When I reviewed Logitech’s diNovo Edge Mac Edition last fall, the biggest complaints about that otherwise-excellent keyboard were its price ($160) and its lack of a numeric keypad. Logitech has addressed those concerns—albeit at the cost of a few of the Edge’s most flashy features—with the diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition
. This less-expensive keyboard’s confusingly similar name hints at the similarities between the two models, an affinity that makes the non-Edge diNovo among the best keyboards I’ve used.
Take the Edge off
Like the Edge, the standard diNovo Mac features an aluminum wrist rest that tapers gently to avoid sharp edges, but the diNovo omits the Edge’s more-expensive plexiglass casing in favor of glossy-black plastic. The diNovo also loses the Edge’s touch-sensitive TouchDisc and volume controllers, and eliminates the Edge’s dedicated media keys by moving their functionality to alternate functions of the F-keys (covered below). Finally, instead of the Edge’s Bluetooth wireless and built-in rechargeable battery, the standard diNovo uses RF wireless and requires four AA batteries. These changes allow Logitech to offer the diNovo for $60 less than the Edge.
But it’s not all sacrifice. Compared to the Edge, the standard diNovo also gains some features—namely, a full numeric keypad, as well as seven additional programmable F-keys. Yet despite these extra keys, as well as a more-standard key layout—the diNovo is only an inch wider than the Edge, and nearly two inches shorter from front to back (17 inches wide and 6.8 inches deep). It’s quite compact for a full-size keyboard and has a comfortable, low profile. The back edge of the diNovo is raised slightly to accommodate the battery compartment.
Right on keys
Like the Edge, the diNovo uses Logitech’s PerfectStroke keys, which have a unique mechanism that’s somewhere between the dome-style keys traditionally found on desktop keyboards and the scissor-style keys used by most laptops. The result is low-profile keys that are a bit thicker than laptop keys but require less travel (the distance you have to push a key for it to be recognized) than desktop keys. The keys are among the best I’ve used on any keyboard, providing a near-perfect combination of initial resistance, key travel, and tactile response, with slightly concave tops adding a good tactile feel. I also like that the modifier keys and space bar are slightly thicker than other keys; these thicker keys are easier to press, which is especially helpful—and reduces strain—when executing keyboard shortcuts.
The diNovo includes the full complement of standard keys, all in their expected locations. My only layout complaint is that, like Apple’s recent keyboards, the diNovo takes the F1 through F12 keys, as well as the escape and eject keys, and mashes them into a single, uninterrupted line that’s flush with the top row of the main keyboard area. (Touch-typists generally prefer the traditional layout, which splits the F-keys into groups of four and separates the F-key row from the main keyboard area.) On the other hand, because of this compact arrangement, Logitech has been able to squeeze in seven additional function keys, F13 through F19; the first three are located above fn, home, and page up, respectively, with the last four above the numeric keypad.
Make it personal
The other standout feature of the diNovo Mac is that all but two of the 19 F-keys—the exceptions being F5 and F6—have special alternate functions. With Logitech’s software installed, these keys (from left to right) adjust brightness down and up; invoke Expose; activate Dashboard; control media playback (back, play/pause, forward); mute/unmute volume; adjust volume down and up; activate Cover Flow; activate Quick Look; invoke Spaces; and open iTunes, Mail, Safari, and Calculator. As with Apple’s keyboards, you can choose whether or not these actions require the use of the fn key, which is located just to the right of the delete key.
The Logitech software also lets you customize the actions of F1 through F6 and F13 through F19 (the volume and media-playback keys, F7 through F12, cannot be customized). Each can be configured as a keystroke, a modifier key, any of the special functions listed above, or one of a number of other options: opening a program, document, folder, or URL; taking a screenshot; switching applications; or zooming the screen. If you’d like keys to do different things in different programs, you can set up program-specific settings. Over several months of daily use with a Mac Pro and a MacBook, Logitech’s software worked flawlessly.
The Logitech software, which appears as a preference pane in System Preferences, also lets you display a capslock indicator in the menu bar and/or a brief onscreen graphic whenever the capslock key is activated or deactivated. Finally, the software shows the keyboard’s current battery level. Although the keyboard has a physical power switch for conserving battery power, even without turning off the unit, the battery on our review unit was still 2/3 full after several months of use.
Because the keyboard uses RF wireless, there’s no setup; you simply plug the included RF receiver into a USB port on your Mac and the keyboard is instantly recognized.
Macworld’s buying advice
The diNovo Mac Edition may look like a basic keyboard, but its combination of outstanding key feel, a low profile, reliable wireless connectivity, a slew of programmable F-keys, and an attractive design make it one of the best keyboards on the market for Mac users. In fact, in many ways I’ve come to prefer it over Logitech’s flagship diNovo Edge, which won an input-device Eddy last year.
Dan Frakes is a Macworld senior editor.