Universal Remote Control R50
A little screen for your big screen
Review The R50, from US brand Universal Remote Control (URC), is a chunky A/V entertainment integrator that delivers a decent amount of functionality whilst being fairly easy to set up. While aimed more at the family market – real tech-heads might want a little more programmability and customisation – the product makes a decent fist of putting your home entertainment controls all in one place.
Universal solver? URC's Digital R50
The R50 delivers control of up to 18 products of your choice and has the option of adding macros for one-touch multi-function commands. The unit is no bigger than your average TV remote, but feels considerably heavier. This is no big problem, as a little bit of extra weight actually pushes the unit nicely into the palm of the hand with the R50’s rubberised back also helping to hold the product steady in the hand.
Included with the unit are the four AA batteries that, once inserted, power up the R50’s on-screen guide. URC supplies a quick start guide, but the onscreen menu is by far the easiest way to get going. The text on the start up screen is a little blocky and could do with being a little bigger for ease of reading. However, assigning products for the remote to control is very simple and the on-screen instructions are easy to follow.
The remote works from its own database; it has 32MB of flash memory, so there is no need to hook up to a laptop and go on-line. Initial set up is by choosing a series of product types from the on-screen list and slaving them to the remote. Usefully there is no need to specify a model or serial number, so there is no climbing around behind your stack.
Then there is a choice of a couple of different icons to represent each product. The icons have a cartoonish look to them there is a touch of the 1980s about them but, ultimately, they are clear enough to avoid confusion.
The display lacks definition with the custom icon choices appearing very dated
There is a small amount of customisation available here, as each icon has to be given a name, which you can choose yourself. Next, you manually power up the product you want to add, then press the cursor keys up or down until the product turns off. You then press the test function and the unit instructs you to try a few keys to see if the remote has picked the right set of controls to slave the new device to it.
I'm another who wouldn't do without the Logitech harmony, although the 'sofa mode' would be useful!
No coloured buttons?
Makes it somewhat difficult to use. That's often a problem with remotes from US companies as they don't use them over there.
It also looks pretty horrible, compared to for example the harmony 885 (available for under £100) - although it has the advantage of not being bound to logitech's crappy software.
Controlling multiple devices?
I admit I only skimmed through the review but there doesn't seem to be any mention of the ability to control multiple devices at the same time.
e.g. I need mute, volume and any sound controls to control my surround amp, I need any picture controls (brightness, aspect etc.) to control my TV and I need the channel and menu controls to control the Sky box and I want all this to happen without changing modes.
My Logitech remote does all these things and it doesn't cost £125
Logitech Harmony 525
Had a Logitech Harmony 525 for a while now. It's not got the full colour display but it does only cost £50 from Amazon and cheaper if you hunt around. Fantastic bit of kit. Review here http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/10/30/review_universal_remote_controls/page4.html
Not suitable for the UK market...
"...a little heavy on North American options..." - where's the red/yellow/green/blue buttons that digital and Sky TV users are used to?