Universal Electronics Nevo SL
- Does almost everything you could ever want a remote to do, totally customisable
- Incredibly expensive, Nevo Link should be included, a little complicated
It does everything a remote should do and more besides, but costs about the same as the GDP of a small country
Price$ 1,699.00 (AUD)
Before you read any further just make sure you have seen the price tag of the Nevo SL. Yes, you did read that correctly, this remote control costs the same amount of money as an entire home entertainment system, or a return flight to London, or if you're that way inclined, 120 six-packs of VB. We assume that this fact alone will put off about 99 percent of potential buyers, leaving only those for whom money is no object and perhaps a few people with a remote control fetish. We wouldn't be surprised if they exist somewhere.
So, can a remote control really be worth getting a second mortgage for? Well, to be honest, we don't think so. At this price we would be expecting built-in mental telepathy. As it is though, the Nevo SL is easily the most powerful remote control we have tested yet. Every aspect of the Nevo SL oozes style. Opening the plush box reveals some snazzy branded foam inserts and a whole pack of instruction manuals. The remote is basically a specialised PDA, containing a dedicated 203 MHz processor, 64 MB of SDRAM and running Windows CE. Complementing this is a 3.5 inch 64,000 colour TFT touch screen, replete with stylus. The Nevo is powered by built in rechargeable batteries and sits on its own stylish glowing charger. Of course no self respecting gadget these days could do without wireless functionality of some kind, and the Nevo SL is no exception. Built in 802.11b Wi-Fi access provides another dimension to the already impressive specifications. The Nevo SL truly is a world away from the average cheapo universal remote.
The question is - what on earth does the Nevo SL do with all this power? For starters, having a colour touch screen means that the Nevo SL is customisable in any way that the user desires. Using the supplied USB cable the Nevo SL can be connected to a PC and altered to your heart's content. Colour schemes, background, buttons and icons are all fully changeable using the supplied editing software. There are some supplied templates but if you wish you can completely ignore these and design a remote control just the way you want it. To start with it's a good idea to connect to the Nevo SL website, where you can download pre-programmed templates for all the other gadgets you wish to control. This saves a lot of time, as individually programming a dozen pages would be a little tedious. We found most products to be covered, though a few newer products weren't yet listed. If this is the case, a diagnostic tool can be downloaded to the Nevo allowing the user to test various options, in the hope that one will work. We found this to be a very useful feature and it worked well.
In addition to the regular types of product featured on universal remotes, Nevo provides additional support for media streamers. Using the built in Wi-Fi it is possible to browse the content of your computer on the Nevo's screen then select what you want to stream onto TV. This is a nice feature, though it would have been even better if the Nevo SL included a streamer itself.
The second use of Nevo's Wi-Fi technology allows the remote to control devices from anywhere in the house. This is achieved by using the Nevo Link, an additional purchase of $499. The Nevo Link is simply a small plastic bridge that trails 6 infrared emitters on long cords. These emitters can be stuck on to devices that you wish to control wirelessly. The Nevo Link can then be connected to a wireless router (not included) and linked to the Nevo SL. This then allows the Nevo SL to control the device as long as it is in Wi-Fi range.
There are two benefits to this, though we're not sure if either is honestly all that useful. Firstly, you can hide away all your gadgets in the cupboard. If you feel that all those DVD players and AV tuners are spoiling the feng shui of your living room then they can simply be concealed away out of sight. Secondly, should you wish to control the TV from the back garden or on the roof then Nevo will let you. Just how many people will find the ability to control devices from a different room useful remains to be seen.
Our main gripe with the Nevo Link is that it isn't included in the box to begin with. It doesn't give the appearance of being vastly expensive, not even coming with built in wireless, yet costs a fair amount of money. Another problem with the wireless connectivity is that it seems to drain the battery a lot quicker than when using the Infrared mode. Other than that it works well, the Wi-Fi link is responsive and quick, and we had no problems hooking up multiple devices. In fact, the Nevo responds well generally. The unit is light and easy to hold and using the touch screen is very easy. The actual hard buttons on the Nevo are well made and sturdy, a toggle wheel on the side makes flicking through menus easy too.
We did encounter some other problems with the Nevo SL. Although downloading templates for various devices from the internet is quick and easy, we found they didn't always work perfectly. Occasionally some buttons would have been programmed incorrectly, while others would be entirely superfluous, offering functions that the device didn't even have. The customisation offered by the Nevo SL is also a double edged sword. On the one hand, it means you can pretty much do anything you like, but the fact that there are no less than 3 manuals included with the remote gives an idea of how complex the software can be. The manufacturers have implemented a relatively friendly interface though, and once you have it figured out it shouldn't be too hard.
So is it worth buying? The Nevo SL isn't the most expensive universal remote available, not by a long way. Others are available for $500 more and in fact offer less functionality. So, if we had to pick one remote control that we were to use forevermore then the Nevo SL would undoubtedly be it. However, if we had to pay for it, we would certainly be looking elsewhere. Where we might look is to Nevo itself. The software behind the remote is available to purchase separately for PDAs, meaning you can have the same functionality at a much lower cost and with the bonus of having a PDA.
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