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On the left side of the remote is a [LIGHT] button which – you guessed it – is to manually enable the backlight function for the LCD and translucent buttons. Some day we’ll figure out why this button is labeled "LIGHT", despite the fact that it only works in the dark – when you can’t read it. Unless the light sensor (located at the very top of the remote) feels the environment is dark enough, the backlight will not come on, regardless of how many times you press it. It’s preset "dark enough" setting is fairly reasonable, but tends to allow a darker room that I would have liked for optimal screen viewing. You cannot customize the light sensitivity or disable the sensor, nor can you change the default time-out length from its preset six seconds. The LCD screen remains active at all times.
Uncovering some of the best stuff...
Although a total of only 39 buttons are available at first glance, a sliding door at the bottom of the remote adds an additional 29 useful buttons to the remote (and extends the length of the remote to a whopping 11 inches), bringing the total up to 68 keys, including the backlight and dedicated macro buttons. There are actually two "stops" on this door, the first revealing 20 user buttons, the next at the bottom uncovering various buttons to program the remote. I found that the door did not stay all that well in the "closed" position, while gripping the sides proved easier than using the molded finger groove to slide it.
Now, I generally don’t like flip-open or slide-down appendages on my remotes – they have a nasty habit of breaking the first moment you accidentally sit on them. Unfortunately the one on the UR362 does not look like it will break this trend. The mechanism is operated with two small metal leaf springs, on either side, which are likely to wear out after a few hundred slidings if past experience is any indication.
Flip to the side...
One of the interesting points on this remote is actually under the sliding door – a little piece of plastic that flips over and changes the labels of twenty buttons. Now, when I first saw this I figured it would serve some operational purpose – such as double the number of buttons under the door by changing their function when flipped to one side or the other. Alas, it seems to serve no function besides the decorative – and perhaps posing a choking hazard to small children when you finally snap it off.
The general idea is that the "leaf plate keynames", as the manual eloquently describes it, should be in the up position for the AUX 1, TUNER, VCR, CBL and TV positions, and down for AUX 2, AV, CD, DVD and SAT. This matches the device button layout at the top of the screen. But in operation, many of the commands you want for a particular device do not match the suggested position. It seems strange that they would go to the trouble of creating this neat widget without at least putting a small microswitch to make it actually useful – 67 usable buttons per device certainly would have sounded more prestigious than 47! Considering the powerful LCD key naming capabilities of the UR362 it seems pointless. Key naming? Oh, right, I hadn’t mentioned that yet!