Device versus activity.
The R50 is primarily classified as a “device”-based remote, as are almost all of URC’s models. Some competing remotes in this price range utilize a different “activity”-based approach, but there’s not nearly as much of a difference as marketing departments would have you believe. In essence, an “activity” is made up of the controls to a primary device such as a cable box or DVD player, mixed with limited functions from supporting devices such as a television and A/V receiver, wrapped up with a macro that automatically configures the equipment to use that activity, and finally given a family-friendly name such as “watch a movie”.
With a no-frills device-based remote you may indeed have to flit back and forth awkwardly between several devices to accomplish the same goal as that simple “watch a movie” activity, but the R50 is far from “no-frills”. Through a combination of macros, punch throughs and code learning the R50 can be easily transformed from basic device-by-device operation into a respectable activity-style approach... it’s your choice.
Who needs a computer! Oh, wait...
As mentioned earlier, the R50 is programmed entirely using on-screen setup menus – there’s no PC software or PC interface in sight. Just think, that frees you to configure the remote wherever you please, including right in front of your TV.
To enter setup mode hold the [Main] button for three seconds. The LCD will first step through a few screens with general instructions on how to navigate the menu system, ending at the main Setup Menu. A total of five options are available: “Basic Setup”, “Advanced Setup”, “Favorite Channels”, “User Settings” and “Display Tips”. That last option enables or disables the remote’s on-screen instructions and tips, which double as the R50’s primary user manual. Almost no paper documentation ships with the remote, save for a folded sheet of paper called the “Quick Start Guide” that combines a brief programming overview with a general usage tutorial. And I do mean “brief” and “general”. The R50: saving your forests through abridged instructions!
The first menu option, “Basic Setup”, is where devices and buttons are created. Selecting this brings up a second menu with additional options: “search the database” for using the built-in preprogrammed code library to create a device, and “learn” for devices not covered by the database, or for any situation where you want to capture codes directly from the equipment’s original remote.
To start we’ll select “search the database”. The R50 supports 18 devices, displayed over 3 LCD screens with 6 devices each. That’s plenty of room for even the largest of home theater systems. After selecting a location for the device, pick the type of component. Categories include audio, cable, CD, DVD, DVR, laserdisc, lighting, satellite, tape deck, TV, VCR, Web TV... and the catch-all, “auxiliary”. Subsequent screens allow you to customize how the device will look on the Main Menu. There are a total of 30 different graphical icons available, expanding beyond the stock preprogrammed database categories with new icons for Media Centers, iPod, game systems, projectors and more. The text label for devices can also be changed, with up to 2 lines of 7 characters each – although the icons look best when paired with a single line of text.