Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
With a few minor tweaks, the RCA LCD RCU1010 touch-screen universal-learning remote control would be a dynamite value. Costing less than $100 online ($129.99 list), it not only controls up to nine devices and offers a large touch screen that controls most commands, it also combines the best attributes of RCA's other lower-priced remotes.
The most striking feature of the RCU1010 is its generous (2.375 by 4.25 inches) touch screen, which can accommodate up to 40 control buttons, or soft keys. Since the RCU1010 is a learning remote with lots of empty space on each device's control screen, you can create plenty of new soft keys for your more exotic controls. Unfortunately, you're limited to just three or four predetermined labeling options for each soft key. Unlike the more expensive Philips , which offers myriad customization options, the RCU1010 does not let you write your own key labels, nor can you move the keys around to suit your preferences. You'll end up giving keys no label at all or using a preassigned label that has little to do with the button's actual function.
In addition to the usual A/V device codes, the RCU1010 offers code sets for a full range of DVD recorders, VCRs, and DVRs, including TiVo and . But only the VCR mode provides access to the appropriate functions for video recording by default. TiVo or Replay owners will have to add DVR-specific soft keys manually.
Like other RCA remotes (such as the and the ), the RCU1010 maps Scientific-Atlanta cable-box volume and power controls but not the guide, menu, info, and navigational controls, despite having the corresponding LCD touch-screen soft keys. However, by using the remote's learning mode, you can add whichever codes don't get mapped automatically.
The RCU1010 lists codes for audio systems rather than for A/V receivers, but all of the major A/V-receiver manufacturers are represented, and most of the codes at least include power and volume controls. As with the cable box, you'll have to manually program whichever A/V receiver codes aren't mapped automatically. Fortunately, the RCU1010 offers punch-through modes, which enable specific keys to control certain overall system functions the same way, no matter which individual device is selected. For instance, your receiver's volume or VCR/DVR transport controls can always be active by default.
The RCU1010 suffers from the major drawback of all LCD touch-screen-based remotes: you cannot control them by feel. Here, the lack of tactile control is exacerbated by the identical round shapes of the DVD/VCR transport-control keys arrayed along the bottom of the remote--an ergonomic flaw made worse by the placement of the nearly indistinguishable record and stop keys adjacent to each other. Even worse, the hard keys cannot be backlit as the touch screen can, and the black lettering on the gray keys isn't easy to read even in bright light, much less in a dark room.
These quibbles aside, the RCU1010 is probably the best overall remote in the current RCA line, and it represents a good value for those who like LCD touch-screen-based remotes.