Your Universal Remote Control Center
UCommand 525 Remote Control Review
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Crisp Solutions UCommand 525
Click to enlarge. (70kb)
Since not everyone has size XXL hands...
Priced attractively at $129 USD MSRP (the same as the UC-515 when it was released), the UC-525 is an 8-device learning remote that manages to feel like a much more expensive product, even if it may weigh in at the lower end of the touchscreen pricing scale. One of the slimmest and thinnest designs I've used, the UC-525 measures a mere 2.4" wide and 1" thick at its largest points, extending gracefully to 8.3" long (6.1cm by 2.5cm by 21.2cm). Its solid but still comfortable weight of 7.0oz (or 200 grams; 5.5oz or 155 grams without batteries) gives the remote substance, but not unwanted bulk.

Uniquely, the remote features a long and narrow LCD screen that measures 1.6" wide by 3.6" long (4.0cm by 9.2cm), positioned towards the front of the remote. The display is divided into 21 touch-sensitive squares (or buttons) in a 3 by 7 arrangement. Space at the top of the LCD is reserved for setup icons, while an identical amount of space at the bottom displays the currently selected device. Overall contrast levels are excellent and ensure that the remote is easy to see even in subdued conditions, though it does tend to distort noticeably when pressed.

Above the screen, at the very top of the remote, are four real buttons used solely for programming - [LEARN], [DELETE], [MACRO] and [TRANS]. Immediately below the screen is a cluster of 8 multi-purpose buttons, while further below those are an additional 8 buttons corresponding to the UC-525's octuplet of devices. All buttons are quite easy to reach with a single hand.

Crisp Solutions UCommand 525
Click to enlarge. (31kb)
Automatic backlighting - a killer view.
The LCD screen and all hard buttons (save for the four at the top) are illuminated with a bright, vibrant blue electroluminescent (EL) panel that can be manually activated via the [BACKLIGHT] button (located in the central group of 8 buttons) or triggered semi-automatically by the built-in light sensor whenever the room is dark. The original UC-515 used numerous tiny yellow LEDs. Those were certainly bright enough, but created very uneven lighting. The top-of-the-line UC-616 improved upon that by switching to a blue EL panel, but any appreciable gain in smoothness was negated by uncomfortably low brightness levels.

Crisp Solutions seems to have ultimately pulled the perfect set of backlighting characteristics into the UC-525 - the color isn't "greeny" like some remotes, only emits a very soft buzzing sound when active (a characteristic common to this type of display), and is at least twice as bright as the UC-616. Even when the power's out, you'll be able to see the remote! (Or use it to read through the TV Guide to check what you're missing...)

Positioned at the very bottom of the remote is a small learning eye used to capture infrared signals from other remotes. This particular eye placement is usually seen in more expensive remotes and ensures that you don't have to work with one of the remotes upside-down.

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