As a company, Xantech is well known for their centralized home theater system products. Wall control keypads, IR routing systems, amplifiers, volume controls, in-wall speakers - you name it, they make it. While remote controls are most certainly a necessary part of any successful home automation project, their sole product, the URC-2, has never received much recognition except from those already in the industry. Exactly why this is the case is hard to say, but Xantech has never before marketed to the general public, instead relying on sales mainly through custom installation channels.
Priced at the high end of the hard buttoned remote category, the $200 USD MSRP Xantech URC-2 ($225 for URC2P/RP) 8-device remote has an understated exterior that belies the sophisticated technology below. If you've been eyeing the latest and greatest remote controls out there, you've probably been wooed by extravagant touchscreens, acres of buttons, or flashy gimmicks. As a complete contrast, the URC-2 features no LCD screen whatsoever, a limited yet capable number of buttons, and very few frills. In fact, you can't help but look at the URC-2 and have one word come to mind: "basic". So, why the high price tag - and why would you want to own one? Keep on reading!
A nimble powerhouse.
As one of the smallest universal remotes we've had the pleasure of using, the URC-2 measures 7.6" long, 2.3" wide and 1.0" high (19.3cm by 5.8cm by 2.5cm). Weighing a scant 6.5oz (180gm) with batteries and 5.0oz (140gm) without, this is one clicker that won't tire your arm out over the long haul (say a Clint Eastwood marathon). Along its length you'll find 48 hard buttons, 9 LEDs and not a whole lot else to distract you. At the very top of the keypad is the requisite "status" LED. Below that, each of the 8 source selection buttons are paired with an LED to indicate that it is the selected device. Further down, you'll find a keypad with channel and volume controls, a dual-purpose transport/cursor section and, finally, 12 general-purpose buttons with arrows and letters printed on them.
The transport group includes nine buttons which can be used as either a full five-way menu control with four auxiliary command buttons, or full transport controls including eject and chapter skip. If you feel that the lack of dedicated transport and menu keys would be a problem, be sure to check out how the PC software (covered later in this review) is designed to deal with this physical limitation.
A feature borrowed from several high-end remotes, all hard buttons are backlit with an aqua colored electroluminescent (EL) panel that activates automatically when you press any key, pick up the remote, or move it even slightly. In addition, whenever the backlight is active the current device's accompanying LED lights as well - so you'll never hit a button thinking it was for another component. By default, the bright backlight times out after six seconds. Though this setting is not customizable on the base remote, the accessory PC software can be used to configure the timeout from 1 to 10 seconds - but it cannot be disabled. There is no manual [LIGHT] button, so if you want to see which device is active you need only give the remote a little shake.