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Xantech URC-2 Remote Control Review
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A macro of a different color.
Next up on the URC-2's twofold list of features are macros. Xantech takes a different approach to this benchmark than the majority of remotes: instead of recording a sequence of keystrokes from codes already situated on the remote, the URC-2 instead learns new, individual signals in sequence. This may not be particularly memory efficient, but it's a way to get around the problem of finding someplace to store commands that would otherwise only be used in a macro. The maximum number of steps per macro? Limited only by memory. Where exactly can you place macros? Everywhere, even on device keys. The maximum number of macros? Once again, limited only by memory. Theoretically, you could sequence up to 328 macros on the URC-2! Macros can also contain delays between each command, from 1 to 30 seconds, incremented by each press of the [DELAY] button. By default, the remote adds one-third of a second pause between commands.

Xantech URC-2
Click to enlarge. (24kb)
Since these "unlimited length" macros could become rather unwieldy to manage, the URC-2 provides a means to edit them. Using the [EDIT] function, the remote begins right at the beginning of a macro. Each press of the [STEP] key transmits the recorded signal (or, if a delay, nothing) and advances to the next command. If one of the codes did not work, you can press [DEL] to remove it. Inserting a new learned command is done with the [PGM] button, while delays can also be inserted via the [DELAY] key. Effectively, the URC-2 provides full macro creation and editing capabilities on any button, without the use of a PC. Now that's useful!

And that's not all...
Advanced functions on the URC-2 allow you to reset the remote back to factory defaults, clone one remote to another via a special, optional cable (which looks suspiciously like an internal PC CD audio cable) and, well, that's all folks! When we call the URC-2 simple to program, we really mean it! No worrying about a hundred-and-one button combinations for a myriad of programming options, many of which are created specifically to deal with a lack of memory.

But we haven't wrapped up the review yet! Indeed, this is definitely not everything that Xantech allows you to do with the URC-2. With their special Dragon Drop-IR PC software package, it's possible to take the "plain" URC-2 to an entirely new level. Although the PC software is not included with the original URC-2, it is packaged with a special version of the URC-2P, called the URC-2P/RP, at a retail price of $225. For the URC-2, it's only available with Xantech's PCIR-1 module at a cost of $400.

Xantech URC-2
Click to enlarge. (30kb)
The PCIR-1 programming interface is a largish box that measures 6.2" wide, 2.0" high and 3.7" deep (15.7cm by 5.1cm by 9.4cm). On the front of the box is a "talkback" LED, to indicate when communications are occurring, plus an infrared learning sensor - used to create URC-2 configurations without the actual remote. On the back is a DC power input port, an IR output for wired IR emitters (used for testing commands), a "Reset" button, an RS232 serial port for connecting the URC-2 to the PCIR-1 and a port to connect the PCIR-1 to a computer.

In reality the box is used for programming much more than just the URC-2 remote control - it's also used by dealers to configure the Smartpad keypads and many other Xantech products. Since the URC-2 doesn't really require the PCIR-1, Xantech ultimately came up with the new, retail-friendly URC-2P/RP package.

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