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Complete Control MX-900 & MSC-400 Review
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2. Working with the database.
The second stage, which is optional, is the assignment of preprogrammed codes. The database includes device categories for audio, auxiliary, cable boxes, CD players, DVD players, DVRs, LD players, lighting systems, satellite receivers, tape decks, televisions, VCRs and WebTVs. Since Universal Remote Control’s products typically cater to an advanced audience, their code database features an extensive range of high-end brands and includes many discrete codes and secondary functions.

The “IR Database” screen presents fields to select the device name, type of device, and brand. If there are multiple infrared codesets available for that brand they’ll be listed under the “Model” window, and if it’s a popular make chances are URC will have already mapped out specific device model numbers and possibly even remote models to the most appropriate code.

After a specific code has been selected it can be tested through a connected remote, but as this only sends the [Power] command it isn’t useful for components that don’t have remote-controllable power. More importantly, omitted from the software is any way of doing an automated code search, nor is there any easy way of testing multiple codesets directly on the remote without an attached computer. This could make the discovery of the correct code to a new device potentially time consuming, or at least not as expedient as it could have been.

When an appropriate code is eventually found, pressing the [Save] button will present a preview of the default commands assigned to that code. MX-900 Editor will create as many LCD screens as is necessary for each codeset, and will also automatically apply (mostly) accurate labels to each command.

The database screen’s “Custom” button leads directly to the separate “IR Database Navigator” docker. This looks and operates differently than the main “IR Database” screen, in that instead of assigning a preprogrammed code to an entire device at a time this window will let you drag-and-drop individual preprogrammed codes anywhere. That’s right – just as on the MX-950 and MX-3000 it’s possible to mix multiple preprogrammed code numbers under a single device. So it will finally be possible to work with situations where one device’s needed commands are spread over two or three different codesets.

The specialized Navigator can even be a better method of assigning preprogrammed commands from scratch, since it’s possible to pick and choose only the commands appropriate for a device and place them in the desired button positions. It also displays more descriptive function labels, making it easier to figure out exactly what a command does compared to the truncated 5-character version one normally gets.

I can testify that the database is, in fact, updated on a regular basis with new devices. A recently purchased television of mine that was only partially covered by the database a year ago now has a complete and functional codeset with almost every one of the commands that I originally had to learn manually. Kudos!

Of course, you may not want to deal with preprogrammed codes at all. While using the database can lead to a super-quick remote setup, it’s not going to result in a perfect configuration. Missing commands, inappropriate or mysterious labels, duplicate codes, or just plain unsuitable function placement... sometimes it’s easier to start from scratch and do it right with learning.

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