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The Xantech's buttons have a honed, polished appearance that I find quite pleasing. Items are grouped with different shaped buttons for easy use, even in the dark (though that motion sensor will prevent it from ever being impossible to read!), and all keys are positioned in easy reach for single-handed use. Though the numerical keypad appears small at first glance, I found it adequately spaced for even my big fingers. With the vertical arrangement of the channel and volume keys I would have preferred the [MUTE] button to be below volume, rather than beside, but this is a minor nit.
The "press and hold" function works well, requiring about a second of hold time to activate. In addition, when "cursor shift" is enabled in the "tier 2" position, the URC-2's normally inactive status link switches on, indicating the keypad's position. Regardless of the tiering capabilities, I would have still preferred more keys and better labels - even if only for use with DVD players and PVR devices.
It's a bird, it's a plane!
The swooped down infrared cover almost gives the URC-2 the appearance of a Concorde during takeoff - and it's emitters seem to be just as powerful! Yes, it's time for our quintessential (yet, inexplicably, ignored) Menacing Thick Fluffy Blanket test! Tested with the [MUTE] command for a Sony STR-GA8ES receiver at a precise distance and angle, our MTFB is the transmission strength platform from which all remote IRs are judged and graded. We naturally start off at Level 1, which so far has caused no problem for any remote subjected to this test. We next come to Level 2 - two layers of our standardized blue and white fluffy material - which, as far as the URC-2 was concerned, was immaterial! Even the terrifying triple threat at Level 3 didn't cause the URC-2 to break a sweat. Level 4... now we're getting into serious territory. But, once again, the URC-2 rose to the challenge like a true competitor.
Level 5. The previous remote to gain top honors on our MTFB faltered here, earning a final rating of 4.5. But the URC-2 prevailed - a true "shining" survivor! But finally, at Level 6, the URC-2's dual IR emitters tuckered out, unable to get even a smidgeon of a command through. Surely three inches of polyester is enough to overpower anything! The final tally for Xantech's entry? An impressive 5.0 - no wonder the IR distance is officially rated at 70 feet!
Despite being marketed to a high-end niche market and priced accordingly, Xantech's URC-2 is still a worthy contender for the average home theater system. Even though the PC software is really needed to make the most of its advanced capabilities - the most valuable being command tiers - there's still plenty of potential in the base unit itself. If you desire a remote control that is elegant and not intimidating in any way, the Xantech URC-2 is simplicity in its highest form.