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Four and twenty macros...
The Unifier is capable of holding a total of 24 macros: 16 power macros for each device’s [Off] and [On] keys, plus 8 device selection macros on the device keys. To program a macro, hold a device button and press [Mute]. Next, select the key to place the macro on, either [On] or [Off] or, for automatic device-switching sequences, enter macro mode via the [Audio] device and then select the desired device.
Now begin recording up to 50 commands – the LCD keeps track of how many steps you’ve used. Changing devices counts as a step, and 0.5 second delays can be added between commands by pressing the [Pause] button. If you’d like to have device switching macros only play back when the button is held for a certain length of time, begin the macro by adding a delay – the number of delays indicates how long the key needs to be held before the macro will transmit. So, for a one second delay press [Pause] twice and then enter your steps. Save a macro by pressing [Light].
One item to note is that after playing any macro back, the remote will automatically change to whatever device the macro was saved on – this is commonly referred to as a “page jump”. So, if the DVD device’s [Off] button macro was on the TV device when it was saved, pressing [Off] will always change the remote back to TV. It operates this way on device switching macros as well, so theoretically it would be possible to completely secure access to a device by giving it a macro with a jump to a new device and no hold delay. Anyone in-the-know could still access those controls by pressing the device button and [Pause], thus cancelling the macro. Hey, unadvertised parental control!
Only one main setup option remains: punchthroughs. This feature allows you to take a small group of controls from one device and automatically “punch” them through to other devices, without learning those commands over and over again. Five punchthrough groups exist: the 3 volume keys, the 3 channel keys, the 5 transport keys, the 9 menu keys, plus the 2 power buttons (which may be macros). Punchthroughs work with preprogrammed or learned codes and are activated on a function-by-function and device-by-device basis.
So, if the [Off] and [On] keys should always turn the entire home theater system on and off, that group would need to be punched through to the 7 other devices. Or, the receiver’s audio could be controlled under just the DVD and satellite devices, while having the television’s audio for all others.
Finally, it’s possible to clear portions of the Unifier as needed. Erase single learned codes, all codes under a device, or all codes for all devices; erase macros one at a time; or you could reset the entire remote back to factory defaults.
This review will now continue with a combined section for the URC-200 and URC-300. If you would rather jump ahead to the sections for all three models dealing with usability and infrared performance, along with the final conclusion, click here.