Submission By: Martin Howell – I had been using a full-size Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse to control the media PC that is attached to our TV, but it’s a big thing to have lying on the coffee table and the mouse needs a flat surface to work properly. So I went looking for something smaller.
I ended up with the Rii mini, previously mentioned on the home automation list. I bought it from a seller in China for around £30 and it was delivered around 10 days later in spite of the Christmas chaos and the snow. There are lots of people selling the same unit at prices up to £60, I simply chose the cheapest . A neat touch, the padded envelope it came in is pre-printed with a customs label describing it as ‘Electronics accessory for gift’ with a value of $10.
After a couple of days of use, this is what I think of it – The unit comes in a solid cardboard box, and is pretty much exactly what I had in mind – its around 150mm long x 60mm wide – and the crucial bit for me is the keys which are around 9mm square. The mousepad is a useful size too, around 32mm square. It ships with the wireless dongle and a Y cable, one leg with the USB charging plug and the other with a standard USB type A socket. There’s also a small instruction booklet, which amongst other things advises you not to use the unit while driving or in a petrol station.
The included wireless dongle is the smallest I’ve ever seen, only a fraction bigger than the USB plug it lives on/in, and comes fitted into a slot in the side of the keyboard. No configuration needed, I just plugged the dongle into the USB port, switched the keyboard on and away she went. It claims to have a wireless range of 10 metres, certainly worked fine within the 4 – 5 metres of my lounge and much better than the Microsoft unit it replaced, which had to have a couple of USB extension leads and the wireless dongle cunningly concealed under the settee.
This is a well made piece of kit, solid with a good quality finish. The keys have a nice positive click, and the mousepad works well despite its small size. The keys are backlit when in use, with an automatic sleep function to save the batteries. It also has a laser pointer built in. Its possible to turn the functions round by 90 degrees so that the unit can be used in a vertical position with the mousepad at the top – I tried this and didn’t like it, but if you were using it for presentations (using the pointer) it might be better.
There are lights to show wireless connectivity, battery condition, battery charging indicator and caps lock. If it can’t find a wireless connection, the keyboard refuses to turn on. The internal battery is recharged from the supplied USB cable
The mousepad is too small to be used like the standard sized job on a laptop, and the left/right mouse buttons are too close together for me to use them like I normally would with my thumb. However, after a few minutes of use I got the hang of it and it works fine – bear in mind that this is for occasional use for web surfing and media playing on the TV, and the small size is fine for this.
All in all this has been £30 well spent – it’s a well made product, and it does exactly what I wanted. Well pleased, thanks Santa.