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As with most OEM’d remote controls, the UR362 is available from other vendors in various flavors – in this case, Rotel’s RR-969. While most companies buying OEM remotes merely take the product and stick their name on it, Rotel actually went back to the drawing board and came up with a new button layout. One that is, in my opinion, a more logical design.
Black and light and shades of gray...
But first, Rotel has modified the case by switching to black colored plastic, coated with the tactile finish that I like so much – an improvement over the smooth metallic gray case of the UR362. Secondly, the backlit buttons in the top section use a more opaque white plastic than the UR362, though this provides no visible enhancement in the dark – if anything it appears slightly darker. Additionally, the light sensor that has sole control over the backlight seems less sensitive than on the UR362 (though that just may be this particular remote): I had to put the RR-969 in almost total darkness before it would allow me to activate the light.
What may make users prefer the RR-969 over the UR362 is the different button design. The keypad has been rearranged from the non-standard design present on the UR362 to the normal 1-2-3 / 4-5-6 / 7-8-9 / 0 layout we’re all familiar with. To do this they had to remove two of the lower transport controls – fast forward and rewind – leaving only the two chapter skip arrows. This is a somewhat unusual choice since most remotes use channel up and down for that particular function. Don’t worry – the total number of buttons has not been reduced. In fact it’s gone up from 68 to 72!
From faux to functional: a story of two rockers.
The channel and volume buttons have been moved from the faux menu controls next to the transport controls, to more functional rocker-style buttons placed beside the keypad. Below the dual rockers are mute and band buttons – glaring omissions on the UR362. The power button has been doubled in size, while in place of the old volume and channel buttons a new 5-way menu control has been added. Surrounding the menu controls are four small buttons for [GUIDE], [MENU], [SEARCH+] and [SEARCH-]. Being that this is only a one inch square section of the remote, going from 4 to 9 buttons makes it quite busy.
Other buttons have been changed as well. The large [PLAY] button now has a comfortable smoothed top, while the rest of the paired transport buttons have been split apart. The [MACRO] button has gone from a prominent position on the UR362 to a sub-configuration location on the RR-969. Preset device button labels have changed from AUX1, TUNER, VCR, CBL, TV, AUX2, AV, CD, DVD and SAT. They are now AUD, TV, SAT, VCR, DVD, CD, TUN, AV1, AV2 and AV3. All button labels under the sliding panel have also been changed to descriptions that I suppose match up better with the Rotel product line. Some of the configuration buttons have swapped positions. Finally, the LCD screen has had the date and day-of-week displays removed, leaving only the clock.
If at first you can’t reset, try, try again.
The RR-969 comes pre-programmed with Rotel brand devices – for all others you must use the learn command. The sleep timer function appears to be omitted, though a new "clone" feature to copy remotes has been added. Several other minor features are missing, such as the macro step counter that used to reside in the date section of the display. No less than three buttons are now dedicated to the resetting of items on the remote – [CLEAR], [PRELOAD] and [RESET]. Otherwise, operation is identical to the UR362– you get 20 macros with 20 steps each, can learn on any button, provide custom LCD labels, set alarms and flip that little plastic plate back and forth to no useful end.
Surprisingly, Rotel’s manual contains clear instructions and diagrams for programming the remote. All in all the RR-969 is worth serious consideration over the UR362. It’s got a more useful key layout with both menu and transport controls that will appeal to a large number of consumers.
- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)