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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Universal Remote WR7


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15 replies to this topic

#1 ONLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 04:56 PM

I was walking through Target yesterday and saw that the URC WR7 was on sale for $20. I wanted to get a Harmony for my new bedroom HR24, and since this remote claimed to have 13 macro enabled buttons I bought it.

It was easy enough to program after I figured out that the only way to set up the discrete codes to change inputs on my TV was to use my Harmony in learning mode. Short of having another remote that the WR7 can learn from, there isn't another way to set up automatic input switching.

My macros for it are simple as I only have the TV, HR24, sound bar and Apple TV. I use the on/off button for everything and my macros only set the TV input and assign controls for that component. Audio controls in all functions control the sound bar.

It's a nice enough remote being, a little heavier than a Harmony. It seems to be well made and the buttons controlled backlight is nice even though it's red.

It's a little quirky to program and you need another remote to teach it discrete codes, but it's a great remote for $20.

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#2 OFFLINE   paulman182

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 08:39 AM

I wish I liked the URC remotes. I don't like the feel of those soft rubbery buttons.

I do have this remote and it does work well, but it has been replaced by a Harmony.

Equipment includes a buncha stuff that I no longer have interest in detailing


#3 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 08:40 AM

I think for $20 it's a solid little piece of equipment. If you can afford a little more, though, I think the Harmonys are a better deal.
Opinions expressed by me are my own and do not necessarily reflect
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#4 ONLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 09:18 AM

It wasn't that I didn't have $60 for a Harmony, it's that I didn't want to put a $60 remote in my bedroom for 2 devices.

There are things that I don't like about it:

1. No true activities. When I hit the button to switch to my Apple TV the D* DVR stays on. Not a big deal, but on my 6 Harmony's when I switch functions, the unused stuff turns off.

2. Having to use a Harmony to teach my URC the discrete codes to change inputs on my TV. My single activity Harmony in the drawer can do this without another remote to teach it commands.

3. Having to use separate on/off buttons. If you program on/off as part of the macro you have to have the discrete codes set up to not shut off everything. I might dig in to this deeper, I might not.

4. It's big and bulky. It weighs twice as much as my 650 and is much harder to use one handed.

5. The buttons do suck. They're laid out fine, but they feel weird and the silk screening is tough to read in low light even with the backlight. And the backlight makes the colored buttons impossible to discern given that it shines red like a fuggin Christmas tree.

6. Last, the setup. I bought 3 Harmony 650 remotes at the same time. It took me 45 minutes to unbox them, collect all model numbers, program the remotes and have them in use. More than 3 hours spent setting this one remote up and I'm still not totally happy with the results.

I'm keeping it for now. My wife used it for the first time last night and she didn't come out complaining about it. I'll likely buy a Harmony 700 for my family room setup, so I'll have a 650 available at some point.

Edited by dualsub2006, 23 November 2011 - 10:29 AM.


#5 OFFLINE   John Williams

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 08:51 PM

I use this remote for customers all the time, they love it.
I have access to all the different remote databases however, to learn codes into the remote for equipment. Without a 'good' source for codes to send into the remote (or any remote like this), it can be easy to have a bad experience with it. Or use equipment that doesn't play nice with control systems (i.e. no discrete IR codes).

On this particular remote, programming takes me about 30 minutes on average.
I start by getting all the pre-programmed codes entered in. Next, I learn all the discrete power codes for each device. Then I learn the discrete codes I need for the Audio & TV onto the number buttons and such. Then I build the power macros - OFF turns everything in the system off. ON turns everything on. And finally the device macros: pressing those switch the TV inputs, amp inputs, etc...
Test everything out (do adjustments as needed), show the customer how to use it, done!

For $20, it's the best remote you can buy for the money.
Comparing it to a $60+ remote is like comparing your girlfriend to your grandmother.:nono2:

#6 ONLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 09:29 PM

John, just how in the hell do you teach this remote discrete codes?

My one real big letdown with it was wanting unused devices (my HR24) to go off when I'm on my Apple TV or OTA activity. I set up the discrete on/off codes for the HR in a Harmony 300 of all things and then I learned the WR7 the codes. I set my macros up again and now I really like it, though the red backlight is still

I can deal with the separate on/off buttons now that I have my 3 activities set up and working well. Myharmony.com had an on code for my Vizio TV but it didn't work.

Edit: I know that there is a page in the manual to enter a discrete code, but that did not work for me. I entered the codes for my DVD player and got nowhere with it.

#7 OFFLINE   John Williams

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 10:32 AM

I use an old URC MX900 to send codes from the URC database, an RTI T1-B to send codes out of the RTI database, and I use to use a Pronto for hex codes but I use the URC software for that now as well.
The 30 minutes to program doesn't count having to setup odd components, as should be obvious. It can take an additional 30 minutes sometimes to find and program the URC & RTI remotes with the codes I need for a complicated or troublesome equipment.
I also charge $75 for this service, so including the remote (which I sell at $25) - it's $100 to the customer to have it in thier hands and working. Much cheapier than the $400-$800 remote systems I sell but works well for those simple systems that don't need something like that.

For a DIY, you could get an old Philips Pronto remote off ebay for well under $100 that would allow you access to the software to program other remotes with using hex code you could find off of Remote Central, etc...
Just be prepared to spend many hours learning the software and figuring everything out. Once you get a feel for programming, other platforms can be learned quicker. I think it took me 40+ hours to get good at programming Prontos back in the 90's. When I picked up URC, their software took me less than 20 hours to become proficient. Then RTI, less than 10 hours playing with it. It seems it doesn't take me long at all to pickup on new programming software now; but it does take time - to be good with it anyway.
I once programmed a Sonance system that should have taken only an hour. It took me 4 hours because it was the first time I ever touched the software. Customer couldn't find a programmer that did Sonance on a regular basis however, so I agreed to do it.

[edit]: Oh, I agree - the red backlighting is the biggest pain with this remote. I can't for the life of me understand how they could have done that. Clearly the first time you use the remote in the dark, you can see the issue it causes with the colored buttons. What is even more of a head scratcher, is the fact this remote has been on the market for many years now and still they haven't fixed that issue - how hard can it really be to spec a hardware change for a different color backlight?

Edited by John Williams, 26 November 2011 - 10:39 AM.


#8 ONLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 10:42 PM

I use an old URC MX900 to send codes from the URC database

Yeah, I taught the codes to a Harmony 300i and then from there I taught them to the WR7. I had absolutely no luck at all entering them directly into the WR7.

Having had it now for a week or so, I really like the remote. It lacks the spit and polish that a Harmony [even my lowly 300i] has, but now that I have it set up mostly the way that I want it I like it.

I'm not sure if I'll buy the R50 or not, but I've got a Harmony 650 that won't last much longer. Now that I've figured out how to make these work, I might buy again.

And I'll say, I figured this remote out on my own. I emailed URC for help, got none. I used The Google to try to find some help, found none.

#9 OFFLINE   John Williams

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 11:00 AM

Hmmm.... I've never had a code that wouldn't learn into a URC remote, including the WR7. Things to note when learning codes to a remote:
1) Be aware of ambient light. Plasma, LCD, CFL, sunlight, etc... throw off a ton of IR energy. If any light from these devices can be seen by the IR eye trying to learn on the remote, it can blind it making it not able to learn the code. If you are having trouble learning a code and not sure if it might be environment related, go to a dark closet or similar and try.
2) Vary the distance. If a code won't learn, try to learn the code from the target remote at a different distance. Depending on the strength of the IR from the remote, you might have to put the remotes just an inch from each other; or you might have to hold them 2 feet from each other to get a good read.
3) On code repeating buttons like volume, cursor, etc... You might have to 'feather' the button to get it to learn properly. [feathering: tap the button as fast as you can while learning]. This can also solve Samsung volume problems where the remote only increases/decreases volume in 1 increments. Sometimes you might have to hold the button to learn, the entire time it is trying to learn it and that will work.

There are other things to consider as well but this covers the basics of trying to learn codes into a remote.

[edit]: If not a single code would learn from the Harmony remote to the WR7 you tried, I'm pretty sure it's an issue with the way the Harmony remote is sending out the code (didn't have it set to RF only did you?). Or you were not entering the learning process correctly on the WR7 - hold device button you want to learn to and 'ENT' untill the light stays lit for the device, select button to learn code to, learn code, press another button to learn or hold device button and 'ENT' again to save.

Edited by John Williams, 28 November 2011 - 11:09 AM.


#10 ONLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 07:22 PM

No, I described things wrong. I had discrete codes that I couldn't get to work with the WR7. Using the Harmony remote to teach the WR7 was what made me decide to keep the WR7 and not return it.

The Harmony method works, entering the discrete code directly into the remote did not. At least not for me.

#11 OFFLINE   mdavej

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 11:52 PM

You can enter discrete codes directly into the $15 RCA RCRP05B without learning. You can also program it from your computer like harmony with an optional cable, adding true activities with device state tracking. Unlike harmony, you can nest macros for a practically unlimited number of steps, put up to 5 functions on a single button (short press, long press, double press, shifted and double shifted), playback macros extremely fast, create and load your own protocols and devices, analyze IR signals, import pronto hex, have practically unlimited devices via multiplexing and read or replace the entire remote config in about 3 seconds on almost any platform (pc, mac, linux). Like myharmony, you can drag and drop functions onto buttons on a graphic of the actual remote.

The RCA and other UEI remotes like it are by far the most powerful remotes for the lowest possible cost available anywhere.

#12 ONLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 12:29 AM

I've read a lot about the RCA remotes on other forums and thought about getting one to toy with, but I doubt that I would ever switch allegiance. I don't have any need for that many devices on a single remote and I'd never want to sit and try to remember what key combination executes which macro. I'd rather have a a single button to hit and be done with it.

The price can't be beat, but for simplicity of operation and to make every TV using member of my family happy, I go with the Harmony remotes. The WR7, while ugly in comparison to the Harmony is very familiar in terms of function and everyone that uses that TV has no issue with it. The RCA remotes have features that my Harmony and WR7 remotes don't have, but they are features that I'm just not interested in.

Besides that, I just have a real issue with anything that says RCA on it, regardless who actually makes it.

#13 OFFLINE   mdavej

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 07:01 AM

Well, all those additional features don't have to be used. You can make the RCA work as simply as you want, exactly like your WR7 or harmony, i.e., one button does it all. For "Watch TV", I just press the TV button on my RCA, very easy and intuitive.

There at least 100 models like the RCA, including an exact one-for-all clone, with all sorts of different names (one-for-all, toshiba, tivo, slingbox, vizio, insignia, comcast, charter, time warner, cox, dreambox, sky, replay, jensen, kilpsh, kenwood, radio shack, etc.), so take your pick if one rubs you the wrong way. They're just words silkscreened onto a UEI remote. It just so happens that the RCA version is cheap and available most anywhere. I only posted because most of the WR7 dislikes you listed are overcome by the cheaper RCA.

#14 ONLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 10:15 AM

Well, all those additional features don't have to be used. You can make the RCA work as simply as you want, exactly like your WR7 or harmony, i.e., one button does it all. For "Watch TV", I just press the TV button on my RCA, very easy and intuitive.

I remember why I decided to pass on that RCA remote - no backlight. It was an absolute must have feature and the RCA didn't have it. And, I've had the Vizio universal remote. If UEI made that one, I don't want another one. It was about the same price as the RCA, but Vizio sent it to me for free because of a remote issue with one of my TV sets. Maybe it was a different model not made by UEI, but it was the Vizio universal remote. No thanks.

I'm really down to only being disappointed with the red backlight, but even that doesn't bother me anymore. I've adjusted to the fact that the buttons are just a different size and texture from my Harmony buttons. The red backlight? Well, it can make it hard to discern which color button is which, but now everyone knows that the order is Y,B,R,G. The backlight gets you in the general vicinity and you take it from there. As seldom as those buttons are used, I wouldn't make a change based on that fact.

I've discovered that having to use the power button seperate from the activity button isn't actually an issue. 90% of the time, the TV and DVR are turned off in Sat mode, so you hit power and you're ready to go. The few times that it all turned on in Apple TV mode, one press of the Sat button and all is right with the world.

Setup? Yeah, there was that one, but I've got it down now. I set up another one and it took me about 30 minutes, which is perfectly reasonable to me. 8 devices, 5 TV inputs, 2 devices on HDMI switcher and 6 total activities. Again, not as easy as the Harmony, but 30 minutes to prgraom all of those devices and have the activity buttons work (that TV had discrete on/off codes that worked) in the same way as Harmony activities is worth every dime of $20 to me.

Size? Yeah, there was that, but it just took a few days of using it regularly to adjust to the fact that it isn't a Harmony. The person that complained about that the least was my wife. Her hands are much smaller than mine and her one comment about the size and weight of the remote was made when I handed it to her. Not another word since.

I'm really happy with what I have. I didn't set out to get the cheapest remote possible, I wasn't even looking for a remote when I found this one. I wanted multiple devices with multiple activities that did Harmony like things for much less money than a 600/650. I found it. I'm thinking of writing an eBook on how to program this thing. There is little if any help out there for people that buy them on how to do the setup.

#15 OFFLINE   mdavej

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:40 PM

UEI makes a lot of remotes, including your DirecTV remotes, so the quality generally isn't bad. I know you're happy with the WR7 and am not trying to change your mind, but I use the backlit UEI remote below which is otherwise equivalent to the RCA, in case anyone else is interested. I have yet to find any backlit remote that preserves the colored buttons.
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#16 ONLINE   dualsub2006

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 11:11 AM

UEI makes a lot of remotes, including your DirecTV remotes, so the quality generally isn't bad.

I'm aware of that, and if the D* remote offered some activities I would have been happy to use them. I'm aware that it really isn't in D*'s interest to have me hit a button on the D* remote to switch over to my Roku to watch Netflix.

UEI remotes are great, but given a choice I'd rather have a remote with the name of the company that made it rather than a budget brand name like RCA or Insignia. Not that it wouldn't still be the UEI remote, just that in the back of my mind it would always be garbage.

I'm not one that always has to have the best of the best, but there are names that I like to avoid at all cost.




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