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Centered on ergonomics.
The first thing one notices about the sleekly styled MX-500 is that it's a big remote. At 9 inches long and 3 inches wide (22.9cm by 7.6cm), the MX-500 initially seems quite imposing. But this perception couldn't be further from reality - a product of excellent engineering, the MX-500 ergonomically tapers from its widest point at the top around the LCD screen to only 2.2 inches (5.6cm) at the thumbpad, expanding slightly to 2.4 inches (6.1cm) wide at the bottom. Furthering its distinguished profile, the MX-500 is a svelte 1.4 inches (3.6cm) thick at the top, tapering down to only 0.9 inches (2.3cm) at the bottom.
Battery requirements consist of four AAA alkalines (included), positioned in a non-standard 2 by 2 arrangement. Since the battery compartment is located in the lower half of the remote, the extra weight created by the bulk of the LCD screen is neatly counterbalanced, resulting in a nearly perfect center of gravity. Overall weight is not a concern at only 8oz (225gr) with batteries and 6.5oz (180gr) without - making the MX-500 one of the lightest remotes I've held, despite its notable size. This is surprising as it maintains an overall feeling of quality, something normally associated with more weighty endeavours.
The MX-500 is slim enough that the entire remote, save for the LCD section, can be used single-handedly. There's very little waste space to be found: buttons cover it top to bottom, left to right. This places some of the keys rather close to the bottom, but then I don't like to see plastic bulk that does nothing - so I can't complain about extremely efficient use of space!
Pressing in all the right places.
The two plastic mouldings fit together nicely with smooth, finished edges. The plastic itself is a deep navy blue color. Very little case twisting is possible on the remote, which should result in few physical problems over time. As on the MX-1000, the case features a matte tactile coating that aids in a secure grip. The MX-500's surface treatment is slightly different than the MX-1000, with less of a rubbery feel its texture is harder and slightly rougher. Rugged finger ridges at the top also enhance ergonomics.
Even with the slimming design techniques Universal Remote Control employed, the MX500 is a substantial remote packed with equally impressive features. Centered at the top is a regular LCD screen bordered by six buttons on the left side and a further six on the right side. The display measures 1.3 inches by 2.0 inches (3.3 by 5.1cm) with a 2.3 inch diagonal (5.9cm) and includes a large five-character label at the top for the currently selected device, ten slightly smaller five-character labels for custom button labels, plus a smaller status display at the bottom that shows page numbers, semi-active devices, programming instructions, et cetera. Just as it sounds, ten of the LCD-adjacent hard buttons have no pre-printed labels whatsoever. Instead, each of these is paired up with a changeable LCD label formed with dot-matrix characters.
In addition to ordinary device functions, LCD-enabled buttons are also used to select a component, make all remote configuration changes (no need for button combinations!) and send favorite channel macros. Below the LCD screen are three system buttons, [PAGE], [MAIN] and [FAV], used to control the LCD and jump to different sections on the remote. Beneath those are a pair of [VOLUME] and [CHANNEL] rocker buttons and supplementary [MUTE] and [PREVIOUS CHANNEL] keys.