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UCommand 525 Remote Control Review
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Crisp Solutions UCommand 525 Remote Control

Improving upon the UC-515, the UC-525 adds new hard buttons and improved functionality.

Crisp Solutions UCommand 525
Click to enlarge. (65kb)
If I had asked you a minute ago to name the first 3 or 4 remote control manufacturers that came to mind, it's unlikely that Crisp Solutions would have been at the top of the list. Even though they have been manufacturing a number of interesting controls for some time now, their UCommand line of learning remotes simply isn't that well known yet due to limited market penetration.

The original UCommand 515 (UC-515) was the foundation upon which Crisp Solutions built their reputation of offering high quality products reinforced with titanium-clad after-sales support. The seemingly simplistic UC-515 was found to be surprisingly competent, reinforced with useful capabilities such as all-button learning, macros on any key and automatic LCD backlighting. Also having the distinction of being the first such product to break the under $100 street price limit probably didn't hurt. But the predicament was that the all-touchscreen interface - "unencumbered" by physical buttons and used as a selling feature - was trickier to use than it initially sounded. Many folks found that they actually liked real buttons for certain functions. Realizing that this rather minimalist interpretation of home theater control wasn't for everyone, a revised model has been developed for anyone who fancies a few buttons with their touchscreen.

Crisp Solutions hasn't been resting on their laurels since the UC-515 first came out in 2000. Since then they've also released the UC-616, a first foray into the graphical (AKA "dot matrix") touchscreen and PC-programmable segment - an arena already dominated by a number of heavy hitters. Although I was less enamored with this particular product, it nonetheless proved to be an excellent value when compared with other similarly equipped remotes. If you're new to Remote Central, you might want to check out our reviews of the UC-515 and UC-616 to get a sense of where the UC-525 is coming from.

Crisp Solutions UCommand 525
Click to enlarge. (19kb)
While the slight model number increment suggests that the UCommand 525 (UC-525) is merely a modest improvement upon the UC-515, it is, in fact, a total redesign. True, you get almost identical capabilities wrapped in the same fundamental concept, but the all new ergonomic design picks up many ideas from their high-end UC-616. The biggest addition should be no surprise - bona fide buttons! Although touchscreens are incredibly practical due to their ability to change a button's label or even to have a button disappear when no function exists, such two-dimensional interfaces just aren't intuitive for commonly accessed functions such as volume or channel up/down. Without tactile reference points, users find themselves needing to repeatedly check where commands actually are.

Nearly all remotes available today have worked around this particular drawback by providing the best of both worlds - hard buttons for often used controls, plus a changeable touchscreen for less popular commands. Hard button fans rejoice, for Crisp Solutions has finally embraced the third dimension!

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