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Place the original MX-500 next to a brand new MX-700 and it’s quite easy to pick out the changes. New color, shinier keypad finish, different buttons, bump on the side for the serial port, and so on. But on the road to making the upper-scale MX-700, Universal Remote has standardized on several key components for both MX-500 and MX-700 models.
You know that fine print in product brochures that says the manufacturer reserves the right to improve the product at any time? And just how often have you actually spotted an improvement? Well, the folks at Universal Remote actually do strive to make things better and are constantly tweaking their remotes. The venerable SL-9000 has seen countless versions over the years, each an upgrade over the last. Even the freshman MX-500 holds claim to four distinct revisions! For example, the MX-500’s once matte finished keypad has been replaced with a shiny new GemStone version. The bottom half of the MX-500’s case now features a bump-out where a serial port might have gone. The two [Power] buttons at the top of the MX-500 have been rounded off, just like the MX-700.
Indeed, place a brand new MX-500 next to the MX-700 and the physical differences become quite minimal: the MX-700 has a new color, a total of two fewer buttons, slightly reshaped [Page], [Main] and [Fav] buttons, plus a completely functional serial port. But don’t let the external similarities fool you as the MX-700 is a whole different beast under the hood.
Ergonomically, the MX-700 continues the MX-500’s tradition of excellent design, well-placed buttons and quality construction. Starting from the bottom, you’ll find a 10-digit numerical keypad with [+10] and [Enter] keys. Immediately above that is the 5-way menu joystick, surrounded on three sides by transport-specific controls. Above those keys are four buttons for [Menu], [Guide], [Info] and [Exit]. Further up are the volume and channel toggle buttons, with [Mute] and [Previous Channel] nestled comfortably between. Continuing even higher are three remote operation buttons: [Page], which rotates to the next LCD page of labels, [Main], which returns to the remote’s Main Menu and [Fav], which jumps to the Favorite Channels section.
A screen with a view.
Located above all of these useful hard buttons is what truly makes the MX-500 and MX-700 unique and most practical remotes: a large LCD screen, measuring 1.3 inches by 2.0 inches (3.3cm by 5.1cm) with a 2.3” diagonal (6.4cm). The LCD, already of excellent quality on the MX-500, seems even better in the MX-700. Because it can only produce two colors (to wit, “on” and “off”), a very high contrast ratio is possible. This means that the screen can be read in almost any ambient light level, making the backlight a requirement for only the most murky of lighting conditions. If you’ve used a touchscreen remote before, you may be surprised at how clear the MX-700’s non-touch-sensitive screen is. The contrast level can even be adjusted on-the-fly.