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Home Theater Master MX-800 Review
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Home Theater Master MX-800
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On-board programming.
A new feature on the MX-800 (and added to the MX-700 for that matter) is a basic on-board setup menu, designed to improve programming efficiency in several areas that were found to be somewhat difficult via software. Holding [MAIN] and [ENT] on the remote for a full 10 seconds (they really didn’t want this discovered accidentally!) accesses a simple setup menu containing just three options: “Scan”, “Learn” and “Fav”.

The first option, “Scan”, is used to search through the preprogrammed code database. Select the component to configure and then the type of device it should be. Like the MX-500, this second step is very much a guessing game as the MX-800 displays each device type with your custom entered names, which are unlikely to match the underlying database device types. See the downloadable MX-500 manual for a listing of which button corresponds to which database type. On the next screen it’s possible to directly enter a three-digit code number, if known. Otherwise use two buttons, “Up” and “Down”, to automatically step through each code number and transmit that device’s power command. Once a code has been found, press “Save” to exit.

As I pointed out in my original review, learning commands in MX Editor isn’t ideal due to limited feedback, or the lengthy back-and-forth procedure required for testing codes when the controlled equipment isn’t near a computer. The second on-remote option, “Learn”, solves this issue, permitting the quick capture and testing of codes while close to the device. When finished teaching, simply upload the file back to MX-800 Editor and save the changes. There are no automated button stepping procedures for code capture – these new setup options are designed to supplement the software, not replace it.

The third and final option, “Fav”, is included more for convenience than because creating favorite channel macros was difficult in the software. Satellite and cable companies are prone to frequently reassigning channel numbers, causing the Favorites section to become out of date even if no other reprogramming is required. With the “Fav” procedure it’s possible to pick an LCD button stored under the Favorites section, then record new commands for it from any device. Delays can be added from 0.1 to 6.0 seconds via the [PAUSE] button, however relabelling buttons and editing macros in other sections is not possible. Macros are saved by pressing [CHANNEL UP].

Home Theater Master MX-800
Click to enlarge. (67kb)
Final thoughts.
It’s nice to see the MX-800 come in a color printed shipping box, instead of the 3-remote “bulk pack” method used by Universal Remote Control for the MX-700. Each MX-800 remote ships with an official serial cable, four AAA batteries and a 12-page remote-sized micro manual. Shipped in a separate box inside the main carton is the MRF-200 and power adaptor, six infrared wires, an installation guide and mounting hardware.

The MX-800’s three main benefits over the MX-700 are controlling devices in multiple rooms, operating components without needing to aim the remote, or operating multiple identical devices individually. An added bonus of the MX-800’s release is that the MX-700 has since been reduced in price by $149, to $349. Woo hoo! However, this new lower price no longer includes the MX-200 mini-remote – which can be added back for $79. It still works out cheaper!

So which remote control to go for, the MX-700 or MX-800? The choice should be simple: if you don’t need the advantages that radio frequency control has to offer, buy the MX-700 which does everything else at a lower cost. But if RF control has you salivating, then rest assured that the MX-800 is a top notch remote control with loads of power and a proven design.

- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)

Home Theater Master MX-800 Data Box
Price:$499 USD
Contact:   Universal Remote Control Inc.
Phone:(914) 835-4484
Web:www.universalremote.com
Get it at:
Amazon.com
Find it with:
CNET Shopper

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