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UCommand 616 Remote Control Review
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Crisp Solutions UCommand 616 Remote Control

Our review has been updated with information on the improved UCommand 626 on the final page.

Crisp Solutions UCommand 616
Click to enlarge. (55kb)
When Crisp Solutions named their previous product the UCommand, it seems they were actually starting a series of universal remote controls. Announced as the big brother to the UCommand 515, the $199 USD UCommand 616 distinguishes itself by featuring a number of hard buttons – anything higher than zero is an improvement – a greater repertoire of features, more customization, plus the ability to hook up to a computer for extra-easy setup.

You may see various remotes that look physically identical to the UC-616, sold under different names. This is because Crisp Solutions is buying a particular product and marketing it in North America, just as another company might do in a different part of the world. But while most companies would simply sell whatever they were provided with, Crisp goes beyond that by performing full testing on the product before they’ll even consider putting their name on it. Bugs are fixed. Manuals are rewritten. Real support is provided.

For those that desire the hands-on approach...
The UCommand 616 remote is 8.25" (21cm) long and a slender 0.9" (2.25cm) thick, slightly tapering from 2.75" (7cm) wide at the top to 2.5" (6.3cm) at the bottom. A large LCD screen is located in the upper half and eight hard buttons are positioned just below. The combination of customizable screens and real buttons is rapidly becoming quite popular as manufacturers realize that users don’t like only having an LCD, but still want to do more than is possible with only physical buttons. At the very bottom of the remote is the learning eye, located between the connectors of the optional docking station. Through those connectors you can recharge batteries and transfer files to and from your computer.

The eight multi-purpose hard buttons are arranged in a logical layout, but seem labeled with too many possible functions. For instance, the four center controls are marked for menu, transport and channel/volume purposes. Without knowing how the remote was programmed, it would be anyone’s guess as to what their functions were. Surrounding those four buttons is an [OFF] key that shuts the screen off while on the Main Menu or acts as a usable button under any device, plus a regular [POWER] button, a [MUTE/ENTER] button and, finally, a [MENU] key. Alas, [MENU] cannot be used with your devices’ menu functions – it is hard-coded to only return to the main menu from within a device.

Crisp Solutions UCommand 616
Click to enlarge. (35kb)
"Aluminesque"
On the backside of the remote there’s not too much of interest, save the battery compartment. This is the first remote I’ve seen that uses three AAA batteries. Non-volatile memory keeps your settings safe without power. Two rubber feet are placed at the top of the remote, but are made of such hard material that they provide little slip control. At the bottom of the remote are two thin plastic "fin" feet that look like they’ll be prone to wear or damage, as our first prototype demonstrated. The top half of the remote is made from a shiny "aluminesque" material that feels and sounds very much like metal – before realizing it was plastic I worried it might dent. Like many shiny materials, the surface of the remote retains an impressive amount of fingerprints and other smudges that could keep a forensic investigator busy for a week, but when clean gives the UC-616 a sophisticated appearance.

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