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Universal® MasterControl RF-20

Multibrand remote with learning capability

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  • Universal® MasterControl™ RF-20

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Our take on the Universal® MasterControl™ RF-20

by Ralph Graves

With the RF-20 from Universal, you can control up to ten different components with just a single remote. This versatile remote lets you string together several commands into a one-button operation known as a "macro" — such as having one command turn on the TV, the DVD player and your surround sound audio system, all in the proper sequence to watch a DVD.

The remote can also remember up to 40 TV channels, and access them via the "favorite channels" button. A handy LCD screen makes it easy to read and scroll through your command menus, and you can even customize the text labels it displays.

The RF20 comes preprogrammed with over 1,000 remote codes from different manufacturers, and includes a tutorial DVD to take you step-by-step through the simple setup process. It's also a "learning" remote, so you can copy commands directly from your old remotes into the RF-20. And don't worry about having to reload all your settings if the batteries die — the RF-20 can retain its programming for ten years without power.

Like most remotes, the RF20 transmits regular infrared (IR) commands to your equipment for line-of-sight control. It also transmits powerful radio frequency (RF) signals that pass through walls, floors and cabinets. With the optional MRF100B base station, you can control your components from anywhere within a radius of 50-100 feet.

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Highlights:

  • transmits both IR and RF signals
  • RF operation requires additional base station (available separately)
  • 432 macro buttons (up to 190 steps each)
  • learns the IR codes from existing remote controls
  • pre-loaded with over 1,000 manufacturer codes
  • access up to 40 favorite TV channels with one button
  • can operate up to 10 devices
  • illuminated keypad
  • retains programming without batteries for up to 10 years
  • requires 4 "AAA" alkaline batteries (included)
  • tutorial DVD included
  • weight: 8 oz.
  • 2-5/8"W x 8-9/16"H x 1-1/4"D
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Universal remote control
  • "Learn to Program" DVD
  • 4 "AAA" batteries
  • Owner's Manual

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features
Specifications

Features

Overview: The RF20 universal and learning remote control is designed to operate up to 10 different audio/video components. The RF20 sends both IR and RF signals, making whole-house operation (indoors and outdoors, through cabinets, walls and doors) possible with the addition of the optional MRF100B RF receiver base station. The RF20 can be programmed to execute "macros," each with nearly two-hundred commands.

Basic Setup: You can start setting up your RF20 using the Pre-Programmed Method or the Learning Method. The Pre-Programmed Method allows you to choose codes from the RF20's built-in library, which includes thousands of codes for different brands and models of remote controls. Using the Learning Method, the RF20 can learn commands from your old remote controls one button at a time.

Pre-Programmed Codes: The RF20 is pre-programmed to control most brands of TVs, VCRs, DVD players, CD players, cable boxes, satellite receivers, TiVo hard disk recorders, DVRs, tape decks, multimedia PCs, XM Satellite Radio tuners, iPods, Xbox consoles, lighting controls, and other custom installation products.

Punch Through: In most home entertainment systems, the volume is controlled by a single device. In some systems, the TV speakers produce the sound, so you would use the TV device on the RF20 to raise and lower the volume. In other systems, a surround sound receiver and speakers combine to bring you the audio, so you would use the RF20's Audio device to adjust the volume. You can use SimpleSound to set the RF20's volume buttons to always control the sound in your system. That way, when the RF20 is set to VCR or DVD, the volume up, down and mute buttons will work without switching back to Audio or TV. The Punch Through feature is not limited to volume, and can be applied to channel selection, playback controls, etc.

Backlight: The buttons and LCD screen are backlit for easy nighttime use. You can adjust the amount of time that the RF20's backlight stays on by entering the Setup mode. You can adjust the backlight duration from 0-99 seconds.

Favorite Channels: The RF20 allows you to store up to 40 of your favorite channels.

MacroPower: The RF20 features 453 macro buttons, each allowing you to program up to 190 commands.

Hiding and Adding Pages: Each of your RF20 Devices actually contains eight pages. However, only five pages are visible in the factory default setting. Three pages are hidden in each device. If you wish to use the hidden pages, you can add them. If you don't want to use some of the existing pages, you can hide them.

Erasing: You can erase an individual button with a learned command, a macro or a favorite channel. You can erase an entire Device's learned command or macro buttons. You can also erase all your learned commands on all devices, or all your macros and favorite channels everywhere. If you really want a fresh start, it is possible to reset everything to the factory default condition.

Cloning One RF20 to Another: If you own two or more RF20 remotes, you can copy and transfer all the setup from one RF20 to another.

Memory: The RF20 stores all of your settings in non-volatile flash memory. The settings will be retained without batteries.

Child Lock Feature: The Child Lock feature blocks all operations of the remote control.

Optional Expander: The RF20 transmits both IR and RF signals. By purchasing the optional MRF100B PowerBlaster, you can operate your equipment with the RF20 up to 100 feet away (through walls, doors, cabinets, inside or outside). The RF20 sends a radio signal to the MRF100B, which is a radio receiver. The MRF100B converts the radio signals to standard infrared commands and sends them out to components in the same cabinet space via a built-in front blaster.

Note: The RF20's radio signals will not control components directly. You must have an MRF100B to receive the RF20's radio signals.

Specifications

Learning Capability: 825 IR commands at standard frequencies (15kHz to 100kHz)

Macro Capability: 453 Macros of up to 190 steps each

IR Range (Line of Sight via Infrared): 30-50 feet, depending on the environment

RF Range (radio frequency): 50 to 100 feet, depending upon the environment

RF Frequency: 418 MHz

 
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Universal® MasterControl™ RF-20 Reviews

Average Customer Review:

16 people say:

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4 out of 5

Universal® MasterControlT RF-20

Written By Verofan, Vero Beach, fl on Sunday, April 06, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
It requires a short learning curve to be able to use it. It is not as user friendly as expected. I find to get back to "Home" before being able to activate function within device. Has a strong 5 star signal but is less intuitive than expected, but worthwhile. I probably need more time using it and rethinking how I was able to set it up. I am computer literite with experience that started in 1983.
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4 out of 5

Nice remote all in 1

Written By Ivan, Puerto rico on Thursday, February 13, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Simplify my life with this remote universal control, i recomended to anyone..
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2 out of 5

RF-20 leaves you Frustrated

Written By Sam E., Hickory, NC on Friday, January 17, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Nice unit but setting up macros and getting them to work is almost impossible. The instructions and DVD are ZERO help. For this price you would hope it was a little more user friendly. My wife refuses to use it since it doesn't work as well as the OEM (CHARTER) remote.
Pros:
nice feel. easy to program different units and get them to work.
Cons:
No macro buttons per se. Macro programming is cumbersome at best and simple macros fail about 85% of time.
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5 out of 5

Life saver

Written By Corey, Mo on Thursday, October 24, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
After switching to uverse I tried to use their rf remote. What a joke. After hours or programming and troubleshooting I decided to spend 15 minutes, refresh myself with the rf20 learn feature I wish I would have done it sooner. Would have saved 10 frustrating hours of my life. The att rf is such a piece.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Great remote for a cheap price

Written By Nappyaudio, Philadelphia, PA on Monday, April 08, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Though not as simple to program as a logitech harmony pro, this gave me the RF features and the ability to build macros for half the price. Also, no need for a computer to program it.
Pros:
great price and features
Cons:
takes more time to program than the logitech.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Good but could be better

Written By Paul, Augusta, ME on Saturday, July 28, 2012
 
I often listen to my television while in an adjacent room; the reason I bought this controller was for its ability to control through walls and it works reasonably well for this purpose. My main complaint is with the On/Off macro and the fact that this macro is not sensitive to mode.

Another reason I bought this remote was because it was supposed to work with X-10 systems - unfortunately not with mine it seems.
1 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

awesome!

Written By Ivan, Bothell, WA on Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
get it! it's worth it. very easy to program and use.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Great Purchase!

Written By Ron, Dallas, TX on Sunday, March 06, 2011
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This remote works like a charm with all my devices and the Crutchfield tech support stayed
on the phone with me and helped me program it with each of my devices. He was
knowledgeable and patient. Overall, it was a great experience. I won't hesitate to purchase
from Crutchfield again!
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Universal® MasterControl™ RF-20

Written By Anonymous, Seattle WA on Saturday, January 29, 2011
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Works as desired. My goal was to use a 2 zone receiver and control the volume to my
outside speakers from my hot tub. Goal was accomplished and remote and base
station worked as I had hoped.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

Impressive, but with flaws

Written By John, Magnolia, TX on Thursday, January 08, 2009
 
What an impressive universal remote! The buttons can 'learn' from a device's remote, or can be programmed with 'macros' (a series of button presses). My DirecTV/TiVo remote has no 'OFF' button, so I programmed the universal remote's 'OFF' button for this. All the buttons on a device's remote can be duplicated on this remote.

But there's a BUG: the 'learning' method for programming buttons DOES NOT WORK, if a macro has previously been stored to the button. One would expect that any old command would automatically be erased when a new command is saved, but that is not the case. The work-around is, you must manually erase the command first (not documented in the manual).

Another problem is the manual. It is glib and superficial. It leaves out some important details. One of the most powerful features is the macro capability, but the manual explains this only thru one example. It does not give a general step-by-step procedure for setting up a macro command on a button for an individual component. Missing is a chapter on macro details for users who are serious about using them.

It can take a lot of time to set up the remote as you might want. The Pre-Programmed Code Method of setup is fast; the Learning Method is also fast, once you have designed the button layout you want. Doing the design of the layout, and learning how the various setup features work, then setting up macros, then changing things when you see how you can improve your layout -- can take a really long time.
21 out of 21 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Universal® MasterControl™ RF-20

Written By Mike, Rockford, Illinois on Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I was looking for a universal remote to replace six remotes, so that my non-tech wife could use our audio-video equipment. I needed some kind of screen so that she could have instant feedback, plus macro capacity. This remote fulfilled most of my expectations. I especially like that I could rename existing commands and even learn a new command.

My only complaint is that it took me a while to figure out how to program a macro so that it would be invoked by one of the soft keys on a submenu. The DVD tutorial and the illustrated manual show how to associate a macro with a button but do not provide much more information. In fact, even their example, of programming the On button to turn on multiple units, had me stymied at first. This is because the button that is used to invoke the macro (On) happens to also be the button that is invoked within the macro numerous times (to actually turn on each piece of equipment). The should have clearly pointed out that the first time you press On (while programming), you are actually pressing the key that invokes the macro, not turning on the equipment.
11 out of 12 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Universal® MasterControl™ RF-20

Written By Chris, Cincinnati, OH on Thursday, February 28, 2008
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This is a pretty nice piece of equipment. The only problem I continue to struggle with is access to my DVD. It is a weird brand that does not show on your lists. My plan is to buy a new one shortly. It's time for an upgrade anyway.
1 out of 2 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Good Product

Written By Matt, Chicago on Monday, April 02, 2007
 
Worked as advertised and reduced my 6 remotes to one. Easy to program and start using immediately. Still tweaking remote to fine tune it and streamline some of my preferences. I don't have the blaster, but will likely purchase in near future. I would recommend this remote to a friend.
4 out of 4 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Great Remote

Written By Bryan, Atlanta, GA on Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I bought the RF20 and the PowerBlaster base station. Both work as advertised. Very simple to program and use. The LCD screen is great for adding specific function titles for a very customized remote. The buttons have a good quality feel. The only thing I don't like is the backlight. While the light works fine for the buttons it seems to do nothing for the LCD screen. I don't know if it's a problem with the color (it's red) or just not bright enough but the screen is nearly impossible to read in a dark room. Other than that I think this is great remote.
7 out of 7 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Not sure what the other reviewer is talking about

Written By David, Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 31, 2006
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Need/want to hide your receiver, tivo, dvd player out of sight? Need/want a remote control that can work those devices with the door closed? This is the remote (along with the blaster accessory) for you.

We just bought a 50 inch plasma and installed it on the wall and having the components in the room really took away from the look of the whole thing. We bought this remote and the blaster. Now the components are in the closet, the wires are hidden in the wall and the remote works everything flawlessly.

Preprogrammed codes work most things you can buy today and the learning feature, macro programming and punch through features are simple to set up. My family room went from "Appliance store chic" to "modern streamlined marvel" with this remote.

I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to store their components out of sight. If you don't need to do that, this remote is probably not the best for what you are doing.
8 out of 9 people found this helpful
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2 out of 5

Get the URC-200 instead!

Written By Jason, Southfield, MI on Thursday, July 27, 2006
 
This is supposed to be the update to the URC-200 but it should be advertised as a downgrade (cheap replacement). The colorful appearance of the URC-200 which aids visual placement/navigation is gone. The sturdy high-quality tactile feedback from button operation is gone. Instead the buttons look cheap and ugly and are mushy in operational feel. The navigation pad is concaved so much in the center that often times navigational commands don't register. I have to stick my thumb into the center down deep and try to push from the center out to get it to input the command. This problem was non-existant on the URC-200. The RF-20 does still offer the great operation of the URC-200, but its physical change makes it harder to operate because of the things I noted above. Because Universal Remote Control is marketing this as the update to the URC-200 I gave the RF-20 2/5 stars. Absent the existance of the URC-200, I'd likely give this a low 3/5 stars.

Universal Remote Control took a step backwards with this one. Tactile feel and navigational response is vital to a remote's success. Get the URC-200, the previous version--it is truly one of the best.
15 out of 22 people found this helpful
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2 questions already asked

Is this product come with the french version manuel? [ Alain  May 19, 2014 ]
1 answer
  • Yes. It is just a getting started manual that comes with the device [ JOHN   May 21, 2014 ]
Does it remember everything if the batteries die? [ Margo  Mar 09, 2014 ]
6 answers
  • yes it does. Good unit overall. Ours gets a lot of use and we burn them out every couple of years. It has a learning feature that will teach the new one all of the old tricks. Pretty cool [ ROBERT   Mar 10, 2014 ]
  • Mine died not to long ago. As soon as I changed them, all of my settings returned. You don't have to program it again! [ ANDREW   Mar 10, 2014 ]
  • Yes. It saves everything to flash memory and it never loses it unless you reset the whole unit. You are welcome. [ SAM   Mar 10, 2014 ]
  • Yes it does, although the new harmony remotes are now offering wifi and even cell and iPad integration so there are even more choices and options available depending on what you want. [ GLEN W   Mar 10, 2014 ]
  • Yes. When the batteries die or fall out and you replace them, you will see the screen do a system check and then flash "OK!" All the memory is saved. [ STEPHEN E   Mar 10, 2014 ]
  • I have no idea since I am as yet unable to synch it to my system. It better hold the settings after the battery dies...I will have had to spend many hours getting it to work. I do not even know if there is a warning light as battery power grows weak. If there is no warning & it doesn't retain synchs-- I will return it ! [ SARA   Mar 10, 2014 ]

For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the Universal® MasterControl™ RF-20, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_554RF20/Universal-MasterControl-RF-20.html ).

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