Component Reviews

Universal Remote Control MX-6000 2-Way Touch Panel Universal Remote PSX-2 iPod Interface Dock


Published on July 5, 2010

Universal Remote Control MX-6000 2-Way Touch Panel
Universal Remote PSX-2 iPod Interface Dock
Universal Remote Control MX-6000 2-Way Touch Panel
Universal Remote PSX-2 iPod Interface Dock

Universal Remote Control MX-6000 2-Way Touch Panel
SRP: $1500
[$1259 at Amazon]

IR, RF and Wi-Fi (802.11 B/G) Remote Control, receives artists, albums, songs for cover art, news, sports, weather and stocks.  The unit is compatible with the MSC-400 Controller offering RS-232, IR, relay control and with MRF-260 (4 IR outputs) and MRF-350 (6 IR outputs with separate antenna) RF bases for IR control of standard components.  PC Server software enables media server control on any PC with iTunes or Windows Media Player.  Automated backlighting motion sensor; animation in color; 4.3” screen with 480×272 resolution; scroll wheel; graphic, sound and animated GIF or FLASH capable; four hour continuous use, 10 day standby, charging base, 7.5” x 5.1” x 1.3”, 15 ounces, 15kHz to 455kHz learning, 255 step macro with nesting, one-year parts and labor warranty. [Page on their site.]


Universal Remote PSX-2 iPod Interface Dock

SRP: $400

iPod dock with two-way functionality and discrete IR commands.  Browse on TV or from MX-6000 remote; compatible with all URC remotes; synchronize with PSXLink software for Macs and PCs.  “Play More From” feature to hear more from a particular artist; shuffling between genres or artists; personal playlists; alphabetical search; 6.75” x 5” x 1.6”; 15 ounces; 20-30′ IR range; Component video output; RCA L/R analog outputs; one-year parts and labor warranty. [Page on their site.]

Universal Remote Control, Inc.
500 Mamaroneck Ave.
Harrison, NY 10528
800-901-0800 (voice)
914-835-4532 (fax)


Associated Equipment

Meridian 568.2MM Processor, Oppo DV-980H DVD player, Dish Network ViP622 HD DVR, Popcorn Hour A-110, Extron Matrix 200 Switcher, Auton projector lift, Optoma HD8600 projector, Universal Remote MSC-400 Control Processor.

Setup and Info

This is my first remote control review, so I was very excited to run the MX-6000 through its paces.  This remote is listed under the Professional line of URC products and requires programming by the dealer/installer.  The software is proprietary and not available to the consumer.

Inside the box is a small manual that includes instructions on installing the battery, using the rechargeable base (included), setting button brightness, sleep mode, screen brightness, date and time, power settings, pickup settings and calibration.  There is a cord needed to connect to the computer for programming as well.  The remote is fairly sizable and would be considered a two-handed remote (similar to a Crestron touch panel).  The volume being on the left took a little getting used to but the choice to put the toggle wheel on the right makes sense (it can work like a volume knob if desired).

The remote transmits signals via IR, RF or Wi-Fi depending on the configuration and type of device/operation.  Line of sight devices like my preamp and Blu-ray player were operated via IR.  Other devices (satellite and media player) worked via RF through an MSC-400 controller.  My projector lift was set to work via relays and my matrix switcher was controlled via RS-232.  My projector can be controlled via RS-232 as well, but it was set up for IR control (it was a review piece and was going back soon, and it was just easier).

The Universal iPod dock had its own special control programming with the MX-6000.  My office computer (that housed some of music library and iTunes) was controlled via the network and via Wi-Fi from the remote.  In addition to being able to access the music library on my computer and play it through my system (the computer is connected as an audio source), the remote allows for web surfing and RSS feeds like news, weather, etc.

Large icons populated the main screen which, when selected, changed to show the functions available for that device.  A touchscreen allows for ultimate flexibility and any button that exists on a conventional remote can be put on the MX-6000 remote (if desired).

One of the big advantages of any programmed remote is the ability to execute macros.  In effect this means that one push of the remote executes multiple functions.  This means that by selecting the DVD icon the remote can turn the audio system on, select the correct input, turn on the DVD itself and start it playing, drop a projector lift, turn on the projector, select the correct input, switch the source device on a switcher, dim the lights, etc.  Once programmed, the MX-6000 operated my system seamlessly.

Additionally, this remote can perform logic operations with variables, sensing and IF ELSE statements.  This means that if you happen to be watching a DVD and want to switch to satellite, the remote can check if the lift is down, the projector is on, etc. and avoids having to make the user wait for this to happen all over again.  Many TVs have a warm up time before you can switch sources and AV receivers need a delay before sending commands if the power is off as well.  Using these logic statements can not only make the system more bullet-proof, but they can also speed up operation.  Most remotes cannot do this.

The remote supports sound and the look of the display can be altered by the programmer to the taste of the client/consumer.  The MX-6000 can integrate directly with other URC lighting product or control third-party systems that operate via RS-232 (just about every manufacturer) and components with two-way modules can display operational data (like volume) directly on the remote itself.

PSX-2 Installation and Setup

The PSX-2 comes with an AC adapter and a mini-to-mini plug for IR control and metal brace.  The back of the unit offers component video output, analog RCA outs, a connection to the network via RJ45, a light button and a way to reset the unit.

The manual that comes with the unit describes operation after the device has already been installed and remote has been programmed.  The dock label (in the front) can be replaced and customized (which would be nice if there is more than one in a system).  Two docks can be attached with a metal brace that comes with the PSX-2.  

As a side note, you can use the PSX-2 as a conventional dock if you like, and use the controls right on the front of the iPod.


Operation of PSX-2 with MX-6000

When the remote is connected there is a Wi-Fi indicator that illuminates.  There is Link software that installs on the host computer that will enable the consumer to make changes to iTunes and sync the iPod without taking it out of the PSX-2 and needing to connect it directly to the computer—neat!
 
Initially, connection to the dock (by the remote) takes less than 10 seconds.  The screen shows cover art, song title, artist and album.  To the left are shortcuts, shuffle, jukebox, and more.  Below, the hard buttons give you play, stop, pause, forward, rewind, skip forward and skip backward.  The menu offers the choice of playlist, artists, albums, songs, podcasts, genres, composers, audiobook and video.

“Shortcuts” lets you go to these choices directly with icons on the screen.  “More” lets you play more from the artist, the album, the genre or the composer.  “Jukebox” lets you create a playlist on the fly, add items or albums, see what is already in the jukebox, play it or clear it.  Pushing “info” gives you an indicator with track length and how far in you are.

When viewing the menu you can use the dial on the right (just like an iPod) or push up or down on it like a normal remote to go up or down.  Additionally, in the menu, there is a search function where you can type in letters or numbers and you even have the option of an alphabetical list of letters or for the display to be in a standard keyboard layout.  Anyone who has previously used an iPod will be able to figure this out in no time—I found it even easier than an iPod to navigate.

The first sample of the PSX-2 failed the third time I tried to use it (sound only came out of the right channel), but the second sample worked fine.

Conclusion

They say absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Day by day I see more and more applications being offered for the iPhone.  One day electronic devices will offer control we have only dreamed about in the past.  URC is one of the companies at the forefront of remote control devices for the home and continues to expand their lineup and capabilities.  They added automation functionality and now they have lighting and 2-way control of the iPod (and other devices).  With a control processor like the MSC-400 it’s possible to control just about anything you can imagine and automate its operation:  Drapes, screen, lights, heating and air, security and pretty much whatever you want at your fingertips.  

If you are considering one of the various touch panel controls and you don’t want to break the bank yet get something of quality, the MX-6000 should be on your short list.  And for iPod compatibility with either the 6000 or 5000 remotes the PSX-2 is a must-have.

Brian Bloom
big_brian_b@hotmail.com




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