...Continued from Page 9.|
The two keypads are brightly labelled with red, blue, green, and black text. The physical buttons are made from translucent white rubber, except for the [Main] key which is light orange. All are finished with URC’s proprietary GemStone finish, a hard glossy coating that goes overtop of all printing and ensures excellent button and label durability – you won’t be wearing the labels off these keys! The GemStone finish also adds a pleasant doming effect to each button and gives what would otherwise be pliable rubber a more substantial feel. Buttons rise up appreciably from the case and, although they require more pressure to depress than most remotes, are not too firm and generate a very clear tactile “click”. You’ll know for sure when one is pressed – resting fingers need not worry.
Backlight and Menu.
Everything on the Automator and Customizer remotes is backlit with an aqua green electroluminescelt (EL) panel, from the LCD screen to all hard buttons. The EL panel is noticeably more intense than any used on the current MX series of remotes, making these remotes particularly adept to working in the dark. Subjectively they seem twice as bright as the MX-700.
Backlighting can be customized to automatically shut off after 1 to 99 seconds of inactivity, or if unwanted can be completely disabled (sure that might save battery power, but at what cost?) Interestingly, the backlight can also be set to a shutoff time of 0 seconds, which causes it to remain on for only as long as the [Light] button is held down (although commands cannot be transmitted while holding [Light]). The LCD itself remains on constantly and never turns off.
An interesting effect frequently used by URC (but not many other companies) is reversing the LCD screen when backlighting is enabled – so instead of black text on an aqua green background, it’s aqua green text on a black background. This looks particularly nifty in a completely dark room, but has the unfortunate side effect of making the backlight utterly useless in middling ambient lighting conditions where you might just need it to help. Instead of making the screen easier to read, it actually blanks it out as text becomes the same color as the background. Whoops!
The 5-way cursor direction pad on the Automator and Customizer is different from the one used for the MX-500 series. Instead of a single piece of plastic that is moved in four outer directions with a press in the center registering as “OK”, the new remotes have an outer plastic ring for the four directions, plus a regular GemStone “Select” button in the middle. Although my preference is for the previous single-piece design, the new system may benefit those users who found the 5-way pads too tricky to use reliably.
Easy setup menus.
The URC-200 and URC-300 both offer easy setup via full on-screen menus. To access the main Setup Menu, hold [Main] and [Enter] for three seconds. 10 options are presented over two pages: “P-Pro”, “Learn”, “Edit”, “Macro”, “Fav”, “Punch”, “Erase”, “Recal”, “Light” and “Clone”. During setup, the bottom status line on the LCD will flash useful information on what you should be doing next... like telling you to push another button.
The first option, “P-Pro”, is used to enter preprogrammed device codes. The URC-200’s 10 devices are spread over 2 display pages and include default assignments for TV, Cable, DVD, VCR, Audio, Satellite, CD, VCR2, DVR and AUX. The 15-device URC-300 has Audio, TV, DVD, VCR, CD, Cable, Satellite, Aux, TV2, Lighting, VCR2, Tape, DVR, Phono (far out, man) and LDP.