Super Remotes Page 3


Nevo Sleek, sexy, and so programmable

The Short Form
$799 / 3.125 x 7.5 x 1.375 IN / MYNEVO.COM / 866-612-0583
•Incredible programming flexibility. •It just looks so cool. •NevoMedia Server/Player software for streaming music and photos.
•NevoLink worked erratically. •Expensive.
Key Features
•3.5-inch color LCD touchscreen •Programmable and fully customizable through NevoStudio software •NevoLink Media Bridge option ($199 each) •NevoMedia Server software streams music and photos to NevoSL •NevoMedia Player software plays music and photos on PC or Mac
While you probably haven't heard of the Nevo brand or its manufacturer, Universal Electronics Incorporated (UEI), it's likely that you've used - or are using - one of UEI's products. The company is a leading supplier of remote controls for cable companies and A/V component manufacturers. And if your remote includes a built-in library of preprogrammed codes, chances are it was licensed from UEI. The NevoSL is the company's latest flagship venture. It exudes a high-tech cool that begs you to pick it up and play with it. Even sitting in its elegantly sculptured charging cradle, blue backlight glowing softly, this remote lets you know it's different, inviting you to take it for a spin.

SETUP With its ability to customize every single button, the NevoSL can be programmed to your exact preferences. Want a Display Format button on every page? Done. Want a THX button on your DVD page, a Dolby Pro Logic II button on your cable TV page, and a DTS Neo:6 button on your CD page? No problem.

Usually such customization entails a cumbersome and time-consuming setup, so before diving in I perused the remote's 90-plus-page "design guide." Fortunately, the manual is well written, and the NevoStudio Windows XP programming software goes a long way toward easing this pain. The NevoSL is clearly intended for professional programming, but the software is so intuitive that advanced DIYers should be able to tackle it and tailor the remote to their heart's delight! Along with NevoStudio, the CD-ROM contains NevoMedia Manager software, which includes Media Player and Media Server applications (more on them later).

The layout of the home page - where the remote returns when you press a side button - is key. It can be arranged by rooms, family members, activities, and so on. The NevoSL gives you a choice of 15 different backgrounds, with 4 themes each - every page can look the same or different. You also have 67 different device icons to choose from. No matter what background or layout design you select, the NevoSL just looks great. Plus, the software makes changing layouts or adding your own graphics ridiculously simple - just click and drag for most operations. I used photos from my recent trip to Italy as backgrounds on several pages, giving the remote an incredibly personal touch.

During programming you can also set up optional NevoLink Media Bridges ($199 each), giving you Wi-Fi control of audio and video components located in different rooms or hidden inside cabinets. The NevoSL can control up to 250 NevoLinks.

0601_superremotes_nevo150PERFORMANCE The NevoSL fits nicely in one hand, though some may find it awkward to use the touchscreen that way. Fortunately, a lot of system control is done via the buttons at the bottom of the remote. There's also a pull-out stylus for those with sausage fingers. A well-placed scroll wheel allows you to quickly navigate through multiple pages relating to the same device - say from the TV's 0-9 keys to its menu keys to a page of your favorite channels.

Using IR control in my living room theater, the remote worked great. With access to every command arranged exactly the way I wanted, I could truly ditch all of my other remotes. However, I had poor results with the NevoLink and Wi-Fi control, and ultimately didn't use any NevoLinks in my setup. Two separate samples both repeatedly "hung" on commands. For example, about 20% of the time, instead of issuing a single command, the NevoLink would issue the same command repeatedly for 5 to 10 seconds - causing, say, the volume to rise 30 dB unexpectedly or the channel to change 15 times in a row. UEI was unable to replicate this problem, and it's probably a networking gremlin in my system. But still .... The NevoLinks each have six outputs for IR emitters. It would have been nice if the remote could be programmed to individually address these outputs, which would allow you to control multiple devices of the same brand without conflict - for example, if you owned two identical CD changers.

The NevoMedia Player and Media Server programs worked great. Once running, the Wi-Fi-enabled NevoSL "found" my laptop and displayed pictures and played music as instructed. Browsing photos on the remote's screen isn't quite as cool since only about one-quarter of the screen is used. What is cool is that album cover art is displayed when available, enriching the browsing experience.

"Power users" with a slew of remotes will want to give the NevoSL a cuddle. It can truly replace every other remote, and its ability to be fully customized should stave off obsolescence. Media Center PC owners will love the NevoSL as an interface for previewing and selecting digital content from around the house. If I have one caveat it's that, at $799, it's pricey for what it does. But, then, how can you put a price on freedom?