PROS / The URC R50 controls up to 18 devices.
CONS / A single sheet of instructions is included with the remote instead of a user guide.
VERDICT / The R50 gives consumers what they need: functionality and on-screen set up.
The Universal Remote Control R50 is the number four product in our side-by-side comparison for universal remotes, and it definitely fell behind our number three product, the Logitech Harmony 650 in certain categories. We appreciate the 18 devices that can be supported by this all-inclusive remote, but find the lack of help and support options every off-putting. The learning mode function, backlit buttons and option to use simple AA batteries, however, pushed the R50 ahead of the remaining products.
The features list for the URC R50 may not be brimming with extras like Logitech's Harmony One, but it does have all of the necessary features we know consumers need to have in a universal remote.
One feature that we think consumers will love (because we do) is the "punch through" control for the channel, transport and on-screen display. The punch through control allows individual buttons to be programmed for several different functions. For example, for transport control, you can program the play, stop, pause, skip, etc., buttons to operate for as both DVD and DVR controls, as well as additional component modes.
The learning mode function is especially helpful. While this mode can be found on other universal remotes in our side-by-side comparison, but because of the disjointed on-screen setup and device code selection on the URCR50, we believe the learning mode function could prove to be an easier setup route for this remote.
This all-in-one remote is ergonomically designed, but not as well as the Logitech Harmony One or the Logitech Harmony 700, our top two universal remote products. The front of the R50 has a unique design that we find appealing, and the buttons are organized in a logical order, which every consumer will love.
The color screen of the R50 is not a touch screen, unfortunately, but the activity and channel icons can be seen on the screen and their designated buttons are located conveniently on the side.
The URC R50 universal remote does not have the option of a docking cradle or even rechargeable batteries for power management, but we actually like that simple AA batteries that can be purchased at any store are used instead of expensive rechargeable batteries.
The help and support options for this programmable media center remote are non-existent. Yes, the universal remote can be programmed with an on-screen setup wizard or using the learning mode function, but besides this, no user manual is provided, no online technical support can be accessed and the Universal Remote Control website has very little information regarding its own products (which is bizarre).
For many, the idea of being able to program a universal remote without requiring internet connection is very appealing. Unlike the Logitech Harmony remote line, the URC R50 relies solely on an on-screen wizard set up. With that said, we also have to mention that this remote comes with only a single sheet of instructions, yes, a single sheet. So, while not having to use the internet may be helpful to some, not being able to access an interactive chat line or an online PDF user manual, may prompt low consumer ratings for others.
We have a small issue with the setup wizard on this universal remote. Unlike the Logitech Harmony line of universal remotes where device codes can be found and easily programmed, the wizard asks not for the device code, but what make and model your desired device is and then finds the code that it believes will best fit your remote. After choosing the code, it is your turn to test that code. If the remote wizard was wrong in its decision, you must start the process over again, which we find to be a bit tedious.
The configuration time for this remote can be 30-45 minutes or longer, depending on your technical skill level, your comfort in flying without a user guide, and the wizard's accuracy in choosing the correct device code on the first try.
The Universal Remote Control R50 universal remote did give us some great features like "punch through" control, a fantastic button layout and one-touch activity buttons, but it was unable to reach our expectations for help and support options.