Hands On the Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard

Dave Zatz —  June 8, 2010

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When it was revealed that the new TiVo Premiere┬ácan be controlled via USB keyboard, wireless or otherwise, I began my hunt for a compact and inexpensive accessory… as TiVo doesn’t provide a mechanism for transferring Season Passes between units and their own upcoming Bluetooth QWERTY remote has been met with mixed reviews and an unknown launch date. Not to mention, text entry is still a mostly infrequent task. (Until support is integrated into the third party TiVo apps.)

I landed on the Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard, as it met both requirements. It’s a compact but somewhat ergonomic thumbboard that regularly shows up on Slickdeals for $36, shipped free. The mini USB receiver can be tucked away in the battery compartment when not in use, which is why I couldn’t immediately locate it when the Lenovo arrived.

lenovo-wireless-keyboard5In testing, the 2.4GHz RF worked fine around the living room as I typed show titles into the TiVo and experimented with a just-passing-through Acer Aspire. The trackball is another story. It’s unusable on the TiVo (keyboard control only, not mouse), but on the PC where I could test it, the roller seemed a bit too loose. Granted, I didn’t attempt to adjust its sensitivity in Windows. But I’m still not sure I’d recommend this for daily control of an HTPC.┬áRegardless, as an infrequent TiVo text entry device that you stash in the remote drawer, the Lenovo Mini gets the job done.

12 responses to Hands On the Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard

  1. And thanks to Jon for continuing to email me this Slickdeal… because I kept missing it. :)

  2. Wow that’s really cool!

  3. Enrique Narez June 8, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve had this for a while now. Aside from the keyboard not being backlit, it has been a perfect little HTPC remote.
    You get used to the trackball in Windows very quickly until you don’t even have to think about it.

  4. Logitech diNovo Mini works for me http://www.logitech.com/en-us/keyboards/keyboard/devices/3848
    I used it with TiVo Premiere and with mac mini connected to HD TV.

  5. Have you tried the DVR Remote iPhone/iPod app? Works great for me as an alternative remote for faster text entry. Works especially well for me, as I have my TiVos modulated throughout the house but don’t have an IR receiver in every room.

    I realize not everyone has an iPhone/iPod, but if you do, you might give the free/lite version a shot.

  6. Yep, I’ve written about it a few times. The author’s working on an app update which doesn’t use keyboard macro functions as the Premiere OS maps individual keys. Well, most. There’s still a bug or two that TiVo needs to work out. Although his macros can be used for say the Netflix or Amazon keyboard screens.

    BUT it never occurred to me that it would be a good replacement for RF or IR over coax, etc to control whole home. Hm, good call! What do you use to distribute your signal and does it pass HD?

  7. I’ve been pretty happy with the Lenovo Mini Wireless keyboard for my HTPC. My main complaint is that the keys aren’t backlit, so it’s hard to type on it in the dark. For PC use, the lack of F1-F12 keys is also slightly annoying, but I haven’t run into very many cases where it matters that much.

    I do very much like that it uses standard batteries instead of a built-in, non-replaceable Li-ion one.

  8. @Dave

    Unfortunately, HD on primary display in family room only. A Channel Plus modulator there sends out TiVoHD and Premier via composite. Gives me the four tuners I had wanted to see the Premier have…but I know I’m preaching to the choir on that.

    I’m really more than ready to uprgrade our remaining SD displays to HD, but due in large part to the cost of matrix switchers and and my uncertainty over the best way to go (HDMI, component, baluns, ect), I continue to deal with it.

    If you or anyone else has any suggestions/thoughts on distributing HD, I’d love to hear them.

  9. We sold our place in 2005 and have been renting gypsies since. At one apartment I did manage to share the S3 between the living room and master bedroom, because they weren’t too far away. S3 in living room got component, and a 30′ HDMI cable brought the signal to the master bedroom.

    But that was in the pre-iPhone app days and also before I learned TiVo has potential HDMI handshake issues if both connections are activate simultaneously.

    Given the state of TiVO MRV, we’re still on our own working out these solutions. I’ll check in with Ben Drawbaugh and see if he’s got some ideas.

  10. If you want to distribute HD via HDMI in different rooms you need either a splitter or a switch. If you have more than one TiVo then a Matrix switch is the best since it gives you the ability to watch either TiVo in either room at the same time. These of course cost more. Component is much easier but the principals are the same. And the good HDMI matrix switches can actually solve some handshaking issues, while cheap ones and introduce more.

  11. It doesn’t have to be HDMI… could be anything. What’s the best bang for the buck and easiest to implement I guess? HDMI is nice because it sends everything over a single cable. But are there any roll-your-own MoCA-esque solutions that do it as well?

    I forgot what you’re doing with Media Center – component plus IR-over-coax?

  12. jon frederick June 10, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    looks like a sale is on now, coupon code USPCJN16336 at http://goo.gl/cOYV