Best Product of CES 2009: URC’s Magical iPod Server
With URC's PSX2, you can do unbelievable things with the iPod, like add songs to a playlist on the fly, or shuffle the kids' music at the press of a single button.
urc ipod
Universal Remote Control’s PSX2 gets this author’s vote as best product of CES 2009
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January 12, 2009 by Julie Jacobson

You’ve never seen a remote-controllable iPod solution like the PSX2 from Universal Remote Control (URC). It was previewed last week at CES 2009 in Las Vegas, but it debuts for real at the Electronic House Expo Spring, March 11-14, Orlando, Fla. (Full details will be revealed on February 1.)

The product lets you use any universal remote to navigate anywhere on an iPod with the press of a single button – even places on the iPod that you never knew existed.

“Favorites” menu? One button press is all it takes. All albums that start with the letter “J”? Just press a single button. Shuffle the “Kids’ Playlist” with one touch.

Normally, says URC VP of technology Eric Johnson, “You have to press the button a million times.”

To accomplish these PSX2 feats, URC created 250 discrete IR codes for virtually any iPod function imaginable – not just the functions that iPod gives you, but ones that you always (or never) dreamed of.

Then URC built a smart docking station that connects to the TV for on-screen navigation.

What makes the dock smart are the “hooks” (as Johnson calls them) that enable users to do the unthinkable: like add the current song to a playlist – on the fly. Try doing that with an iPod.

Getting Creative with the PSX2

So, exactly what can you do with this thing?

Here’s one example Johnson gives: Let’s say a client really likes Miles Davis. An installer can create a macro that goes to “Search,” types in “Miles Davis,” and hits “Return.”

What the heck, throw in a “Jazz EQ” setting on the iPod when Miles Davis is played.

“The iPod has 24 different EQ settings, but no one bothers,” says Johnson. “We’ve put in discrete commands for every EQ. These are things that people would like to do with an iPod but don’t.”

What if you like a now-playing song, and would like to hear more of the same artist or genre? You can do that.

URC even created discrete codes for every number and every letter of the alphabet. Johnson demonstrated a “page” on an LCD remote that lets users select from letters A-E, F-J, etc.

Which Remote to Use?

You can use any remote that can learn IR codes.

But you’d be much better off using one of URC’s own remotes.

That’s because URC has written “planograms” for a huge number of LCD pages on one of the company’s myriad IR and RF remotes (just add hub!).

For example, there’s a “planogram” for creating a page that lets users shuffle any of their playlists with the press of a button.

The templates will be available only to authorized URC dealers through the company’s URC Control room, when the product officially is unveiled on February 1. (Pricing will be revealed at that time, but I can tell you it is a bargain!)

Indeed, this is a custom-only product. “It gives custom installers the best iPod dock ever,” says Johnson. “We really need a product that custom installers can take to their customers and say, ‘Does your iPod frustrate you? Do you have to press the button a million times … ?’”

The verdict is in: This is the best new product at CES 2009. Click here to view the slideshow.

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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