URC Opens the Toolbox at CEDIA EXPO 2009

September 11, 2009

Collaboration and community are the names of the game in software development these days. The URC Toolbox, to be unveiled at CEDIA EXPO 2009 in Booth 1443, brings that spirit to the custom installation world.

The URC Toolbox, located on the members-only URC Control Room site (www.urccontrolroom.com), enables URC dealers, installers and industry partners to share, buy and sell control modules, templates, graphics and other programming elements they create for URC products. Most modules will be available free of charge, but users can also opt to sell their creations, generating a back-end revenue stream for their businesses in the process. Users can upload, download or purchase modules, or just browse for inspiration.


Developers keep 80 percent of the revenue generated by their contributions to the URC Toolbox. All financial transactions are conducted through the popular PayPal service. Pricing is the decision of each developer; URC expects prices for Toolbox apps will range from free-of-charge to $500 or more.

URC itself will offer a variety of hardware and software through the Toolbox, including replacement batteries, charger bases, cables and more. All of URC’s MX-6000 control modules will be free to download from the Toolbox, as will podcasts of URC training classes.

URC will have more information about the Toolbox at its booth, where it will also show loads of new products, such as its first ZigBee products (the MX-880Z remote and MRZ-260 Base Station), the first wand-style color touch screen remote with haptic (vibrating feedback) technology (the MX-5000), the ultimate iPod dock (the PSX-2 Personal Server), and single-room lighting control products that are a breeze to install and are natively controlled by a URC remote.

Beyond products, URC at CEDIA is traditionally about education and treating its dealers right, and this year is no exception. In addition to a variety of training classes, URC will offer dealers a chance to go one-on-one with URC Vice President of Technology Eric Johnson and the URC Product Development Team from 11 to noon on Thursday, to be followed by URC’s Top Gun programming contest, to be held from 12:15 to 4. Fun, games and prizes await at the contest. Both events will be held at Training Room A412. (We would be remiss to not mention that URC will give away over $250,000 worth of prizes to installers at CEDIA EXPO 2009!)

For more information, please visit URC’s online press site.

URC’s MX-5000 Delivers the Giddiness

July 30, 2009
At Universal Remote Control‘s National Sales Meeting earlier this month, I observed numerous of URC’s highly seasoned independent sales reps—guys who have been around the block so many times that they’ve seen several Starbucks open and close on said block—getting their first up-close look at URC’s new MX-5000 remote control. What I saw were quite a few middle-aged men who were instantly transformed into delighted eight-year-olds on Christmas morning opening cool, unexpected gifts.
URC raises the bar yet again on the remote control category with the MX-5000.

URC raises the bar yet again on the remote control category with the MX-5000.

They’re excited to sell this device, and it’s easy to see why. The MX-5000 is a wand-style, two-way touchscreen remote control that is the first remote to offer haptic technology. When you press a menu selection on the touchscreen, you get vibrational feedback, so it feels more like pushing a hard button. Beyond this first-of-its-kind feature, the MX-5000’s color touchscreen is sweet, and the overall form factor is way sleek and way thin, not bulky as you might expect. A professional dealer can make this thing positively sing for any lucky home entertainment connoisseur.

CrunchGear was one of many blogs whose antennae perked up when the MX-5000 was announced, so we recently sent CrunchGear’s Matt Burns a review sample. We’re still waiting on Matt’s full review (he just got it) but it speaks to the MX-5000’s allure that he wrote a post just about his unboxing of the MX-5000! We’re looking forward to his impressions of the product.

URC’s ready to rock CEDIA EXPO in September with another noteworthy product announcement or two… stay tuned!

Posted by Joe Paone

Poor Implentations of Haptic Technology

July 22, 2009

A technologicial tidal wave recently hit shores in the form of Universal Remote Control’s MX-5000 remote, the world’s FIRST remote with haptic (or tactile) feedback, and the one esteemed Gizmodo technology pundit John Herman described with the statement:

For every five products that claim some kind of haptic feedback support, maybe one actually puts it to good use—like the URC MX-5000 touchscreen remote, which uses the technology to guide your fingers while they guide your TV.” 

In case you didn’t know, haptic is defined by all-knowing Wikipedia as, “technology that interfaces with the user through the sense of touch.” From Slashgear to Ubergizmo, Engadget, CNET, Crunchgear and of course the originator, CE Pro, everyone seems to be happy about haptic and  its potential.

Given the love, I thought we’d look at products where haptic technology fails and bask in the sensory awkwardness since none can hold a tactile candle to the MX-5000. To my knowledge, no company has had the lack of foresight to develop any of these products, but then again, someone did invent this:

Appeared in June 1936 Popular Mechanics

Appeared in June 1936 Popular Mechanics

Worst Haptic Products

Haptic Coasters – Violent vibrations let you know your drink is not leaving sweat rings on the table

Haptic Bandages- Healing quickly is a thing of the past, haptic bandages make sure your wounds stay fresh and open for days

Haptic Hair-cutting Shears – For a TRULY original look

I think we found our spokesperson.

I think we found our spokesperson.






Haptic Lipstick – For that “putting make-up in the car” experience everywhere you go

Haptic Fryin Pan – A shaking motion sloshes oil on you to advise when the pan is hot enough

Haptic Chess Board – Ok, this might be kind of cool, kind of like the old Stratomatic football games

Haptic Undergarments – Don’t like where this is going…or do I?

Haptic Syringes – For hospital use only of course, patients will know their skin has been penetrated with a discomforting buzz

Posted by: Nick B.


Full Disclosure: Universal Remote Control is a client of Caster Communications

Why Dad wants a Universal Remote Control for Father’s Day

May 13, 2009

If you fancy yourself a family man with an affinity for technology and social media,  Michael Sheehan’s HighTechDad.com blog and website, “…where technology and fatherhood collide…”  is a must read. The SanFrancisco bay area resident  evangelizes technology professionally and  describes himself and his mission thusly, “Avid technologist, blogger, social media pundit, loving husband and father of 3 beautiful girls. I write about technology, gadgets, software, hardware, parenting “hacks,” and other tips & tricks. I’m a fan of all technology that is new, exciting and valuable. ”

In addition to doling out web 2.0 advice and gauging the technology pulse of readers with interactive polls, Mr. Sheehan offers comprehensive and practical product reviews aimed at facilitating more productive and efficient management of home and office technology. A perfect example is his review of Universal Remote Control’s Digital R50 remote aptly timed for Father’s Day gift hunters looking beyond the paisley neck adornment or processed meat log.

High Tech Dad’s review assesses all the relevant aspects of universal remote control usage including: ergonomics,  programming, functionality and even advanced features some folks may never even recognize exist such as:

Sofa Mode – “I thought that I should mention one really innovative feature called Sofa Mode which preserves battery life by shutting off the device after a certain period of time if a button is pressed for an extended period of time. This could be if the remote is under a pillow on a couch or something. Good thinking!”

High Tech Dad’s review is thorough and astute, convincing us of the R50’s value, but it begs the question, why would Dad want a universal remote anyways?

The most obvious answer can be summed up in a single made-up word: de-clutterfication. The lead photo for this review shows a common coffee table scene for many familes; the hodgepodge  of gray, black and white rectangle boxes used to control everything from the ceiling fan to the Betamax to the Bluray player. Unlike cooking where it’s neccessary to have a drawer full of knives so you’re not peeling apples with a meat cleaver or de-boning fish with a bread knife, digital and A/V entertainment can and should be managed as efficiently as possible.

The programming aspect scares many users but URC’s intuitive interface will make Dad feel like he’s playing with a new toy and not struggling to “Get the damn thing set up!”as he did with the multi-level DIY birdhouse from days of yore. Dad can also browse supported components with ease and program the R50 without the migraines created from scrutinizing a six-point font manual with thousands of programming codes and entering them all individually.

Technology is supposed to make our lives convenient and more efficient. In our efforts to be tech-chic, we often clutter ourselves with so many entertainment options that controlling them all can become a burden. The Digital R50 streamlines access to and control of entertainment while giving dad a sense of accomplishment and personalization as he formats its commands to his manly tastes. It may not have the smoky, overprocessed flavor of a cured meat log but I’d be willing to bet a dilapidated birhouse that most dads would be happy to receive the R50 this Father’s Day.

Posted by: Nick


The Ultimate iPod Dock

March 26, 2009

Here at CasterBlog, we’re not above the occasional bit of self-promotion (or rather, promotion on behalf of our clients) every now and then, particularly when it’s warranted, as is so often the case with our clients. So please indulge me here.

Universal Remote Control has a sick new product called the PSX-2 Personal Server that is the ultimate iPod dock. Bar none. End of story.

Universal Remote Control PSX-2 Personal Server

Universal Remote Control PSX-2 Personal Server

The PSX-2 essentially turns your iPod into a full-featured music server.

You know how most iPod docks provide a TV screen interface that basically mimics the iPod menus? The PSX-2 (which you can control via a remote and a TV or, for the real high-end, URC’s swanky MX-6000 touch screen), transforms those iPod menus into a much more user-friendly and much more functional interface that lets you do things with your iPod you could never do before.

For example, with the PSX-2, you can “Play More from This Artist/Genre/etc,” or shuffle on similar parameters (for example, “Shuffle Indie Rock”).

You can create on-the-fly-playlists, which makes the iPod more convenient and social, especially in a party environment.

You get alpha search capability. No more need to get endlessly jiggy with the scroll wheel to find an artist whose name begins with “T”, for example.

You get cover art!

The PSX-2 interface on a TV screen.

The PSX-2 interface on a TV screen.

There’s no longer a need to navigate through seemingly endless nests of iPod menus to get to what you want.

And it’s so much more. But I’ll stop there.

URC’s Mitchell Klein put together a cute lo-fi video that displays some of the PSX-2’s capabilities.

If you’re a serious iPod user and you want to get the most out of the little bugger, I highly suggest you check the PSX-2 out. Here’s where you can get your very own.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled CasterMusings, already in progress.

Posted by Joe Paone

URC Helps Installers Find Employment Opportunities

November 21, 2008

Let’s face it, the economy is headed up the creek without a paddle. As we constantly see, budgets are being tightened, hundreds of people are loosing their jobs everyday. Without extra income, the CE industry is starting to feel the pressure. Many custom installers have been laid off in the past few months in order for owners to be able to keep their doors open. With the CI industry facing such hardships, installers are finding it difficult to find work. Universal Remote Control is taking an extra step to help their dealers find employment opportunities.

Today, URC launched the “Hook Up” forum on their dealer Control Room site. This forum is designed to help URC installers that have lost their jobs network with other installers around the country to help find new employment opportunities.

It’s called Hook Ups, and it’s a special Forum where custom installation professionals can network and exchange information about employment opportunities.

Need a gig, full time or part time? Interested in a freelance assignment? Maybe you’re looking to contract on a project or two?

Are you a retailer (maybe a user?) with a remote you need programmed? Do you want help with an installation; perhaps you want to contract a project, or hire from a pool of talented URC programmers.

We’ve Got Your back
Let’s face facts: things are getting tough out there, and some big retailers are closing up shop. URC wants to do its part to help YOU stay in the industry—and help you hook up with a company that may need that special programming or installation talent you possess.


URC has gone above and beyond the call of duty in ensuring that their dealers are secure. They are making every effort to help their installers through these hard times, and for that we must commend them.

Do you know of any other companies who are taking similar measures?

Posted by: Lauren