Caavo Control Center, something much more than a universal remote despite having just replaced my Harmony, is out with a humongo update today. First and foremost, beyond managing the connected television devices that they continue to iterate on, the company has picked up TiVo’s original whole home torch and is expanding control deeper into our dwellings with Sonos integration. In the first cut, your Sonos speakers and groups can be accessed via your device list, where currently playing music can be reviewed (with album art) and minimally controlled.
Beyond dipping their toes into the smart home, Caavo is also releasing a fairly impressive suite of features under a “family care” heading… that I’ll probably never use. From the Caavo mobile app, alerts can be sent to the television screen – either by commandeering the majority of the display (above left) or with a smaller, more subtle overlay (above center) to communicate (one-way) with whomever’s viewing. Potentially related, Caavo can now trigger mobile alerts indicating when content above various ratings is being viewed. But wait, that’s not all. A thumbnail of currently playing content can also be accessed from within the mobile app or another linked Caavo.
More practically, the mobile app update now includes full-on Caavo remote control. Although there are several benefits to the physical remote, that’ll I’ll go over in a future post. But I also have a gripe or two to share as, for example, my Fire Television “project” TV isn’t yet supported (but slated for summer support).
As it happens, I go way back with Caavo founder and CEO Andrew Einaudi, plus many on his team, as a former Sling Media colleague. Back in the day, amongst his various roles, he wireframed every existing (and envisioned!) Slingbox. And boy did we have some crazy ideas, that we fortunately never launched, like the one impractically designed to hang off the top of the television and one I lovingly refer to the “flowerpot Slingbox” (above) that they dug up for me (and recycled years later as the 120 in India).
Anyhow, I assume Caavo (and their investors) have realized achieving momentum and a critical mass at $400 is a tough sell for a startup pitching something completely new (just ask the early TiVo). But at a new and much more palatable $60 price point, along with this continued product development, they should significantly improve traction. Although, while the requisite higher service fee may be a profit center, it’ll remain a marketing challenge. I do wish them well as the company clearly wants to enhance the television experience (to now include home) and they’re coming at it with a fresh take versus “just another Harmony.”