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iPAQ / UEI Nevo Remote Control Review
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Compaq iPAQ H3950 / UEI Nevo
Click to enlarge. (71kb)
Nevo operation & random thoughts.
The Nevo has obviously been designed as an easy-to-configure and operate remote control. Sticking to the basics, the Nevo’s setup process is simple, efficient and should be ideal for the wide range of users that the iPAQ will appeal to. Nevo operation has also been carefully thought out, with helpful screen-changing animations. Each time one of the three main sections is selected, it “drops down” from above. Changing pages scrolls the screen left and right. These animations are quick but effective. I never found them tedious or annoying, something superfluous designs can quickly become.

Buttons are generally quick to operate, but there appears to be a long recycle time between transmissions. If someone were to quickly tap in channel “500”, there would be noticeable delays between the last two digits. Rapidly pressing a button 10 times results in the Nevo continuing to operate for 5 or 6 seconds after the last press. In addition, the “sending” graphic shown at the top of the screen is misleading. Even if a command is transmitted for just a tenth of a second, the graphic will still complete its full animated routine – which, in most instances, ironically begins after the command has finished transmitting. Buttons also have a “depressed” or “pushed” state that can be slow to return to normal.

It’s not that the iPAQ or the Nevo aren’t fast – they blaze everywhere else thanks to Intel’s 400MHz XScale CPU. It’s just that in these few places there are appreciable delays that can make the remote feel slow and laggy, an impression it does not deserve. Still, the software is stable and never crashed.

Nevo Screen Shot
If desired, display text labels beneath each key.
By default the iPAQ will return to the “today” screen (something unrelated to the remote) after a number of hours of inactivity. If the iPAQ will be used solely as a remote control, that behavior can be disabled or customized.

No printed manual is included with the Nevo – only brief instructions are available from within the program. The help screens cover the essentials, but don’t explain completely how to do things or discuss exactly what is possible. In several places it resorts to “follow the on-screen instructions”, where I would have preferred to see full documented steps.

I’d like to see further advanced capabilities added to the Nevo: timers, toggle-buttons, variables, a television guide, DVD/MP3 jukebox mapping, fully editable user interface and an advanced PC-based editing package with file sharing – these should all be possible.

Don’t forget the range!
With only a single IR emitter, I was sceptical of the Nevo’s rated 50-foot infrared range. So what’s a sceptical remote control reviewer to do? Run it through the industry non-standard Menacing Thick Fluffy Blanket (MTFB) test! This is the place where la crème de la control rises to the top.

Our story so far: with Xantech’s URC-2 capturing top honors in the 2001 remote control season with an impressive final tally of 5.0, the “best infrared performance” trophy has remained just out of reach of all contenders. With an official range that’s 20 feet shorter than the URC-2, does the Nevo stand a chance? With only one emitter, can it even hope to surpass multi-emitter remotes rated at just 33 feet?

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