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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Review: One For All URC-7962 Smart Control Motion universal remote control

The Smart Control Motion URC-7962 is an updated and improved version of One For All's URC-7960 Smart Control, which I reviewed In 2010 for Computeractive. I was very impressed with the original (and I still use it as my main remote), so was interested to see whether this revamped model could improve on features without compromising the excellent usability of the original.

The URC-7962 uses the same physical design and key layout as its predecessor

It still supports up to six devices, chosen via a selector button near the top.  It includes one TV by default, although it can be configured to operate more than one of each device by reprogramming these keys (how to do this is not explained in the manual, but in an ‘Extra Features’ leaflet at http://www.oneforall.com/uploads/support/94895ef5c3b567e510cedc42ab0233e9.pdf)

At first glance, the Smart Control Motion looks very similar to its predecessor, and the button layout is identical, although one or two have new labels, such as 'media' instead of 'game' for one of the device buttons, and 'www' instead of  'pop-up X'. But there are subtle differences. Instead of a black fascia, it's dark metallic grey and all-glossy instead of the half glossy/half soft-touch paint finish of the original - this new colour scheme certainly seems to hide fingerprints much better than the original.

The rear of the remote uses the same grippy soft-touch black paint. The keys are still hard rubber, but have a much more positive ‘click’ action than the URC-7960. The layout is superbly designed and the balance and weighting are just right, so you can operate any key without having to resort to using two hands (yes, Logitech, I’m looking at you). There are 41 keys in all, with transport controls and standard STB controls grouped together around the central 5-way navigation paddle.

One of my big gripes about the URC-7960 was the lack of backlighting for the keys - that’s now been fixed, with a subtle white backlight (is the blue LED craze finally over? I certainly hope so). This turns on for a few seconds when the remote is moved, or it can be toggled on and off by pressing the Magic key briefly. It can’t be left on permanently, though. The numbers and letters on the keys have been made larger to make the lighting more effective.


The backlight is a welcome new feature. And it's white, despite it looking blue here!

The URC-7962 uses One For All’s clever Simple Set procedure for setting up devices. This is a brilliant idea - press the Magic button for three seconds, choose the device type with the selector key, hold the number key corresponding to the device type and brand (from the table in the instructions) until the device turns off, and that’s it.

In most cases all the major controls should then be assigned correctly. If not, they can be tweaked by learning individual keys from the original remote. If the device doesn’t work at all, tedious manual code entry needs to be used. One For All also has a free Key Magic service where they will give you codes to program special keys that aren’t on the Smart Control. This service can also be used to program the URS-7962 to replicate a lost or broken remote, as long as you have the model details available.

Once done, the Smart Control buttons are available for controlling multiple devices. For example, setup the Watch TV button for TV and STB and it intelligently divides the controls between them - the volume works on the TV, channels on the STB. Additionally, another handy new feature lets you turn off all devices associated with that particular Smart Control by pressing the power button for three seconds. Of course, if they have stateless power toggles (like most devices these days) doing this can also turn them on.

There are 10 possible preset combinations spread over the three Smart Control buttons, but any unused Smart Control buttons can be programmed with macros - a feature that I belatedly discovered is also available on the URC-7960 (the details are in an addendum to the manual that’s only available on the website). Any sequence of key presses can be recorded (I programmed one key to turn off four devices) but frustratingly here's no indication in the manual how many individual macro steps are supported. 

The final headline-grabbing new feature is the motion control. Six gestures are supported that have different effects for different devices. The video below shows it in action, and although it works well enough it’s still a bit of a gimmick. The two features I found myself using most were the ‘flip’ that turns off all devices when you flip the remote face-down, and the double-tap on the side of the remote to mute a device. Motion control can be deactivated if needed.

This new model is a welcome improvement over the URC-7960, retaining its ease of setup, great design and quality feel, but adding enough useful new features to make it worth an upgrade. In terms of both features and ergonomics it outperforms many similar models costing two or three times as much (it's certainly much more ergonomic than the pricier One For All Xsight Light 6-device model, for example, and it's much better value than the similarly-priced but peculiarly-designed Logitech Harmony 300i 4-device remote). If six devices is enough for you, it’s one of the best value universal remotes out there.

Details
Model: One For All Smart Control Motion URC-7962
Price: £34.99 inc VAT
Manufacturer's website: One For All






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13 comments:

  1. This is a very useful review. It's now the first time I'm excited about getting a new remote control. Especially as it means I can pretend to be a Wizard (I'm 30 Years Old!).

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I still use this as my main remote, although I've disabled the motion controls. Even without these, it's better than the original due to the backlight and better materials.

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  2. Is there a way to factory reset the device?

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    Replies
    1. Certainly! It's in the 'extra features' PDF:
      The Operational reset will erase all learned functions across all modes and some other programmed functions like Key Magic and Macros.

      1) Press and hold the magic key for 3 sec. --> The Blue ring will light up twice.
      2) Press 9 8 0. The Blue ring will light up twice.

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  3. How do you deactivate the motion controls?

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    Replies
    1. Press and hold the MAGIC button until all keys light up twice, then press OK - all keys will then flash 4 times.

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    2. Is there a delay option like the old kameleon when setting macro? I haven't found it yet. I need to have a delay for a couple of second after the TV switches on to switch to HDMI

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    3. No, I don't think there's a delay option.

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  4. Is there a memory loss after battery change?

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    Replies
    1. I've changed batteries several times, and the settings are preserved. I don't know how long they are stored for, but if you change them in a few minutes shouldn't be a problem.

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  5. Hi, I am having a problem setting up my macros - I need a 2-3 secs hold on the power on/off switch for my Panasonic plasma TV, do you know how to achieve this?

    I also need to be able to switch the TV AV inputs when selecting either TV or the DVD player (STB to TV is on AV1, DVD to TV on AV2). My Denon AV amp automatically switches inputs to match the source in use - so that isn't a problem. Any help you can provide will be gratefully received.

    Regards, Dave

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    Replies
    1. Hi Guys, I can answer the question regarding the time period in which settings are preserved - the instructions say that once a used set of batteries are removed you have 10 minutes to fit new ones.

      Regards,

      Dave

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