And the silver medal goes to...
As the R50 has no RF capabilities for through-the-wall control, the performance of its infrared emitters is all that much more important. Of course you can trust our MTFC (Menacing Thick Flannel Cloth) to put it through the paces! From a distance of approximately 7 feet, the MTFC test involves transmitting the [Mute] command to our reference Sony receiver through ever increasing layers of fabric obstruction. So far our bevy of tests has resulted in scores ranging between 2 and 11, with an average rating of 6.7 over the 9 remotes that have been benchmarked with this replacement to the retired MTFB (may it long keep the cat warm).
Since URC remotes typically score well in infrared performance, I opted to skip past the baby steps and head right to level 4... which, no surprise, the R50 handled with aplomb. Level 6? Once again the R50 passed with flying colors. How about level 8? Commands continued to get through all that fuzzy flannel, although off-angle performance was definitely starting to lessen. The final tally for the R50 and its two infrared emitters was 9.0, or an amazing nine layers of fabric.
A score of 9.0 on the MTFC is especially commendable Ė indeed itís the second best measured so far, surpassed only by another URC model, the MX-500. Who needs RF when you can bounce infrared right off the walls?
Universal Remote Control may have finally caught up to the Joneses with an inexpensive color LCD remote control, but donít mistake the Digital R50 as being more flash than substance like so many of those other mass market models. The R50 is unique, having been fortified with the cornerstones of URCís earlier successful models... the ďthree CísĒ, if you will: capable, customizable and cost-effective.
After reviewing nearly 70 remote controls and using umpteen more, Iíve yet to come across one that was perfect. It should therefore be no surprise that the R50 does have some faults. But the few things it falters at are more than offset by everything it does right: quality construction, a bright screen, control over 18 devices with plenty of functions per device, loads of usable macros, mostly quick and straightforward programming, powerful IR, more customization options than the average user is going to need... thereís a lot of versatility here to like, and it can all be accomplished without the use of a computer!
If youíve decided that you want a greater level of control over how your remote control works, but donít yet want to step up to the price range of a computer programmable unit, then you owe it to yourself to check out the R50. It may have taken a while for URC to release an advanced color remote for consumers, but the R50 is proof that good things come to those who wait.
- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)