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User reviews for the UCommand 515 from Crisp Solutions.
UCommand 515
RatingsReviewsMSRP (USD)
Average: 4.39/5.00
Median: 4.67/5.00
The UCommand 515 is an economically-priced touchscreen LCD remote that can control eight devices. It features full learning capabilities, macros on any user button, an easy-to-read backlit screen and quick operation.
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the UCommand 515 remote.
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Written by Mr Boon from England UK.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 8 made on Saturday February 24, 2001 at 12:30 AM.
Strengths:Obvious advantages over a traditional button style universal for a reasonable price
Weaknesses:Incompatibility with my TV (ITTNokia)

Some button icons did not suit equipment
a bit big and heavy..
Review:LCD is better than physical buttons. Ability to change layout and remove unwanted (unusable!) buttons is good.
Macros are useful.
beep is offensive.

Needs a One-4-All database job to sort out your old TVs etc...


Worth it cos its LCD...!!
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Josh Catlin from Denver, CO.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 7 made on Friday January 19, 2001 at 3:44 PM.
Strengths:Simplicity, ease of use and configuartion, versatility, construction, manual, customer support, and of course bang for the buck!
Weaknesses:Very limited button icon selection means if you want to do something other than the default device layouts then you have to get really creative and you have to really remember, for example, what the blank button does that you know you set up a macro for once upon a time :)
Review:I just wanted to toss in a quick initial review of the UC515.

Wow :) Mine just arrived this morning, but I received it at my place of work so I can't really use it yet. The unit is certainly pretty slick in design - simple, but just snazzy enough to maintain the "wow" factor when I show other people. With no trouble at all I've already familiarized myself with just about all the basic functions of this remote and considering I've just been sitting here in my office with no other remotes or devices, that's pretty good! The only problem I have with this remote at all I mentioned in the "Product Weaknesses" already. Having such a limited ability to configure the LCD screen isn't really that much of a limitation considering 1) I'm squeezing my 6 current remotes down into this one unit and 2) the low $89 price tag of this unit! (http://www.surfremotecontrol.c...nt2/

I already like the unit physically and I've heard no real problems about using it for most devices so I'm convinced this will really work for me for years to come.

Ya just have to love an $89 LCD touchscreen remote that does all that this unit does!
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Ken Simmons from Auburn, wash..
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 6 made on Sunday January 7, 2001 at 4:33 PM.
Strengths:Ease of programming, flexibility, ability to "design" (within limits) individual key layouts for each device.
Weaknesses:"Hard-wired" keys and icon formats limits "flexibility" a little, "double-tap" on screen required for sending key function (only for "waking-up" the remote). can't use the "cloning port" to save programming setup.
Review:The Problem...
Like many in the A/V world, I've acquired a "collection" of disparate remote controls for my Home Theater gear. Needless to say, I needed for a way to "consolidate" them all into "one nice package". Thankfully, there are a number of inexpensive pre-programmed "Universal" remotes on the market. Companies such as RCA, Sony, Jensen, even Radio Shack market/carry "Multi-Brand Universal" remotes that, for the "vast majority" of A/V gear users, are more than adequate.

Unfortunately, "Yours Truly" doesn't fall into the "Vast Majority" category where his equipment is concerned. To prove it, here's my list of Home Theater gear:

* Denon AVR-3200 Dolby Digital receiver
* Pioneer CLD-D505 "combi" LaserDisc player
* Sony DVP-S360 DVD player
* Emerson ECC1450 MTS/SAP cable box (yes Virginia, it decodes and outputs true 2-ch stereo audio!)
* RCA ColorTrak 2000 TV (27" picture)

Many of you are probably saying, "what's so 'special' about your list? The pre-programmed 'universals' I see at WalMart, Target, etc. look like they'll handle those brands!" Good question, deserving a good answer. I tried those remotes and they all FAILED to handle the two "key" pieces of my set: the Denon receiver and Emerson cable box! Plus, the key layout was unattractive and (to me) extremely restrictive. It was time to start searching for "a Perfect Remote".

The Quest...
I next looked to the area of "programmable" remotes. Thankfully, there are a number of excellent offerings from very reputable companies such as Sony, Marantz, Philips, and even Harmon Kardon. In fact, I seriously considered the LCD "Touch Screen" offerings from Sony (the "RM-AV2000") and Philips (the "Pronto"), as they looked like they would "fit the bill" in terms of programmability and "customizability".

Unfortunately, there was only one "teensy, weensy" problem: THE MORE-THAN-ONE-HUNDRED-DOLLAR PRICE TAGS that accompanied the items. If you looked closely at this review's title, I'm a "budget-minded" kind of guy. Therefore, as much as I was impressed with the Sony and Philips offerings, I had to pass.

Back to the "drawing board" (catalogs, search engines, etc.). I found a couple of promising offerings from the well-known "universal" remote company, "One-For-All": their "Home Producer" (URC-9800) and "A/V Producer" (URC-8800). They claimed "full programming" capabilities. The "price was right" on both these units (under $100), unfortunately I was back to the dilemma of a "restrictive" keyboard layout. Oh well......

The "Guiding Light"....
Fortunately, all was not lost! For a while I had been admiring a nifty-looking unit offered through MCM Electronics ( Item #80-4145, carrying the label E-Pilot Universal Remote Control, a model # of SRC-9200, and a price tag of $99.95. I wrote to MCM and asked for more details on the unit; they wrote back saying "so sorry, this unit is purchased overseas and we don't have any information". Bummer. Back to surfing the web.

During my web surfing I discovered a company called Crisp Solutions ( Interestingly enough, they carry a remote control that "suspiciously looks like" the aforementioned MCM offering: the UC-515. A quick E-mail to them confirmed this - they make the MCM remote! And their price (through their web site) is the same - $99.95! NOTE: this remote is carried by a number of electronic-oriented web sites and the Crisp site has links to them. Needless to say, I was excited. However, the $99.95 price tag made me hesitate.

They say "fortune smiles on fools, etc.", and this "fool" is no exception. At the end of November 2000, I received an MCM "Sale Flyer". Guess what was in the flyer? That's right, the #80-4145 remote with a sale price of $69.95 ($30 off)! Being the bargain-hunter I am, I ordered the unit that same day! Roughly a week later, it arrived at my house and I was ready to play with it.

The "First Impression"...
The unit is packaged in a very plain white cardboard box with a hanging tab and a label that says 80-4145, MADE IN TAIWAN. Like many items I've ordered from MCM over the years, this didn't surprise me. Oh, well, time to crack open the box.
Inside the box was a "flocked" plastic tray holding a plastic bag containing the remote. The User Manual wasn't immediately visible. However, examination of the box revealed it was just "stuck" in the box. A "tap" on the box and the User Manual fell out. NOTE: to read the manual, make sure you have GOOD EYESIGHT - the book is small and the type is even smaller! Fortunately, you can download the "real" user manual (in Acrobat .PDF form) from the Crisp Solutions web site and print it on letter paper.

The remote itself is fairly spartan in appearance. It also has a bit of "heft" to it, especially once you install 4 (four) AAA-size batteries for power. However, the remote is extremely comfortable to hold, and the battery compartment "bulge" actually gives the sense of balance in the hand. While its' physical size of 3"x7"x5/8" (it tapers to 1" at the battery compartment) "fills the hand", it's size is not a detriment. Simply hold the remote with your fingers and let the thumb "dance around" the touch screen (area of 23/8"x41/4"). It's very natural-feeling and the entire screen can be accessed with minimal "thumb-action".

With the batteries installed, the slightest touch on the blank LCD screen "wakes-up" the remote and displays a generic key layout. IMPORTANT INFORMATION: this remote is TOTALLY DUMB "right out of the box". In other words, it MUST be programmed before you can use it as there are NO (zip, zilch, nada) "pre-programmed" codes. Therefore, you must use your existing remotes to program the functions! If you've "lost" a remote, you're basically out of luck unless you can "borrow" one for programming purposes.

The Testing...
Now comes the nitty-gritty. Open the User Manual to the "Programming the remote" section. Unlike many "programmable" remotes, the programming "eye" is located on the rear end of the remote. This means you keep your "source" remote in the same vertical orientation as the UC's keypad. No chance for confusion, sports fans!

Before I go any farther, I must make this declaration. The "keypad" is not a "bitmap" that you can customize. Rather, it is "fixed format" with 21 programmable "keys" and each "key" can contain one of a number of pre-designed icons. Yes, on the surface this looks like a limitation, but with a little ingenuity and forethought, a very workable layout can be achieved. The User Manual details how to change the key icons.
The remote itself can hold definitions for 8 (eight) separate devices (see the bottom 8 buttons of the icon diagram). In "UC-speak", they're referred to as "layers". Each "layer" can have up to 27 defined keys (leave the POWER key for controlling power! :) ), and you can combine different remote key definitions on each layer (For example, I defined the VOLUME and MUTE buttons as the Denon Volume/Mute on all the layers!). Only your ingenuity limits your button programming here. You can even "erase" (hide) layer buttons - useful for "decluttering" a layer or only programming the "most important" functions. Do you want macros? every programmable button, on EVERY LAYER, (EXCEPT the "POWER" and "device" buttons), can be programmed as a MACRO (up to 25 steps per macro - refer to the User Manual)! That capability alone should cause many eyes to perk-up. Finally, as an extra bonus, the UC-515 will readily accept and transmit "X-10" remote codes (for all you "Home Control" freaks out there!).

IMPORTANT: The MCM unit may not have X-10 capability! Be aware of this if you desire a remote for controlling X-10 devices. If you "absolutely, positively, require guaranteed" X-10 control capability, purchase the unit directly from Crisp Solutions!

Programming the remote is ridiculously easy. After selecting a "layer" (device) to program, and after entering "program" mode (see the User Manual), the LEARN icon appears and the remote itself prompts you on what key to program next! That's right - a button flashes, corresponding to the key on your "source" remote to press. Press the "source" key for a couple of seconds, the UC "beeps", the "OK" icon at the top of the screen flashes (indicating success), and the next button starts flashing. NOTE: if the "ERROR" icon appears, reposition the source remote and repeat the programming operation - the remote will "stay there" until it receives a valid signal. It doesn't get simpler than that! In fact, if you want to "skip" a button, just tap the desired layer button and it will start flashing, ready to accept the source's IR code. IMPORTANT SUGGESTION: remember what I typed about the buttons/icons above? it's' A Good Thing if you define each layer's layout (desired keys/icons) before programming. This way, you can save some programming/editing time. I learned this trick after I programmed a couple of layers and went back to edit the buttons/icons. However, if you simply want to "load and go", each layer has a default key/icon layout that should satisfy "the Vast Majority" of users.

IMPORTANT: Because we're dealing with an LCD "touch screen", you must take certain precautions to keep from damaging it:
* DO NOT drop the unit, especially on hard floors! If you have small (or clumsy, irresponsible, etc.) children, keep it well away from them!
* DO NOT spill liquids on the unit! It can handle small "spatters" (wipe them up ASAP), but "total immersion" is a no-no!
* DO NOT "poke" the screen with sharp objects (pen points, etc.)!
* DO NOT "mash" on the screen! the "slightest touch" will activate the "buttons"!
* DO NOT drop anything on the touch screen!
* AVOID "grimy" fingers. The screen is shipped with a transparent "peel away" cover - leave this cover on at all times - it doesn't impede "button" performance ONE BIT AND it'll help keep the screen clean. :)

All these precautions, and more, are covered in the User Manual.

The Comments...
As I recall, it took me all of 30 minutes to initially define my keys and program them based on the "most used" functions of all my devices. The only "snag" was the DVD - I needed two layers (DVD and AUX), one layer for the keypad and the other for the cursor arrows (remember, each key can hold ONLY ONE FUNCTION OR MACRO). Once you get over that limitation, as well as the key/icon restrictions, you'll have no problems.

As previously mentioned, the slightest pressure on the screen, even lightly rubbing it on your shirt, "wakes-up" the remote. It greets you with a very bright and noticeable yellow-green backlight glow that disappears after a few seconds. NOTE: you can program the backlight "on time" to 10, 20, or 30 seconds (default is 10 seconds). The VERY BRIGHT backlighting is extremely useful in darkened rooms and, as far as I can tell, doesn't give you residual "night blindness" afterwards. The remote has a built-in "room brightness" sensor (sensitivity user-definable) that determines how "dim" the room must get, after "waking up" the remote, for the backlight to come on. In a "bright" room, once the remote is activated the backlight won't come on - useful for saving precious battery power!

Once the remote is active, it's very responsive - instantaneous transmission after "key" press. The IR beam is also very powerful - you don't have to "directly point" it at your gear, just bounce it off walls, ceilings, paintings, etc. within the "operating range" of your A/V gears' sensors.

The remote will "power off" (screen goes blank) after approximately 20 minutes of "inactivity". Again, this is a battery-saving feature. Just touch the screen to "wake up" the remote for more use. If you should "forget" which device was "active" when the remote "powered-off", just tap the screen and look for the displayed icon in the device (layer) buttons. According to the user manual, a set of AAA batteries should last 6 months. However, depending on how often the backlighting is activated and keys are pressed, expect maybe 3 months tops? The "Your Mileage Will Vary" maxim really applies here. Thankfully, the "battery low" icon will illuminate, telling you it's time to change the batteries (don't waste time, according to the Manual!). Fear not - the programming is retained while you change the batteries. However, if you take the batteries out and leave them out for more than a couple days, the remote will "go dumb" again.

The remote has an audible feedback feature that informs you of "successful" keypresses. This can get annoying in a quiet room, so the feature can be disabled at any time by pressing the "layer" button again (the "beep" icon in the POWER goes out). However, once disabled it can just as easily be re-enabled by another "layer" button press (the "beep" icon in the POWER displays). If you have "stuttering" fingers, this could be a problem :)

No Commentary would be complete without a "Fault List". The UC-515 does indeed have its' faults:

* The remote doesn't immediately "function" after being "awakened". It takes one touch to "wake it up" then a second touch to start sending commands. At first, it's disconcerting but you do get used to this "quirk".
* It takes awhile to get used to the "(non-)feel" of the flat screen. Since there are no key "bumps" to "guide" your fingers, you'll initially find yourself watching the screen to find keys. However, your thumb will eventually "autopilot" and you won't have to eye the screen all the time. This is where the audible feedback can be useful.
* The remote has a "cloning" port designed for OEMs to make "specialized" UC-515's for their applications. The owner who's electronically "savvy" (like me) who wants to use that port for "saving" their programming codes, etc. on their computer can't do so. The folks at Crisp won't give out the port particulars, so don't even try to ask them.

The Summary...
All things considered, I'm extremely pleased and impressed with this remote. While not as "flashy" and "snazzy" as the Philips Pronto, the Marantz RC-1000 (MK I and II) or the Harmon Kardon RC-500, it's definitely better than "stock" remotes and much better than "Universals". Yes, it does have limitations/drawbacks, but with a little thought/planning they can be worked around. Finally, it's loads cheaper and more powerful than many other "programmables" making it a great option for those "on a budget".

While the "Perfect Remote" has yet to be invented, and the UC-515 is far from being "perfect", it certainly rises to the challenge. For all its' strengths, and despite its' weaknesses, the Crisp Solutions UC-515 (and it's "kin") is definitely worth a look as an economical method of consolidating up to 8 separate A/V remotes.
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by J. Dugan from Sonora, Ca.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 5 made on Friday November 17, 2000 at 1:15 AM.
Strengths:Large touch area for each key, quick response. No buttons! Excelent manual! Custom setting for backlighting activation.
Weaknesses:Would like to see the 8 remote mode keys to be modified for multiple vcr's, amps or cd players. Would like to see a dimple on the bottom of remote to make it more ergonamic.
Review:I have just come across this remote through one of my distributors, the model I purchased is the HL-UR400 by Home Logic, its obviously OEM'ed to Ucommand or from Ucommand. At first glance you are confused not seeing any rubber buttons or switches! I give it the highest rating on this alone! I have repaired many o' customers remotes only to say that some have years of debris, lint, food, soda, coffee etc in them!

The remote excels in its ease of programming and customizable key layout. I was also impressed by its power, after programming, it is able to control all my HT devices which are located behind my couch by reflecting off my projector screen. For a device at this price level you would expect a thrown together manual, but that is far from true. The manual is well written with the average consumer in mind. I had this remote programmed and customized in less than 1 hour. I would expect the average to ace this remote in an evening easy!

After eyeing other LCD touchscreen remotes I would highly recommend this remote for the average consumer and the average home theater owner. If your fixated on brand names then blow your money on the Sony or Phillips etc... If ease of use and a soft hit to your wallet then this remote is for you!

I give this remote the highest rating possible due to its strengths. Eventhough I wish there were some product changes, its price beats out its weaknesses
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Jeff Ruby from Scranton, PA, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 4 made on Sunday October 8, 2000 at 9:44 PM.
Strengths:Absolute ease in programming. Very easy to read. Very responsive, which is both a strength and a weakness.
Weaknesses:Too wide, for comfortable one handed use. Maybe if I had bigger hands. :). And the absolute downfall of the unit is the static location of button text labels.
Review:The programming of the unit is simple and logical, a little planning ahead of time will make it even easier for you to determine which buttons you will need for each device you will be operating. All concievable functions are available although due to overlayments you may not be able to have 2 features which appear on the the same button. Hence the use of "Blanks" Buttons are quick to respond to input, although I sometimes find myself hitting them unintentionally. The unit is above all an awesome piece of equipment, If my review seems to be reading rather negatively, it is simply because the negative aspects of the unit don't seem to be adequately represented here, IMHO. These negative aspects are not that significant. I highly recommend it to anyone.
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Bryan Cannon from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 3 made on Wednesday October 4, 2000 at 10:08 AM.
Strengths:Price, lighting, versatility
Weaknesses:Not QUITE enough programmable buttons
Review:I've owned this remote for approximately one month, and so far I have had no problems. The setup is easy (the default screens are pretty close to what I needed.

Besides the fact that you must occasionally remember what a blank key means, my biggest problem so far is that I have two devices which have separate ON and OFF frequencies. Other than that minor problem, the remote is a great buy for the price.
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Matthew Ludtke from California.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 6-12 months.
Review 2 made on Thursday September 14, 2000 at 12:26 AM.
Strengths:Very easy to program. Great features. The best remote control anyone could ask for $100.
Weaknesses:Absolutely None.
Review:Love the remote and features. I purchased it several months ago with the intention of controlling my home automation system. With a little patients and some effort, Uli from UCommand figured out a way to program the UC-515 to accept X-10 IR commands. Now I have the dream remote I was expecting. The customer service and support is outstanding due to Uli and UCommand. Thanks a million Uli!!! Please try a UC-515 and you will love it!
Quality: Features: Value:

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