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Xantech URC-2 Remote Control Review
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Dragon Drop-IR
Setting up IR-based X-10.
Since the URC-2 is designed to be integrated with other Xantech products, specifically Smartpad keypads, a special function under the "Options" menu is used to generate infrared codes that cause such keypads to track the remote. So, when you switch the URC-2 to the "DVD" device, any keypads wired to Xantech's system will also switch. This is also the screen from where the backlight's timeout period may be adjusted.

The "X-10" menu can be used to create infrared signals for use with Xantech's full-featured IRX10 module, which should be priced under $150.

Saving and communications.
When you've finished your remote configuration, there's no need to save it to disk. After the initial creation of the .PJA "Project" file, the software is constantly saving it after each change. Which is actually a bit of a problem as no "Undo" facility is provided - all changes are permanent.

The exact size of your file is shown continually in the program's title bar, down to the byte, so how much free space is left is always known. Files may be downloaded to the URC-2 without any special sequence of steps - merely connect the remote to a computer's serial port and use Dragon Drop-IR's "Base Unit Transfer" command. It's also possible to upload and download remote configurations that were not created with Dragon Drop-IR, however these are saved as .CLN "Clone" files and can only be used to backup or duplicate remotes - no editing is possible.

The software can operate with serial connections on COM1 through COM4 and has been designed to work perfectly on laptop computers. I experienced no anomalies with transferring files to or from the URC-2 - in fact the small size of these files made transfers particularly snappy.

Xantech URC-2
Click to enlarge. (67kb)
As cited earlier, the special URC-2P/RP package includes the remote, instruction manual, serial connection cable, plus a mini-CD containing a special version of Dragon Drop-IR 4.5 called Dragon Drop-IR URC 4.5, all at a cost that's far less than the full DD4/PCIR-1 package. The stripped-down software version includes all relevant remote features from the full package, but omits the ability to configure Xantech's other products. In addition to the cosmetic changes, the URC-2P also adds the capability to work with toggle-bit codes either automatically or manually.

Getting down to business!
Finally, using a fully-configured URC-2 is a pleasant experience. I found that I very much liked the light automatically switching on and the current device being indicated. With that said, I'm a bit concerned at what rate the batteries will be drained with the almost constant backlight use, especially without a docking station option. A good addition to the motion sensor would be a light sensor to prevent the backlight from activating when it isn't needed.

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