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First up URC was showing their new MX-900 “Genesis” remote control, something designed to fill the price and feature gap between the MX-850 and MX-950. The MX-900 could almost be considered an “MX-950 light” – it’s smaller and naturally has more limited resources, but is designed in the same style as the MX-950 (and MX-3000) and also sports the same basic capabilities. The MX-900’s LCD screen supports 7 lines of text with 7 characters each and has 6 adjacent hard buttons on one side. Its buttons also include [Watch] and [Listen], plus dedicated channel, transport, chapter skip and 5-way menu keys, making it particularly well suited to DVRs. It includes a USB interface, uses regular AAA batteries, and is expected to retail for $399.
The company’s new R5 and R7 consumer-level remotes may not have received much attention yet, but they could end up making some major waves in the low-end universal remote market. These $30 and $40 remotes support 5 and 7 devices, respectively, and also include macros, a preprogrammed code database, full learning capabilities and a 5-way menu cursor control. The R7 upgrades the R5 with a backlit keypad and 4 PIP buttons. And since they both have dedicated Skip/Page keys, they’ll be ideal for DVR users.
But the “biggest” new remote from URC at the show was the TX-1000 “Aegina”, their answer to the large horizontal touchscreen remote format pioneered by Sony. Although the USB-enabled TX-1000 won’t be winning any awards for being sleek or lightweight, it does offer quite a bit of remote control power and has especially bright backlighting. The large and spacious LCD touchscreen has room for 12 custom labeled buttons with up to 6 text characters each, and is flanked on either side by volume, channel and power buttons. Beneath the screen are the now-familiar [Listen], [Watch] and [Page +/-] buttons, along with 17 other buttons including a 5-way menu cursor pad and transport controls. Although the unusual outline of the TX-1000 tends to make it look something like the center of a technological coat-of-arms, it will be interesting to see exactly where URC takes this product. The interesting mix of large touchscreen with numerous useful hard buttons is certainly promising.
Finally there’s the $499 MRF-500, which just goes to show that each time URC improves their RF extender it gets bigger – and this time it’s full component width. The new MRF-500 includes 12 IR ports (6 can be RS232), 6 “sensing” ports for adaptors that sense current, voltage or video, 2 relay outputs, along with interfaces for their $100 KP-100 backlit in-wall keypad control. The MRF-500 stores up to 1024 macros internally, so they’re always transmitted reliably over RF with no glitches.
Also from URC is the new PCL-300, a wireless IR transceiver for use with the MX-350 and MX-650 remote controls. Although those two models do not feature a serial or USB port, by purchasing this accessory dealers can use the remote’s built-in infrared-based remote-to-remote cloning capabilities to simulate a true PC interface. Don’t expect MX-700 or higher class capabilities: the press release only mentions upgrading the remote’s firmware, archiving remote configurations and downloading sample templates. No price was disclosed, and the PCL-300 will not be available to end users.
That’s it for this show – see you next year in Denver, which promises to be the biggest and best show ever!