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Xantech URC-2 Remote Control Review
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Xantech URC-2
Click to enlarge. (70kb)
The URC-2 is a learning-only remote control, meaning that there are absolutely no preprogrammed codes. Although this is often the most versatile type of remote available - usually with more than enough memory to teach whatever, wherever - the downside is that they can't be used to replace the functions of lost or broken remotes. You need a functional remote from which to capture codes. But as the URC-2 is marketed to the custom installer circle who are usually working with new equipment, this wasn't really a concern. Further, as the PC software features the capability to share infrared codes amongst others, this becomes even less of a worry.

Programming solo...
Given that there's no LCD display on the URC-2, all configuration is accomplished through various button combinations. Using the supplied "remote setup" template, which marks all necessary functions, helps make the process uncomplicated; the manual will likely only be needed for advanced programming. Surprisingly, the programming capabilities provided by the base remote are limited to just learning and macros - so the URC-2 really shouldn't take a lot of time to set up.

To learn codes, hold the [PGM] key and device button that you'd like to learn on. The status light will start blinking green, while the selected device stays steady amber. The URC-2 is now waiting for you to select a button. Select one of the 40 available user keys and the status light stops blinking and stays lit. Press and hold the button on the original remote control and, when the light starts blinking again, the code has been successfully taught. If it instead flashes amber, the code didn't take and you must try again. To learn another key, simply press it. If you'd like to learn a command onto one of the device buttons - which will be transmitted each time that device is selected - press the component button twice. To delete a learned key, hold [DELETE] and the key. To exit, hold [CANCEL] and the device button. What could be simpler?

Xantech URC-2
Click to enlarge. (53kb)
A common concern to shoppers is exactly how much memory a remote control has to hold infrared codes. Many otherwise excellent products have been hampered by a too-small amount of learning space. The specifications for Xantech's URC-2 indicate that there's 32kb of space - which compared to other remotes seems rather limited. But when you consider how much memory is included isn't nearly as important as how efficiently it's used, this seemingly small number becomes meaningless. Xantech's manual promises that you'll have to work hard to fill up the entire amount of memory they've provided - which I was unable to do with my entire home theater system.

The URC-2 is able to learn infrared frequencies ranging from 31kHz to 71kHz - not the most comprehensive coverage out there. However, Xantech's arsenal of other infrared accessory items may help if you have a 455kHz device, such as some Kenwood and all Bang & Olufsen: their MS455 is designed specifically to translate a 40kHz carrier into 455kHz.

I found the learning process quick, usually taking less than a second to capture codes. I did, however, experience an unusual amount of difficulty recording any signals from a particular Sony receiver remote, one that hasn't caused any similar problems elsewhere. One handy item is that the status light flickers slightly as it captures valid data - useful for getting remote spacing right.

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