A cluster of four grey system buttons below the screen are used exclusively to navigate the remote. The round [Main] button jumps to the Main Menu or enters setup mode, while the two multi-purpose keys on either side make use of the bottom of the LCD for descriptive labels, but are generally given [Previous Page] and [Next Page] duties. Finally there’s an oval [Fav] button used to link directly to the R50’s special Favorite Channels section.
Beneath the system buttons are a pair of toggle keys, the left side for [Volume] and the right side for [Channel], with [Mute] and [Previous Channel] functions wedged between. Next is the menu key cluster, made up of a silver 5-way cursor pad with separate [Select] button, plus [Menu], [Guide], [Info] and [Exit] keys arranged in a thin circular ring surrounding the pad. Below this is an 8-way transport control that includes dedicated [Skip -], [Skip +] and [Record] keys. The R50 finishes with a standard 10-digit numeric keypad, with [Enter] and a new HDTV [Dot/Dash] key. That outdated [+10] key that had long overstayed its welcome has finally been replaced!
All together the R50 has a respectable 48 hard buttons, including a dedicated [Light] button on the top right side. Every key except for [Light] is made out of soft translucent rubber, with the vast majority labeled in reverse black silkscreen printing.
More style than usual.
The top of the R50’s case is made almost entirely of a glossy black plastic panel that extends from around the LCD screen and down the center. The black panel is complemented by four matte silver inset sections that highlight the toggle and transport regions of the remote. The back half of the case is painted with the familiar black “grippy” paint that’s become a welcome feature on URC’s remotes.
Compared to the last few designs from Universal, the R50 is a smoother and rounder remote – it feels closer to the MX-500 in hand than any other recent model. The sides curve smoothly from the front around to the back, with a slightly concave effect along the battery compartment for improved grip. Even though the battery compartment is large by necessity, much attention has obviously been paid to making the rest of the design as compact as possible. The back becomes thinner behind the LCD screen, resulting in the now-trademark URC “foot” at the front.
The R50’s balance point is slightly lower than halfway, around the bottom edge of the [Info] and [Exit] keys. Unlike the MX-500, when the R50 is sitting on a table it’s possible to press the keys on either side of the screen without the remote tipping over. The R50 is a solid remote with no creaks or squeaks – even the battery compartment door is fitted with a piece of foam to stop any potential rattling. The overall finish is excellent, with smooth joints between the multiple case sections and very little lateral twisting possible.