Saturday, July 3, 2010
Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard N5901
Plenty of wireless devices tout their plug-and-play functionality, but I was pleasantly surprised at how readily a range of test devices detected the N5901. It connected to desktops running Windows 7, Vista, and XP without a hitch. And after a moment of confusion when I attempted to use the N5901 on a MacBook Pro.I was up and running with it as well.
Most keyboards this small tend to be a bit painful to operate, but even for my oversized mitts, typing on the N5901 wasn't too much of a chore (physical mobile phone keyboards are smaller). Though touch typing is impractical on it, the keyboard, with its raised keys of uniform size, was wide enough to keep my hands from cramping, Still, it clearly isn't intended for chores more involved than search queries and occasional email messages.
Priced at £50, the N5901 is fairly attractive. The black and orange motif is simple and elegant, though the glossy finish is prone to picking up fingerprints. Despite being lightweight, it feels solid and should hold up well in even the most chaotic of living rooms. Power comes from a pair of AAA batteries, they didn't run down during my testing, but the lack of a battery indicator means that you should probably keep a few spares handy.
The N5901 is equally comfortable to hold with one hand or with two (for thumb-typing), but Lenovo's decision to replicate a full-size keyboard actually works against the device. The Menu key, for instance, or the pair of Control and Shift keys are handy when you're rattling out prose on a full-size keyboard, but they are a waste of space on something this compact.
The keyboard's lack of a shortcut to Windows Media Center is a glaring oversight in a device that's supposed to simplify the user's living-room PC experience. Instead, it offers a key whose sole function is to fire up the My Computer window. And since the device lacks any sort of software, you'll have to use a third party utility to reprogram that button to perform something. The N5901 does offer volume and playback controls, which continued to function properly even when I tested them on OSX.