Universal Remote Roundup Page 2

Universal Remote Control, Inc. URC-100 Unifier, $100
The URC-100 Unifier, Universal Remote Control, Inc.'s entry-level offering, can control eight separate components. To help with setup, it comes with a DVD tutorial that shows you exactly how to get the remote up and running. A wonderful addition to the tutorial is a section that shows some of the advanced possibilities, such as the option of setting up macros or changing device names in the display. Perhaps the most intriguing facet of this remote is its expandability. For another $75, you can add the MRF-100 Expander RF receiver, which will pick up the remote's RF signals from a distance of 50 to 100 feet. The Expander sits inside your component cabinet and converts the RF signal it receives into an IR signal. The six included flashers then transmit the IR signal. It's a great way to control the stereo if you are sitting outside barbequing and listening to music, or even if you have furniture blocking the IR signal. The MRF-100 is compatible with the other remotes that URC, Inc. has to offer, as well, which allows your remote-control possibilities to grow with your system.

• With its RF signal, you can control the stereo from the backyard
• Setup DVD for users who are afraid of manuals

At A Glance: Universal Remote Control, Inc. URC-100 Unifier Universal Remote Control

RF or IR: Both
Other connection types: None
Learning or Preprogrammed: Both
Buttons reassignable: Yes
Number of devices controlled: 8
Number of macros: 24
Backlighting: Yes
Batteries: 4 AAA, included
Dimensions (H x W x D, inches): 8.5 x 2.5 x 1
Weight (ounces): 8 (with batteries)
Price: $100

Ratings: Universal Remote Control, Inc. URC-100 Unifier Universal Remote Control

Build Quality: 93
• Highly durable buttons keep their click
• Feels sturdy in the hand

Value: 93
• The expandability of this remote makes it worth the price
• Includes batteries

Features: 96
• Both IR and RF signals offer usage flexibility
• Setup DVD covers loads of options

Performance: 95
• Provides a strong signal
• Quick, (relatively) painless setup

Ergonomics: 92
• Fits well into either hand
• Intuitive button placement

Overall Rating: 94
Universal Remote Control, Inc. knows what they are doing and shows it with this offering to the remote world. Plenty of features, a plethora of customization options, and loads of expansion make it worth the price.

General Information
URC-100 Unifier Universal Remote Control, $100
Universal Remote Control, Inc.
(914) 835-4484
Dealer Locator Code UNV

Sony RM-AV2500, $150
At the upper end of our list is Sony's RM-AV2500 Integrated Remote Commander. This is the perfect remote for someone who has always wanted to pilot the Starship Enterprise. (A word of caution: At approximately 7 by 4.5 by 1.5 inches, some non-enthusiasts might be intimidated by this remote's size. It is more of a lap or table-top remote than it is a handheld one.) The top third of the remote is a touch-sensitive LCD screen that contains the majority of the buttons, while the lower section has hard buttons for the most-used controls (volume, channel, and navigation), as well as twelve component-selection buttons. It even has a designated button for a MiniDisc player, along with two extra buttons for whatever components you like. You can use the enclosed component codes to hook up, say, a DAT machine, or maybe even dig the Betamax out of the attic. You can teach the remote commands from an old remote using the Learn function, which is easy to accomplish, but can be time consuming.

Sony says that the RM-AV2500 is preset at the factory to operate Sony-brand components and should be useable out of the box to control all Sony A/V components. After I tested it, I found that this is not necessarily true. When I used the presets on a few different components, I found that the Sony STR-K840P and STR-K850P A/V receivers did not respond to the remote, and the supplied Sony codes did not rectify the matter. If this is your situation, be prepared to program your remote one function at a time.

That being said, once everything is set up, the Integrated Remote Commander lives up to its name. And, with 24 macro control functions, one touch is all you will need.

• Enough component-control options for a small country
• Macro-mania

At A Glance: Sony RM-AV2500 Integrated Remote commander
RF or IR: IR
Other connection types: None
Learning or Preprogrammed: Both
Buttons reassignable: Yes
Number of devices controlled: 12
Number of macros: 24
Backlighting: Yes
Batteries: 4 AA, not included
Dimensions (H x W x D, inches): 7 x 4.5 x 1.5
Weight (ounces): 12.35 (without batteries)
Price: $150

Ratings: Sony RM-AV2500 Integrated remote commander

Build Quality: 93
• Solid construction
• Hard buttons are not all illuminated

Value: 87
• Includes a good number of features
• Doesn't control all Sony products, as advertised, which makes the price questionable

Features: 94
• Buttons to control any remote device in your house
• An enormous wealth of macros

Performance: 88
• Did not control all Sony components out of the box
• Touch buttons sometimes do not respond

Ergonomics: 88
• Its large size can be an acquired taste
• Hard buttons are easy to find and identify in the dark

Overall Rating: 89
While the RM-AV2500 has loads of options, its size and lack of compatibility might make you hesitate. If you get by that, this remote can last you many years.

General Information
RM-AV2500 Integrated Remote Commander, $150
Sony Electronics Inc.
(800) 865-SONY
Dealer Locator Code SNY

So Long, and Thanks for All the Remotes. . .
There are plenty of possibilities out there—the trick is filling your own personal needs. In an ideal situation, check out a friend's remote, and see how you like it. Whatever your decision, the idea of a universal remote is to make the viewing experience more enjoyable and accessible for you and your family, so make sure they like it, too.

Logitech Harmony 676 Universal Remote Control, $200
For those of you who want to step up to the next level, there is the Logitech Harmony 676. It includes everything you need to get started, even the batteries, and setup is relatively painless. Just pop in the installation CD (PC or Mac), hook the remote up to your computer with the supplied USB cable, and log on to Logitech's Website. The online walk-through is straightforward and allows you to customize the remote functions (including button-response speed) as you go along and, later, to update the remote with the latest firmware release. Plus, when you go out and buy a new piece of gear, you can just hook the remote back up and change your settings online. Perhaps the two most impressive aspects of this remote are the intuitive nature of the button placement and the built-in macros. If you have family members or roommates who don't want lengthy instructions on how to use the remote, the macro buttons are perfect. They're color-coded and have pictures for the assigned task. As an added cosmetic bonus, the remote comes with two extra faceplates, so you can have a red, blue, or silver remote depending on your mood. While the Harmony 676 is expensive, its customization and ease of use make it worth the price.

(800) 231-7717