Universal Remote Control

A better remote control is on the wish list of almost every home theater enthusiast. Universal Remote Control, Inc. has introduced two products worth investigating by anyone whose remotes have been hampered by environmental or architectural constraints.

The Harrison, NY-based technology company has released two new radio frequency (RF) remote control products: the Home Theater Master MX-600 IR / RF learning remote and its companion MRF-100 base station. The pair form "a powerful modular package combining both RF and IR technologies to send commands up to 100 feet away, through walls, floors and cabinet doors, even in highly active RF environments both indoors and outdoors," states a mid-August announcement.

The MX-600 and MRF-100 combo gives users control of up to ten separate audio/video components, regardless of where the equipment is placed in the home. The MX-600 sends radio frequency (RF) signals to the MRF-100, which converts the RF commands back to infrared signals (IR) to control A/V components. The IR/RF conversion system eliminates the line-of-sight problem common to most remotes, and enables control of equipment behind closed doors, inside cabinets, or in other rooms.

The MX-600 can store commands for up to 15 "macros," or control sequences of up to 20 steps, plus an additional 50 "favorite channels" buttons, each capable of ten steps. The MX-600 can control as many as ten components, and can be programmed with up to two pages of LCD screens per component, or a total of 26 screens with 260 text buttons, in addition to the 33 hard buttons. Text on each page can be edited as desired. The unit learn up to 530 new commands, and also supports an internal database of hundreds of code sets for various brands, including hard-to-find codes that allow precise control of all system components.

The MRF-100 receives RF signals from the MX-600 and transmits commands to all components in a home theater either through the base station's front IR Blaster or the six plug-in flashers. The combo can reach 75 to 100 feet without any interference, "even in hostile RF environments with multiple satellite receivers, computers and several key A/V components," the manufacturer claims.

The product launch follows Universal Remote Control, Inc.'s recent introduction of the Home Theater Master MX-800 PC Programmable Learning Remote Control and companion MRF-200 Base Station. The new MX-600/MRF-100 combination is claimed to provide many of the features and capabilities of the earlier models, except for PC compatibility, at much lower prices. Suggested retail price for the new combo is $249.95.