Wireless keyboard for a home theater PC?
November 26, 2009 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Please suggest a quality wireless (RF) keyboard that has an integrated touchpad, trackpoint or trackball for use with a home theater PC setup. There's a lot of different things available from Newegg ($35 to $150+) and the other usual sources, but I'm wondering about some first-hand experiences...

I'd like to keep the cost to the lower end of the price range if possible, without getting something that is a total piece of junk. It seems that wireless keyboards designed specifically for desktop use usually don't include a pointing device. I don't want to have a separate mouse and keyboard, the pointer should be integrated.
posted by thewalrus to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Whatever you buy, don't buy one of these. They're rebranded elsewhere for lower prices but they are extremely unreliable and the pointing pad is terrible.
posted by TimeDoctor at 1:24 AM on November 26, 2009

I use a Logitech diNovoEdge to great effect on my HTPC. It stores upright in the charger and doesn't take up too much space or look too horrible. It just about passes wife-approval for the living room.

If you want something slightly smaller, I've heard great things about the Logitech diNovo Mini too.

I'm not affiliated with Logitech in anyway, I just really like their keyboards. My everyday keyboard on my main machine is a Logitech diNovo Media Desktop which is still going strong after about 5 years.
posted by BOfH at 4:59 AM on November 26, 2009

Just realised you were talking in dollars, so:

diNovo Edge

diNovo Mini

diNovo Media Desktop

from Amazon.com instead of co.uk.
posted by BOfH at 5:01 AM on November 26, 2009

I have this keyboard and would advise against it as the mouse is awful. But I did see this recently which looks pretty good. No first hand experience on that one though.
posted by gfrobe at 5:45 AM on November 26, 2009

Yeah, I have that same MSFT keyboard gfrobe linked. The keyboard part is great, including the media keys, but that nipple-pointer thing is really, really bad.

I started to use Air Mouse from an iPhone for navigating and typing on my (Windows) Media PC now a couple of months ago, though, and now I barely pick up that keyboard anymore.

I love the Air Mouse thing so much that I'm going to get an iPod Touch just for this purpose soon.
posted by rokusan at 6:30 AM on November 26, 2009

If you have a laptop, you could also configure VNC on the theater PC, and then use a light VNC client on the laptop. It's a wireless keyboard / trackpad, and it comes bundled with a CPU for free!
posted by lexfri at 7:13 AM on November 26, 2009

I have an Adesso and would advise against it, as the trackpad doesn't work very well. I often have to lick my fingertip to get the trackpad to work. I'll be reading your thread with great interest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:12 AM on November 26, 2009

I've used the diNovo Mini for a few years with my ubuntu-based home theater and it's wonderful. Tiny, holds a charge for months at a time, nice range (30'). It's expensive, but it really does take all the fuss out of the computer-from-the-couch experience.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:37 AM on November 26, 2009

I've used the unit referenced by TimeDoctor and it was terrible. Mine was branded Adesso (and I think that's the manufacturer). Highly disrecommended.

I have had the diNovo Mini for a year and a half. Recommended. My experience is similar to to cowbellmoo. I also use it with Ubuntu. There were driver issues with 8.04 LTS but no trouble with later versions (currently using 9.04 without problems).

My one complaint about the dNM is that the trackpad and the cursor keys (as a controller-type pad) are the same "key"; it's a bit awkward to flip back and forth. It's not really that necessary though, if you're just using it as a media controller.
posted by bonehead at 10:10 AM on November 26, 2009

Logitech diNovo, period. Any of them. I've yet to use anything that comes close.
posted by bprater at 10:44 AM on November 26, 2009

I have a DiNovo Edge as a desktop keyboard, wonderful piece of hardware, though the trackpad isn't as good as the one on the DiNovo Mini in my opinio, buti f you want a full sized keyboard I can recommend it.

I used the mini on my Mac Mini HTPC for 2 years (before switching to another HTPC setup), great little device, unless you want to type a lot of text, then it quickly becomes annoying. For entering usernames / passwords and the occasional web address it's great and the battery lasts really long. I used an older, full sized Logitech wireless keyboard before and over time it just becomes annoying to drag it up from the floor or the table, you can't have it sitting on your couch next to the remote or on your lap comfortably, etc.
Bonus 1: it doesn't need a seperate USB dongle and works with normal bluetooth receivers
Bonus 2: The Mini also works with a PlayStation 3, if that matters to you.
posted by starzero at 12:14 PM on November 26, 2009

I have this keyboard and would advise against it as the mouse is awful. But I did see this recently which looks pretty good. No first hand experience on that one though.

FWIW, that keyboard is IR, not RF so you need to point it directly at the receiver when using the mouse/nub or you'll get poor results. Best keyboard I've used for MCE.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:25 PM on November 26, 2009

The VNC solution is interesting but I wonder what happens with CPU usage, if you leave the VNC session connected all the time. It's actually cheaper to use an older 802.11g capable laptop sitting on the coffee table than it is to buy a $130 wireless keyboard. However, the laptop being relatively ancient would need to be plugged in due to a old battery.

Re: VNC, it's clearly not possible to play a H.264 720p video (2 hour / 6GB file size) over VNC. On top of the CPU used to decode the movie by VLC, won't the VNC server daemon on the HTPC use a ton of CPU trying to render each frame and send it over the LAN to the controlling laptop? Even small flash animations in a web browser do poorly over a VNC session (Example: the "My horse is awesome" meme video). It'll also likely max out any 802.11g session at about 22Mbps... On the VNC client end you'd see about 2 or 3 frames per second in a slideshow fashion.
posted by thewalrus at 4:30 AM on November 27, 2009

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