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Virtual CEDIA Expo 2004 Report
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2004 CEDIA Expo Report

Welcome to CEDIA Expo 2004!

The CEDIA Expo is the second largest home theater event in North America. Only the massive CES held in Las Vegas betters its attendance, but with CEDIA focused exclusively on the home theater and custom installation businesses it is quickly becoming a prime location for A/V companies to launch and demonstrate their new wares.

This year’s show was larger than ever by a notable 20 percent, with 24,500 in attendance and approximately 550 exhibitors split between the Indianapolis Convention Center and RCA Dome. So what was the news this year? Read on and you’ll see!

Universal Electronics Inc.

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This year, UEI was mainly showcasing two new remote control products. In the “if no one will build it build it yourself” department was the UEI Nevo SL. Originally, the Nevo was supposed to be a prepared technology that could be integrated into most any device – tablets, PDAs, and so forth. Although such integrations did occur, the results were often less than ideal and often made the Nevo seem more like a toy than a remote control.

So, UEI has taken it upon themselves to design a PDA-based remote control that’s more remote than PDA. Featuring a bright, 3.5” LCD display, built-in WiFi, 17 configurable buttons and a rechargeable LiIon battery, the Nevo SL looks like the first Pocket PC-based product that could actually be a decent remote control. UEI is even breaking new ground (for them) by making the Nevo SL fully configurable with the Nevo Studio PC editing package – custom pages, bitmaps, macros and more. They’ve created what looks to be an intuitive, well thought out (and likely patented) editing interface.

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In terms of design the Nevo SL is very good, with extremely nice reverse-backlit metal buttons, a 3-way jog-wheel and an especially thin profile. The one catch is that the current goal is to make this a remote control and not a PDA – so users likely won’t be accessing phone books, surfing the internet or playing games. But since this was an early version, that could all change.

The second product exhibited was the Orion remote control, which unfortunately shares names with a new remote from Universal Remote Control Inc. (URC). The Orion takes the company’s Kameleon concept to the next logical level by integrating actual hard buttons. Although the Kameleon design was originally meant to replace traditional hard buttons with a changeable, backlit flat pad, the lack of tactile sensation while finding buttons turned out to be a stumbling block for commonly used functions such as volume and menu.

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And since those functions are really universal and shared by almost all devices, why not make them regular hard buttons? Thus the Orion, which sports 28 keys for menu, volume, channel and a numerical keypad. Above the keypad is a nifty green-on-black Kameleon section with 25 soft keys that can display various names. The Orion supports 8 devices, is light sensitive, has a built-in code library along with infrared learning, supports macros on any key and has a thin, sleek glossy black-and-silver design.

The catch? It’s currently only sold as an OEM product, meaning you won’t yet see it from the likes of One For All or Radio Shack. But we can hope for “soon”!

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