Continuing downwards are a pair of broad [Back] and [Ahead] buttons - better known as [Rewind] and [Fast Forward]. Although there is nothing to indicate so on the remote's surface, each of these keys is a horizontal rocker and combined the pair can hold four commands - two on the outer edges and a further two on the inner edges. This is definitely a power user's function, though, since the inner portions can be tricky to press and as mentioned it's not obvious that pushing there will do anything different. Below these are [Stop], [Play] and [Pause] keys - unexpectedly with those exact textual labels - to complete the transport section.
Finally, at the very bottom of the remote, is a space-saving arrangement of 10 numerical digits with flanking [+10] and [Enter] keys. Although [+10] is the traditional label for the bottom left key in a numerical keypad, not much in this day and age uses that function so the HDTV's [Dot] or [Dash] could have been more appropriate (and/or generic for other functions). In total there are 50 hard buttons, 46 of them user programmable.
A new kind of feeling.
The smooth buttons on the Aurora look to be made of hard plastic, but they are still traditional flexible rubber. The keys surrounding the screen are black with white labels, while the ones below these have been painted in the same light silver color as parts of the housing. All buttons have had labels laser etched into the painted surface so that the backlight shines through the text but not the rest of the opaque key - an effect similar to that of most modern cell phones.
This new button style is a departure from URC's former GemStone coating, which was a hard, high-gloss plastic molded overtop of a traditional silkscreen-printed rubber membrane. I wasn't always a fan of the GemStone process... when it first came out I found it overly hard and slick, but I've since grown to appreciate its bulletproof durability and easy-to-clean nature.
Although Universal Remote is satisfied that this new high end finishing technique as durable as it is decorative, there have already been isolated user reports of remotes where the paint has worn completely through on frequently used keys... something that doesn't look too good on a $700 remote. Unfortunately, this is probably to be expected. Whereas with the GemStone finish a remote's buttons would fall out before the protected printing could wear off, anything painted or silkscreened directly on the surface is going to be subject to wear and tear from dirt and oils, or friction from fingerprints and dry skin.
The MX-950's silver buttons offer a pleasantly smooth, matte, almost suede textured sensation. Their travel is more restricted compared to earlier URC remotes but nonetheless offer firm, definitive tactile feedback, require less effort to push than the harder GemStone keys, and remain comfortably above the surface when pressed. And yet the black keys at the top of the remote have been graced with completely different characteristics. The rubber appears to be softer and more flexible with less "snap" in its tactile response. I also found it possible to hit the left or right sides of the wide [Page] buttons and not have anything register - something that did not occur with the similarly sized [Listen] and [Watch] keys.
Key placement on the MX-950 is excellent with no ergonomic bloopers. Certain keys may appear to be close together, but those are always logical groupings where the proximity is a benefit.