Universal Remote URC-300 Customizer and MRF-100 Expander Reviewed

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This quick review was delayed a few times, but that was somewhat intentional. It's no secret that movie studios like to delay the release of certain films on DVD so that they can coincide with a film's anniversary. I thought it fitting to mark my two-year anniversary with ETC. Magazines with a remote control review, since my first review was Universal's MX-500 back in 2002. So here I am, two years older, arguably wiser, and faced once again with a full-featured remote from Universal Remote Control. If you're ready to torch that pile of remotes and you're looking for control without barriers, the Customizer and Expander may be just what the doctor ordered.

Additional Resources
• Read more remotes and system control reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find an AV receiver to program into the URC-300.

Unique Features 
If there's one thing common to most remote controls, it's the inability to see through walls, the couch and the family dog. Elaborate aiming measures must often be taken before a successful register of the infrared signal. This is because most remotes only emit infrared (IR) commands, and line-of-sight to the component is critical. The Customizer emits both infrared and radio (RF) signals. When you add the Expander radio receiver, the RF commands are converted to infrared and self-adhesive "flashers" are affixed to the front panels of
your gear to receive the IR commands.

Also noteworthy on the Customizer is its use of a touch-screen display instead of hard buttons on the top half of the remote. I'm a little mixed on this subject; if I wanted a touch screen, I'd buy a Pronto. That said, the Customizer's screen worked well and sensitivity was good.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The URC line of remotes from Universal is marketed as their "consumer" line, while the MX series is considered "custom/professional." There is a tremendous amount of overlap in functionality, and advanced users shouldn't feel embarrassed for considering the consumer-friendly Customizer. As far as I can tell, the biggest difference between the URC and MX series is the packaging. The URC-300 Customizer comes with a handy setup and tutorial on DVD, in addition to a well-written and lengthy user manual.

Read more about the URC-300 on Page 2.

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