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URC’s PSX-2 Is AppleTV Killer
urc psx-2
April 30, 2009 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Universal Remote’s new networked iPod dock offers users an easy-to-use interface and access to their home network, including access to their iTunes content.
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Posted by bob archer  on  05/02  at  03:36 PM

J Xibalba I am with you on the price points and the hobbyist aspect of AppleTV and some of the things out there for consumers. I fully admit that as someone that’s been covering this stuff (on the trade side) for a number of years I am desensitized to price points for the most part and I view most of the stuff I write about in the manner that I can’t afford it so price points don’t bother me.

I do not however dismiss it because I can’t afford it and I look at them as part of my job and if I think something is cool I will write that.

Thank you for reading


Posted by chip  on  05/04  at  03:14 PM

at what point is this an AppleTV Killer? the fact that you instantly get a boost in status when you tell people it was “professionally installed”???

“Using the company’s PSXLink software, PSX-2, owners (regardless of whether they are Apple or PC users) can utilize their computers as an entertainment server. “
—-um yeah… i’ve got ITUNES! and guess what… IT RUNS ON WINDOWS XP!!! omigosh omigosh omigosh!!!!

and what could be simpler to operate than apple tv with its remote? that remote they show there? looks like a PSP made out of recycled pepsi cans.

backed by an installation engineer? who are they marketing this to? how difficult do they think it is to plug in an Apple TV? i ran 1 wire, ethernet, under my crawl space, next to the Co-Ax. i was done in 5 minutes.

look people, apple tv is not going to shake your hand and feed your cat, i’ll admit it and i’m actually glad its not going anywhere near my cat.

but seriously, are you really going to go dock your iPod let alone your iPhone EVERYTIME and all the while you want to watch something in your house? with Apple TV you don’t even have to take your iPod or iPhone out of your pocket. Know why? YOU HAVE ITUNES. if you put any content on an iPhone or an iPod, its already on your home computer.

so now all thats left to do is turn on the Apple TV, get it on your network, pair it up with iTunes and bippity boppity ITUNES! you have the same stuff thats on your iPod or iPhone, streaming onto a TV near you without having to take your iPod or iPhone out of your pocket… and let’s not forget about storage space… you telling me that all the movies and music you ever want to watch or listen to is on your iPod?

if you just want to watch what’s on your iPod… get an AV cable and tell the world you are not an idiot

or are you???

Posted by ryan  on  05/06  at  10:04 AM

This is as much an AppleTV killer as the Verizon phone was 2 years ago to the iPhone.  Can anyone remember what phone that was (though it was heavily noted as the iPhone killer)?  As a dealer, there is one reason to carry the URC device, and in my opinion the ONLY reason URC would even create such a component…margins.  Call it custom and give dealers a way to make money.  Then sell it to people that don’t know they can get more features from the Apple TV itself.  Our struggle as a dealer and Apple fanatic is finding ways to make money on selling a much better product (anything Apple) when you don’t make the margins you can make on custom products.  So, you have a choice.  Sell a less capable product you make more money on and attempt to convince your clients that there is something “wrong” with the Apple TV because it is a consumer product.  Or, realize that your customers deserve the best and sell yourself and your company as Apple fanatics, install much better product at a less margin, but make your money on service and the fact that you will have many referral and repeat customers.  And, of course if you’re good at what you do, you make the Apple products custom and charge a higher price for them…because they came from you and not the Apple store.

Posted by bob archer  on  05/06  at  10:22 AM

Hi Ryan, do you know the feature set of this device?

Are you a URC dealer or are someone competing against URC dealers.

I suggest you contact the appropriate people and get a demo yourself. The dock and the companion remotes, which include the MX-6000 are pretty nice and together they provide many entertainment and control options.

Apple makes a ton of great products and as I’ve noted before I am a loyal Apple user with multiple iPods, computers and iPhones in my house.

They are not the end all of the electronics market however. This product can be used as a solution just like any other product in the electronics market.

Installers and consumers can continue to use Apple TV, but it’s important to remember there are other products out there that can be used in place of it too unless you refuse to acknowledge Media Center and products from Kaliedescape, Escient and ReQuest.

Posted by ryan  on  05/06  at  11:20 AM

Hi Bob.  We are a URC dealer and have been for some time.  We now only do Control4 for universal remotes since we have the opportunity to sell lighting, climate, audio distribution, and so on.  I took a few moments to review the piece directly from URC’s site, and I’m not going to discount the fact that it has many great custom features.  I also don’t want to use this as a platform to blast a successful company or new product.  My opinion is, does it really offer a better solution than the Apple TV?  Labeling it as the Apple TV killer says so.  Maybe it would have been better to call it “the iPod dock killer”, seeing that it offers more features than any other iPod dock.  And, with that I would completely agree.

So, if it doesn’t do video distribution, show your iPhoto library, allow you to download movies or purchase new music, play YouTube videos, or subscribe to podcasts, then it’s really not in the same game as the Apple TV itself…just the pile of docks that every manufacturer has now come out with. 

And just as an add on, am I the only one that thinks $10,000+ DVD servers/clients will be a dinosaur in a year or two?  They may be one fiber run away from extinction.  They’re cool, with very attractive interfaces, just getting close to the end of an era.

Posted by SF  on  05/06  at  11:39 AM

that was a terrible writeup.

Posted by bob archer  on  05/06  at  12:26 PM

Hi Ryan, I can see your perspective on the comparisons to other docks and it isn’t completely comparable to Apple TV, but it serves an application for some people.

As for the state of future media don’t rule out servers yet. Not everyone is using high-speed Internet and many don’t plan on migrating over.

For many people the idea of owning physical media and managing it on a server is still appealing.

When you combine the slowing adoption rate of high-speed Internet and the intangible element of owning your physical media server devices will be a viable category for a long time, especially considering products like Apple TV, as well as products from Escient, Kaliedescape, etc.

At some point the market will see Blu ray storage and playback devices.

Remember storage is getting cheaper by the day.


Posted by ryan  on  05/06  at  01:20 PM

Hi Bob.  This is getting way off task.  However, for those that can’t afford high speed internet, can they really afford even an Escient server at around $6000?  Blu-Ray media servers have been around for a while haven’t they (Axonix and now bankrupt Xperinet)?  Do we really believe the DVD medium won’t change because the players exist?  That’s like saying brick-and-mortar music stores can still survive because Sony still makes CD players. 

I do agree that many people like having the physical media.  But even my parents, who love their CD’s, haven’t purchased one since they bought an iPod and a mac.  And as a Control4 dealer, the item we sell with every installation is a Rhapsody subscription. 

Here’s the thing, me saying luxury items (Kaleidescape) won’t exist is like saying there’s no place in the world for Rolls Royce.  I believe people will continue to buy things just because no one else can - not because they have chosen not to get high-speed internet access.  BTW, our local electricity provider is currently running fiber to every neighborhood to provide internet and cable tv.  I don’t think instantaneous streaming is too far off.  I can’t wait!

Posted by bob archer  on  05/06  at  01:47 PM

Hi Ryan, this is off topic, but it’s a good discussion because it is the way home entertainment is going to a certain degree through products like Apple TV.

You are correct that much of the demographic that still uses dial up can’t afford a product from Escient, Kaliedescape, etc, but there are many people that for reasons such as the emotional connection to buying a CD, DVD or Blu ray or simply want a backup copy of their media purchases.

Record stores are by the way at an interesting point in time. CD sales are down, downloads are up, and vinyl is in the midst of a solid revival that is highlighted by Best Buy’s re-entry into the category.

Vinyl is popular again for reasons such as some people prefer the sound of analog; some people like the feeling of looking at liner notes and some have never known anything different (old-school audiophiles, kids raised by parents with large record collections).

Until there is an improvement in the quality of service (QoS) provided by the high-speed Web providers and a large enough market with enough revenues to grow the market there will be room for physical and streaming media.

Experts in the video industry estimate that Blu ray will be a viable format for about 10 years,

Posted by JL  on  05/06  at  05:05 PM

The Apple TV has a hard drive, and unless I’m missing it, this doesn’t.  This is really an iPod dock on steroids, which is fine—but A) Nobody needs to make an “Apple TV killer”; Apple will probably do that by themselves; and B) Since no price is listed, I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that this item costs about 100X what mosts iPod docks cost—making all the comparisons irrelevant.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/06  at  05:44 PM

More details here (and why people are really loving this thing)

From the article:

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.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/06  at  05:59 PM

Price is $399 msrp. (haven’t read all the comments so maybe someone already chimed in). You can use virtually any half-decent IR remote. It doesn’t need to be a fancy URC remote, although functionality is improved with a URC device.

Posted by lpn  on  05/08  at  11:09 PM

Julie’s comment makes a good point to what the benefits are of this dock.  Ryan not that I disagree with everything your saying, but your missing the point of this product.  It provides a solution that Apple TV does not.  Using this dock on a distributed audio system is where it shines.  When paired with the MX6000 remote you get a full user interface without having to use a monitor/television to control your system.  That said it doesn’t make it an AppleTV killer.  Apple TV has its advantages in other areas.  For a theater room or single room with a television I would use the Apple TV.  The AppleTV makes a great video source when you add Boxee to it.

As far as using Control4 exclusively as solution over URC you may be missing some potential.  The Control4 dock is meant only for audio.  If you use the C4 dock as a source on the A/V distribution system you introduce delay.  You will notice this when it takes several seconds just to adjust the cover art on the Navigator screen.  As an iPod dock the PSX2 is far superior.  I don’t know if you are aware, but URC has partnered with Lutron to create a cheap single room solution for lighting control.  Even cheaper than a C4 HC200/SR250 system with C4 dimmers.  If you want to go whole house you can integrate URC with a Lutron Homeworks or RadioRA system with the MSC400.  While Control4 has its advantages don’t leave out URC.  One thing URC allows you to do is customize the remote to the system.  Something you can’t do with C4.

As far as media servers going away I think you are wrong.  The bottom line is people still own a ton of media (CD’s, DVD’s).  So for years to come central media servers like Escient or Kaleidescape will still serve a purpose.  These companies are not stupid either.  You don’t think they will begin to integrate IP solutions.  By the end of the year Kaleidescape will allow you to network with your itunes account as well as adding Blu-ray content.  Once IPTV takes off they will probably integrate solutions for that as well.  However, Bob is right about content quality as well.  On the audio side consumers have allowed sound quality to be sacrificed for convenience.  I don’t think the same will happen for video.  Humans in general believe their eyes more than their ears.  As video continues to progress (1080p now and 4k in the next 5-10 years) the bandwidth for IP video can’t keep up.

Posted by ryan  on  05/09  at  12:48 AM

I completely agree with your assessment of the dock. I don’t think I missed the point, I just think that the article should have been directed toward something like the Control4 dock as opposed to the Apple TV.  The benefits of this device compared to any other dock are obvious, and as an audio distribution component I’d love to see some 2-way control drivers for Control4. I’ve always enjoyed Bob’s reviews, I just thought the headline was a little off to call this dock an Apple TV killer.  With that I believe we can both agree.

Nothing against URC.  We’ve used them for years.  They make a great product and we’ve never had a callback on any remote we’ve installed.  Simply put, we made a choice when the HC-200 came out that there wasn’t much reason to continue the URC remotes.  For the price point the on screen interface reduces client training to practically zero time, and gives us the upsell opportunity for lighting, climate, security, and cameras…and all from one vendor. We’ve also done the whole 5 vendors for an integrated system including Lutron, Aprilaire, URC, etc. They’re all great products, it just made sense for us to consolidate.  One vendor equals one support department equals deeper relationships.  At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I’m going to leave it at that.

I also don’t think media servers are necessarily going anywhere.  Like I stated to Bob, there will always be a place for an expensive, well-built and well-designed movie server.  What I believe will change is the delivery method and media type that will be stored on those servers. File types and compression techniques will adapt all while allowing video and audio quality to get better.  The VUDU HDX downloaded content looks pretty awesome right now. 

Here’s what we’ve considered when it comes to video servers and burning standard DVD collections.  We haven’t had any customers yet that have “replaced” their existing standard DVD collections with the newer blu-ray in the disc format.  We have had a lot of customers that have obviously now switched to the blu-ray disc format for their new purchases.  So, the question is, how do we manage the old collections. Do we sell the customer a $4000 Escient DVD server that will store 100 movies?  100 x $19.99 = $2000 worth of movies that the client has already paid for.  So, around $6000 investment.  Or, we could essentially download HD replacements (for those that had them) as a service to the client to external storage and use the Apple TVs to distribute the movies anywhere in the system for $229 a client.  So for less than the Escient server itself, we can download new digital content (some in HD) to replace their existing DVD collection, give them a great way to manage their movies and buy more, and distribute them throughout the home.  This even becomes more enticing when you’re considering a minimum $10,000 Kaleidescape. Today we tested and successfully streamed the same movie from our iTunes server to 3 Apple TV’s at the same time in 3 separate streams with no problems. 

I think it’s an obvious alternative.  And, no I don’t think the rich will stop buying Kaleidescapes as long as they continue to market themselves as the elite.  It’s the lower cost servers that will put themselves directly in the sights of Apple. 

Looking forward to hearing responses and I apologize ahead of time for the side road we’ve taken.  I do enjoy the conversation though.

Posted by Tom  on  05/21  at  08:31 PM

One point that i didn’t see was that the Apple TV can be controlled, quite nicely, with the Apple Remote on the iPhone.  This includes selecting from playlists, both local and streamed, and if you have additional airports, as i do, you can select additional speakers/rooms.  It is a great slution for people that already own an iphone/touch.


Posted by owner of the device  on  10/24  at  04:13 AM

piece of garbage
will lock up when used with mx6000 or wifi remotes

you can expect it to fail in the middle of a party or gathering within 45 minutes even with perfect wifi signal

junk dont want you time

Posted by Jon Z  on  02/09  at  10:13 AM

Just updating the thread if anynoe is hoping for relevent firmware - as of Feb 2010 - the PSX 2 will STILL freeze your ipod on occasion forcing you to power cycle your ipod to bring it back to life.  This occured daily with a nano, weekly with a classic.  I can only attribute this to the faster processor of the classic.  The PSX Link software is false advertising.  If you manage to speak with someone high enough up at URC you’ll learn they have never been able to get the MAC version working.

I’m using this with the MX 5000.

Posted by psx-2 URC  on  02/09  at  10:27 AM

Yep locks up everytime
here is the annoying sound you will hear

Posted by Jon Z  on  02/09  at  11:01 AM

Does anyone know of a media server that’s compatible with URC?  Ideally support for RS 232. 

I’m 4k invested into URC and the ipod will not work as a media server.  Hoping to avoid the full blown change over to Crestron for something that works.

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