For those of us with HTPCs, we know very well that finding each bit of component that suites our setup is difficult. One of those key components that complete a HTPC is the keyboard and mouse. Now, regular wireless keyboard and mouse setups are bulky, large and heavy to use. Ideally, you might want to use something which is the same size as a standard TV remote control. There are remote controls in the market, but they need to be configured and setup properly for them to work. They don’t also have a keyboard on them, so you’re bound to use the onscreen keyboard on your OS and that can be a very annoying experience.
Compact and lightweight - just what HTPC users need
For those who want a full QWERTY keyboard experience on their HTPC, you have the Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard N5901. It’s a little larger than a standard remote but maybe, it has the correct amount of compromise between keyboard and remote.
Design and Features
The Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard N5901 is like its name suggests, a wireless keyboard and trackball mouse built into a single device. The devices looks like a larger version of a typical QWERTY keyboard found on a smartphone attached with a small handle attached to the bottom of it. The QWERTY layout of the keyboard is pretty identical to a full-fledged desktop keyboard but many of the other keys aren’t aligned in the same way. There are a set of multimedia buttons at the top of the keyboard which should be handy with media players and HTPC software. There is a Fn toggle key that can be used along with some other keys to access some special characters. There’s even a combination that can be used to access the Ctrl + Alt + Del combination. One thing we noticed missing was the Function keys that you find on a keyboard. There is also a missing Alt key on the left side of the keyboard.
Multimedia keys above the standard QWERTY layout
The plastic body of the keyboard makes it feel light weight also gives it its somewhat cheap feel. The lower half of the device has a glossy finish which automatically attracts a lot of fingerprints. It also houses the trackball in the centre and two mouse clicks within it.
The keyboard panel is placed exactly above it. The keys on the panel are large enough to type short messages and even search the web. It’s when you try to type long e-mails and documents that things start getting a little uncomfortable. The trackball on the device is easy to operate even with it held in the palm of one hand. Using the keyboard held in that position is not possible unless you have a really long and flexible thumb.
The smooth flowing trackball
The handheld keyboard-mouse set is powered by a set of AAA batteries that tuck into the back of the device. There is a really compact USB dongle that sits in this same compartment.
The keys on the keyboard offer a fair bit of feedback while typing. It’s a little easier to type than on a mobile phone keyboard once you get used to it. The trackball is very smooth and offers good tracking. We didn’t have to adjust the sensitivity too much and it worked just fine with the Windows sensitivity set to medium. The wireless range is pretty impressive as well. We tried using the keyboard from some 10 feet away and it worked flawlessly. We even moved to the other side of a cubicle and noticed no performance drop. This was with the PC and the USB dongle placed under a table.
The Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard N5901 sells in the market for Rs. 1,999, which might seem like a lot. For those looking for compact, portable keyboards with a trackpad or trackball integrated, you’ll know that a solution like this is hard to come by. If you’re building a fairly high-end HTPC and you do not want to spend on something as exotic as the Logitech Dinovo Mini for example, you’ll find yourself satisfied by its performance and also by the leftover cash in your wallet.