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NuVo Bows Two-Way Wireless Controller for Multiroom Audio

Built around Zigbee, the diminutive device enables multizone control of music, and delivers metadata to the palm of your hand.

ZigBee remote is just slightly larger than a smart phone
Julie Jacobson · September 3, 2008

NuVo made a splash two years ago when it introduced the sexy new ControlPad touchpads for its Concerto and (more recently) Essentia multiroom audio systems.

Now the company is bringing the same functionality (and more) to a handheld wireless controller about the size of a cell phone.

As with the ControlPads, the wireless unit displays metadata on the screen, whether music is streaming from a PC (via MusicPort), AM/FM tuner, satellite radio, iPod or some other source connected to a Concerto or Essentia system.

“It has all of the functionality of the keypads and more,” says NuVo CTO Rick Kukulies.

The “more” has to do with multizone control. Unlike the ControlPads, the wireless device can control any zone of the house – a necessity since the unit is mobile, unlike the in-wall keypads.

The wireless unit features the same bright OLED display as its in-wall counterparts, helping to minimize power consumption. Buttons on the device are indented, so you don’t accidentally depress them if you slide the unit into your pocket.

The docking station is powered through a USB port. “You could charge it off your laptop if you wanted,” Kukulies says.

For wireless technology, NuVo went with a version of the two-way ZigBee control protocol “because the radio is robust, the frequency is robust and because of all of the support,” says Kukulies.

NuVo did not implement the mesh networking technology that makes ZigBee so robust, but Kukulies says that the product uses a class 2 power level that makes it more powerful than usual. The product can communicate about 4,000 feet in free space, says Kukulies, who acknowledges that “free space” is unrealistic.

The wireless controller communicates to a transceiver that connects to a Grand Concerto or Essentia E6G system via a Cat 5 cable.

The product is expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year for about $799 retail.


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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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