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Backlight and response.
The URC-100’s small LCD display and hard buttons are backlit with an aqua green electroluminescent (EL) panel – even the [Select] button in the middle of the black plastic ring lights up. The panel is brighter and more uniform than the one used on the SL-9000, and is noticeably more intense than the one used by the current MX series of remotes. The backlighting automatically shuts off after 10 seconds of inactivity; this timeout cannot be changed.
Compared to Universal Remote Control’s other recent offerings, the Unifier’s surface is positively packed with buttons – there’s about 5.3 buttons per square inch (BPI) over the occupied surface region. This compares to the URC-200 and URC-300’s central section with 4.7 BPI, or the MX-700 with a much more spacious 4.2.
The URC-100 is not actually as congested as some other remotes, but several keys are a little tight for comfort. The [Volume] and [Channel] toggles in particular have been made smaller than the URC-200 and URC-300, which seems unnecessary as the URC-100’s keypad already begins a quarter of an inch (two-thirds of a centimeter) higher from the bottom than those models. If everything was lowered by that quarter inch, the toggles could have been full sized. [Volume] and [Channel] are also a bit of a reach for single-handed use, as they’re placed higher and spaced further apart horizontally than the URC-200 or URC-300.
Programming with a small screen.
With just five characters and a “transmitting” icon, you might imagine that the Unifier’s tiny LCD wouldn’t be of much help during setup... but Universal Remote has managed to make it surprisingly effective, indeed much better than even some remotes with larger screens.
Entering any of the URC-100’s setup options is done by holding two buttons at the same time. To enter preprogrammed code numbers, hold the orange [Shift] key and press [Enter] for about three seconds. The word “SET” flashes on screen, followed by the last active device name. Select a device using the four arrow keys – devices are arranged in the software just as the 8 hard buttons are placed on the remote, so if you’re on “Audio” and want “TV”, press [Right], [Down] and [Select].
Next, key in an appropriate three-digit code number from the table included in the back of the manual. Available device types include amplifiers, cable boxes, CD players, DVD players, DVRs, LD players, lighting, preamps, receivers, satellite receivers, tape decks, televisions, TV/VCR combos and VCRs. As numbers are added they’re shown on the LCD. When the final digit is entered, the remote automatically transmits the “Power” command – so as soon as one of the codes succeeds in turning your device off, press the [Light] key to save it.
If none of the codes listed for your brand work, the Unifier has a built-in code search function that’s especially easy to use. Instead of entering a specific code number, use the [Channel Up] and [Channel Down] keys to step through all codes from the beginning. The current code number is always shown on the LCD, and the “Power” command is transmitted automatically after each press. And even better, you can hold the key down to scan through codes at a rate of about two every three seconds. Previously entered code numbers can be viewed later through a special button combination.