From the kitchen comes a familiar voice echoing through the airwaves … “Harold … get in here and do these dishes right now”. Poor Harold quickly grabs his tattered RC2000 User Guide once again searching in vain for the all too important command sequence “Do The Dishes”. It’s got to be there somewhere … control for everything else is. But Alas, Harold is disappointed that he can’t find it … but wait … here’s something … what does this “Mute” button do. Ahhhh, that worked. The dishes will never get done but the shrill voice has been diverted into the ether.

The RC2000 MKII from Marantz is without a doubt the Cadillac of remote controls. It’s predecessor, the RC2000 received raves from reviewers everywhere and this new improved model adds some new features and a easier to read display.

You have control of everything from TVs, VCRs, A/V receivers, surround sound decoders, laser disc players, DSS systems, cable TV boxes, CD players and changers — even cassette decks and AM/FM tuners. The control codes from just about every brand of IR remote control can be transferred to the RC2000 Mark II, and it comes already pre-programmed to operate Marantz A/V components, components that use Philips RC-5 remote control codes and some brands of popular DSS equipment.

Here are some of the improvements over the RC2000:

* New, separate channel up/down keys that are located for easy, comfortable access.
* An easier-to-read LCD display with bolder, more legible characters and adjustable contrast.
* Expanded memory capacity to store more commands, as well as control over more components.
* Simplified programming, naming and control functions, making it easier to enter commands and operate components.
* Non-volatile memory that assures that programmed commands will not be erased from memory, even if the batteries go completely dead.
* Audible confirmation of entered commands — a “beep” is emitted when a key is pressed

The remote comes with a 46 page manual with very small print. Tons of info and a must read if you plan to learn the features of the product. Although this unit can control a lot of equipment and do many tasks, I found it relatively easy and intuitive to program. As I don’t have Maranz equipment, I had to teach the remote everything from scratch. This can be an alarming task if you have lots of equipment but I was pleasantly surprised that the MKII is quite sensitive and learned the signals very fast once I got the hang of it. The only goofs were my own … which is normal.

The feel of the buttons is exceptional and response very positive. Touch any button and the whole unit lights up like an encounter of the third kind. This is extremely important for those of us with old and tired eyes. I think my favorite feature is the “beep” that sounds with each button press. It’s just nice to know that when you pressed the button, the unit felt it and will carry out the command. Many of the component remotes that I have used simply don’t give me enough feedback (tactile or otherwise) to tell me that they got the message (which they often don’t).

Beyond the obvious multitude of buttons allowing control of every device you own, there are 4 macro buttons situated beside the LCD display. These can be programmed with up to 20 steps each. For example, you can program one button to turn on the TV, turn on the VCR, Change to channel 6, Set the amp to surround sound and take out the dog. It’s easy to program … just put the unit in macro mode and push the buttons that you want to record. In my opinion, every multi function remote should have this capability because when you are controlling several devices you need to have the ability to build shortcuts. For example, I use the AUX device for my X-10 commands (via a One For All IR Receiver). The macro that is perhaps the handiest of all simply turns off all the components (VCR, TV. AMP etc) and gives me 2 minutes to get to the bedroom before turning off all the lights in the house. Believe me, when that macro isn’t available, I find myself stumbling around looking for light switches that I don’t even remember having.

The last group of 8 buttons are called the Direct Commands. These can be programmed to do all those additional commands that your specific component may allow. For example “Shuffle Music”, “Previous Cannel” etc. These commands often control the functions that you spent extra for when you bought the component so you really want to be able to use them … many learning remotes don’t let you. And … there are not just 8 available. Each device can have up to 4 pages of commands (8 buttons per page). Thus you can program 32 extra commands. If your lucky enough to own Marantz (or Philips RC-5 compatible) equipment then everything is preprogrammed for you. Adjacent each command button, the LCD display shows a label of the function or command. If you’re extremely patient then you can even edit the labels (using the keypad).

Complaint Dept: Not many and not serious. The unit is a bit heavy and there are a lot of buttons. Necessary evils for a remote control with this kind of power. Marantz might consider putting some sticky rubber feet on the back of this unit to allow us to place it on the table and leave it there … like a built in touch panel.

Suggested retail price $250.00. This is a lot of cash for a remote control but I think the quality and power of this unit justifies it. If you’re a remote control junkie and/or have more than 2 or 3 devices in your home theater then I think this one is worth considering.