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The four surrounding hard buttons, on the other hand, are practically wasted. The far left hard rotates between the Nevo’s three main sections (Home, Devices, Favorites). The inner left button scrolls forwards through devices or favorite pages. The inner right button changes the joystick’s assigned controls, while the far right button always sends the [Mute] command.
The Hard Button Pop-Up
As we mentioned early in this review, once the 1 through 5 minute timeout has expired and the iPAQ has shut off, it can only be re-activated by pressing the [Power] button or one of the four buttons surrounding the 5-way joystick... not the joystick itself. This means that in the middle of a movie it’s simply impossible to tweak the volume without first turning the unit on. It’s similarly impossible to change channels or quickly fast-forward a recording – and it’s this limitation that throws a monkey wrench into using the iPAQ as a dedicated remote control.
Since the iPAQ is designed to be a computer, Compaq logically expected it to always be used with the screen active. Despite reaching out to licence UEI’s Nevo remote control technology, the iPAQ designers forgot that if a remote control has hard buttons, it also needs a low-power standby state to be instantly ready to respond to button commands. The iPAQ already has such a standby mode, as evidenced by its behavior with certain buttons, but it hasn’t been tied in with the joystick.
Someone solely interested in channel surfing or volume adjusting doesn’t need the power-wasting and generally distracting LCD screen to suddenly blaze brightly in the middle of their darkened theater (Marantz RC5000 users complained about this when that behavior appeared after a firmware update). Although a straightforward issue, an actual solution may not be as simple.
It almost seems as if the hard buttons were a control afterthought. For example, punchthroughs can’t be assigned device-by-device. If one wants a VCR’s transport controls punched through to the television device, the Nevo will also punch those controls through on the DVD device – effectively wiping out the DVD’s own controls. Hard buttons are also non-macro and non-learning: they can only reference something stored on LCD buttons. Because of this, everything assigned to the lower hard buttons is also duplicated on-screen, something that, if the hard buttons had been thought out differently, might not have been necessary.
I like the idea of using the menu joystick multiple ways, but the surrounding hard buttons should have been fully customizable. I would have liked:
|Far left:||Jump to volume/channel mode and subsequently act as “Previous Channel” for current device.|
|Inner left:||Jump to Menu mode and subsequently act as the “Menu” button. Remap far right to “Exit” or “Guide”.|
|Inner right: ||Jump to Transport mode and subsequently act as “Chapter +”. Remap far right to “Chapter –”.|
|Far right:||Act as “Display” unless remapped.|