By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Emphasizing affordability and ease-of-use, Universal Remote Control is introducing three remote controls sold with a radio frequency (RF) receiver base-station expansion unit.
Universal is directing its new remote line toward the mid-market level, where the company said there is a "disconnect between the sophistication of A/V components and the remote controls used to manage them."
Each of the new Universal remotes features advanced infrared (IR) and RF technologies previously limited to high-end custom-installation units, said the company. In addition, each remote is compatible with Universal's new Expander (MRF-100), which provides an affordable and innovative "whole-house" solution to home-theater operation, said the company.
Called the Unifer universal and learning, programmable remote control system, the line starts with the entry-level URC-100, also called Unifer, at a suggested $100 retail. The Unifer "unifies" the access control of as many as eight audio and video entertainment system components, including a television, plasma TV, DVD player, A/V receiver and amplifier.
The Unifer comes with an internal library of over 1,000 pre-programmed codes and a DVD tutorial for programming. It's IR range is 60 feet, which climbs to between 70 and 100 feet when used along with the optional MRF-100 base station. The Unifer offers a 1 1/4-inch by 3/8-inch LCD screen and metallic finish.
The MRF-100 base station, at a suggested $75 retail, enables users to set up A/V equipment in out-of-sight locations, such as cabinets or different rooms, and comes with DVD tutorial, power supply and six flashers with 10-foot cables.
Universal's step-up model URC-200, called the Automator, is able to replace up to 10 home entertainment remote control units when paired with the base station. At a suggested $150 retail, the Automator performs more like a professional-grade remote, offering a 1 7/8-inch by 7/8-inch LCD screen, and allowing users to choose from 34 hard buttons that can be dedicated to control component functions pre-programmed into its internal memory.
The top-of-the-line URC-300, or Customizer, flagship of the four products, is able to control up to 15 devices simultaneously. At a suggested $200 retail, the unit is designed for users who need top-tier performance to command increasingly complex entertainment systems at the fraction of the cost of professional devices, said Universal.
The Customizer's "large" touch screen, 1 3/8-inch by 1 7/8-inch, reduces the need for dedicated buttons, thus making this remote more flexible than any other remote on the market, according to the company. It is able to anticipate the needs of growing, more complex systems, and is engineered for the proactive A/V enthusiast, extremely interested in whole-house automation.
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