, date, time and a low battery warning when appropriate. If you always forget to charge your cell phone or replace a battery in your alarm clock, this friendly reminder will be a life saver for you. Of course, since all the mobile solutions are only really needed when they have enough battery life, otherwise they are worthless.
The simplest device in this entire kit is definitely the mouse. It is a cordless optical mouse for notebooks with only two control buttons and a scrolling wheel. Very simple and very functional: all you need from a mouse.
The mouse is very light and sits very comfortably in the hand. By the way, if you are left-handed, this mouse will suit you two, as it has absolutely symmetric design with no special curves favoring the right-handed. This unified design is more like an advantage in this case: light weight and universality are a way more important for a portable solution like that. I don’t think gamers will be very happy about this mouse, but if you travel a lot and always have your laptop with you, you will not be disappointed with the Cordless Optical Mouse for Notebooks. Besides, you will get a nice little transportation bag for the mouse and the USB receiver.
The main keyboard, the numeric pad and the mouse are powered from 6 AA batteries: a pair of batteries for each of the devices.
If you turn the main keyboard upside down, you will find a special section for the batteries. A similar section is located on the reverse side of the numeric pad, and the remaining two batteries go right under the top mouse cover.
By the way, the mouse features a power switch, so that you could turn it off before you depart and thus save some battery life. This power saving option is a definite advantage of the Logitech solution.
Unlike the Logitech diNovo Media Desktop 2.0 kit that works via the Bluetooth interface, our today’s hero works through a regular radio channel. The kit is connected to the computer via a mini-USB receiver. The receiver looks very similar to a common USB flash drive, it is practically as small and light as any of these devices.
There is a also a special vertical stand bundled with the kit, so that you could use the keyboards and mouse with a regular desktop.
The receiver works at up to 5 meters distance, which is quite OK for an apartment or a small office. By the way, in an office you can have several kits installed to increase the reception area.
By pressing and holding the calculator launch key on the numeric pad and a Ctrl+Alt+F12 combination on the main keyboard you can tie up the kit to a specific machine. This way you enter the encoding mode based on the key generated by special software supplied with the kit. This is also a very convenient solution if you are planning to set up a home network with a desktop and a laptop and are going to have two Logitech kits working.
Logitech diNovo Cordless Desktop Kit for Notebooks includes Logitech SetPoint and Logitech MediaLife software.
The user can also work with the kit without installing any additional software, however, in this case most of the unique features will not be available.
SetPoint tool is responsible for adjusting the main keyboard settings, numeric pad settings and mouse settings. And the MediaLife tool allows the user to work with all media content in an easy and efficient way. The interface of these utilities is very simple and doesn’t require any specific knowledge to navigate through successfully.
Let me get a little bit more into details about these tools, still.
In fact, SetPoint tool consists of two parts: QuickTour (it will guide you through the major functions of your keyboard) and Settings (here you will be able to change certain specific key functions according to your needs). The Settings menu includes the following options:
And any time you feel like you got lost, you can check out the help menu and find answers to all your questions there. The help system is very convenient and extensive.
MediaLife tool helps manage all your multimedia content: video, audio and image files.
The Pictures menu allows you to sort out images by date or file name; perform some basic modifications, such as image rotation, start a slide show or just look through the pictures on the system hard drive or CD disk.
You can control the speed of the slide show by setting the pause length between the slides, you can change the special effects on transition from one slide to another and play the music in the background.
All audio files can also be sorted out by albums, artist, genre, or playlist preferences. The same is true for the video files. You can also listen to web radio and there is very convenient interface for radio settings too. Besides, you can set the screen mode in the Parameters menu to 4:3 or wide screen.
The software bundle also includes a MUSICMATCH MP3 player, which looks very similar to Winamp.
In my humble opinion, the best test for a portable keyboard like that is real practice. So, I can assure you that from my own experience it is an extremely convenient and easy to use solution. This particular review was written using the Logitech diNovo Cordless Desktop Kit for Notebooks and I don’t think I will be able to give it up now. Light weight, stylish looks, the whole bunch of additional features and user friendly interface, will turn your laptop into a portable entertainment center, which will be an irreplaceable companion on the road.