|Marantz RC9500 Universal Learning Remote|
|Home Theater Remotes & System Control Remotes & System Control|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Tuesday, 01 March 2005|
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Like many Audio Video Revolution readers, I have a table adjacent to the main seat in my theater room completely covered with various remotes to run my AV system. For years, this situation has been acceptable because, barring the morning after a big night out on the town, I can manipulate my system by grabbing one remote after another to fire up my gear. This has long been a safety mechanism that prevents my roommates from using (or abusing) my gear, as they can’t figure out how to start it up even if I left them alone for a week with a stack of NetFlix movies six inches high.
The problem is that I personally have the whole remote routine down, but I am getting to the point where I want to let others use my system from time to time. However, none of them can figure out the system and often leave it in worse shape than when I left them alone at the helm. So how do I solve such a perplexing issue? I need a universal remote to consolidate my seven remotes and simplify the knowledge of a home theater nerd into a press of a button. I could just get a cheap learning remote with rubber buttons that probably won’t describe exactly all the functions represented on my other remotes, but why not improve the whole experience? Why not add color graphics, macros to automate tasks and fully personalize it to my taste? Enter the Marantz 9500 universal remote and not a moment too soon. The Marantz is a full-color, lightweight, simple to use remote that can eliminate some headaches within your theater for the price of $1,099. I realize that this remote is pricey compared to a $20 universal remote from Radio Shack, yet properly controlling a higher-priced AV system is not child’s play.
Under The Hood
The RC9500 is about six inches long, three-and-a-half inches wide and an inch-and-a-quarter thick. It comes in black with metallic gray accents and is easy to read, with an LCD screen size of about two-and-a-half by three inches. Its rounded base fits nicely in my palm, making it easy to operate with just one hand. A 600mAh NiMH battery powers the unit for several hours of intermittent usage and can be easily recharged using the included docking station. There are silver-colored hard buttons that can be used in addition to the soft buttons that are featured on the LCD screen itself. The hard buttons are commonly used for things like navigating the menus and tabs of the device, controlling volume and changing channels. Both the hard and soft buttons can be fully programmed to do whatever your heart desires. A mini-USB jack on the left side of the unit allows for the RC9500 to be programmed from a PC. The screen has a sensor that will detect when the unit is tilted or picked up, resulting in the unit’s backlight buttons and LCD screen turning on.
The generously-sized color screen uses thin film transistor (TFT) LCD technology to yield a color pallet of 64,000 colors. This 320 x 240 pixel touch screen allows for creative and rich custom graphics to be displayed on this unit. With an impressive 16MB of RAM (this will be increased to 48MB with a firmware upgrade from Marantz later this year), the sky is the limit as to how much customization can be done with this unit. The range of the IR signals from this unit is about 30 feet, but if you have greater needs or you have components in other rooms, you can get the RF-77 extender to solve this issue for $169. This extender sits in front of your IR components and converts RF signals from the RC9500 into IR signals that the components can understand.