Universal Electronics Inc. NevoC3 IR and RF Remote Control

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have... not just the opening lines of one of the all-time great sitcom theme songs, but also a pretty apt description of the NevoC3, which is Universal Electronics Inc.’s new Custom Series remote.
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You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have... not just the opening lines of one of the all-time great sitcom theme songs, but also a pretty apt description of the NevoC3, which is Universal Electronics Inc.’s new Custom Series remote. This prospective Harmony-killer offers a sexy form factor, an attractive price, slick RF functionality, and some of the most infuriatingly frustrating programming software I’ve ever laid my hands on.

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Universal Electronics Incorporated’s NevoC3 is well balanced and a pleasure to hold.

But let’s focus on the good for a moment, because there’s a lot to love about the NevoC3. For one thing, this is one gorgeous piece of hardware. It’s a beautiful blend of gloss and matte, of monolithic simplicity and subtle curves, of form and function. The buttons one tends to use the most—up, down, left, right, OK, and the volume and channel controls— sport a delightful frictional finish that actually improves the tactile experience of using the remote. Your fingers gravitate to them and sort of want to stay there.

What’s more, the NevoC3 is well balanced and, despite the lack of ergonomic contouring on the back, a pleasure to hold, whether you’re choking up on the remote for access to the touchscreen or gripping it low to use the transport buttons.

It’s when you start trying to program those buttons that things start getting a bit frustrating. The remote uses a web-based wizard for most of its programming duties. In theory, it isn’t much different from Logitech’s Harmony remote software: you select the devices in your system, plug in the model numbers, pick and choose from a preset list of activities, and for the most part let the software do the programming for you. I say for the most part because, if your experience is anything like mine, after you’ve gone through the automatic setup you will probably spend a few hours afterward searching for quirks and filling in gaps.

Despite being the only remote I’ve ever seen with a dedicated “List” hard button, for example (perhaps the mostused button on any timeshifting DVR junky’s remote), the setup wizard doesn’t assign it any functionality, and in the end the only way I can get it to work is to learn the List function directly from my Scientific Atlanta DVR’s remote. It’s also a little peculiar that the NevoC3 includes a List button, but not an Eject button for DVD/Blu-ray players. I end up having to program this function directly into the remote, as well.

To be fair, all of these complaints are forgivable, because you only have to perform this sort of cleanup once, and you’re done. What’s not so easy to forgive, though, is that the remote has no provision for keeping track of the power state of the devices in your system, so if you have a device that lacks discrete power commands (and chances are if you have a DVR in your system, that’s the case), things can get messy really quickly. Switch between activities a few times and there’s no telling whether your cable box will be on or off. Really, the only workable solution is to create one “Wake Up” activity that powers on all of your devices, whether you need them or not, and program the other activities (“Watch TV,” “Watch DVD,” etc.) to merely change inputs instead of turning devices on and off as needed. But in today’s energy-conscious environment, that’s something of a dubious workaround.

It should also be noted that the power button at the top of the remote doesn’t work as an “All Off” button the way you’d expect; you’ll have to program a “Goodnight” activity separately, and you can’t assign it to the Power button, oddly enough. That wouldn’t be such a problem if the NevoC3’s programming software were a bit more robust; give me enough flexibility in the programming, and I can fake my way around the peculiar button assignments and lack of power state tracking. Unfortunately, the EZ-RC software tries to exist in a sort of gray area between consumer-friendly wizard and flexible installer-oriented control program, and ends up doing neither very well as a result.

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On a positive note, setting up the Nevo REX- 433 RF Extender is a snap. In fact, there’s literally nothing to it: plug it in and it works. Unfortunately, if there’s a way to change the RF channel I can’t find it, so I can only assume that if you intend to use the NevoC3 as an RF remote, you won’t be able to use more than one in the same home.

If it sounds like I’m being overly critical of the NevoC3, I probably am. If this were a genuinely shoddy remote, it wouldn’t be worth getting so worked up over. The reality is that UEI has a truly stunning piece of hardware here with tons of potential; it’s just held back by its programming software and some quirks in the remote code database, both of which can (and hopefully will) be fixed. Before they start overhauling the software, though, UEI should decide if the remote is intended for the consumer market or custom installation, because the attempt to serve two masters is the main reason the NevoC3 ends up being less than the sum of its gorgeous parts.

714.820.1000, www.uei.com

Kudos

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Universal Electronics Incorporated’s NevoC3 works with the Nevo REX-433 RF Extender, which is sold separately.

The buttons one tends to use the most on the NevoC3—up, down, left, right, OK, and the volume and channel controls—sport a delightful frictional finish that actually improves the tactile experience of using the remote. Your fingers gravitate to them and sort of want to stay there.

Concerns

The NevoC3 has no provision for keeping track of the power state of the devices in your system, so if you have a device that lacks discrete power commands things can get messy really quickly.

Product Specs

■ 2.2-inch color display
■ Controls up to 18 devices
■ 41 programmable hard keys plus four present keys
■ DIRECTV RF control without a separate base station

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