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URC Digital R50 Remote Control Review
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Yoga for remotes.
For devices that are missing in the database, or if you simply want a greater level of control over what commands are placed where (and don’t mind spending a bit of time to get it), the R50 has a flexible infrared learning mode. There’s more than enough system memory for however many learned commands will be needed, whether a scattered few to fill in some holes, or if you want to create all 18 devices from a blank slate. Of course you’ll need donor remotes to capture all commands from, so if the database doesn’t cover a device and you no longer have the original remotes handy the R50 won’t be able to help.

Each of the remote’s 18 supported devices can store 37 commands on the regular hard buttons... but the real magic happens with the R50’s LCD, which provides an additional 8 pages with 6 soft buttons on each. That’s up to 85 functions available per device, or 1530 total across the remote (1585 when you add in ancillary locations). In comparison the MX-500 only holds 53 per device and 530 total. Even the computer programmable MX-850 is limited to 74 per device and 1480 total. The R50 is capable of capturing frequencies ranging from 15kHz to 460kHz, which covers all currently produced infrared A/V devices.

To enter learning mode select “Basic Setup”, “Learn”, “Inside a device”, and then choose a device. If the device has already been configured with a preprogrammed code, numerous “blank” LCD keys will be available on higher page numbers. Select a button to learn on and the top status bar changes to read “Ready”. Aim the source remote control at the front of the R50, press and hold the button to learn, and in under a second the status bar changes to “Good-Saving”, along with a progress bar at the bottom that fills in as the code is saved to memory.

The code learning process is very fast, but the act of saving each learned command takes significantly longer. From first pressing the original remote’s key, it will take the R50 roughly 6 to 7 seconds before the next key can be selected. Learning as fast as was possible resulted in 10 commands captured over 80 seconds – that’s at least 7 minutes to learn a typical device, not including any label editing (and there will be label editing).

In addition to learning on device keys, the R50 can also assign a single learned command to each device which will be transmitted every time that device is selected (a full device switching macro is also possible – more on this soon). Moreover, the Main Menu is treated as a bonus “19th device” so learned commands can be saved on any of its hard buttons, independent of all other devices.

Nearly 3 times as descriptive!
One of the many perks of the R50’s graphical screen is the ability to provide truly meaningful labels for all LCD-based soft buttons. While the MX-500 was limited to just 5 characters per label, the R50 supports a far more versatile 2 lines with 7 characters each. The R50 is already smart enough to custom label preprogrammed devices with actual function names from the database, so most devices should look at least vaguely like you would expect them without further work. But as the database is somewhat generic and shared by many different models of URC remotes, the R50 doesn’t always make the best use of available space. Sometimes two-word terms are split correctly across the two lines, and other times a word will start on one line and end on the next. Occasionally labels were shortened or cut off despite having plenty of room.

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