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The MX-700’s display isn’t graphical like most other remotes in this price range – it’s only capable of displaying text. Universal Remote did use a dot-matrix system, so the alphanumeric characters are quite readable. The screen is used to provide customizable labels for 10 physical buttons, split between both sides of the screen. Each of the 10 labels can hold up to 5 characters, so some creative contractions may be necessary. At the top of the LCD is another, larger, 5-character label to show the currently active device, while a smaller 7-character display at the bottom indicates the current page number.
The final two buttons on the surface of the remote are labelled simply [On] and [Off], for obvious applications, while a [Light] button on the upper right side of the remote can be used to turn the backlight on or off.
Universal Remote’s patented GemStone button finish is an extremely glossy, domed, firm rubber treatment that gives buttons an almost translucent appearance. As mentioned earlier, the original MX-500 initially shipped with a simpler matte finish that, while not appearing as good, tended to be easier to use. The GemStone buttons have the tendency to collect finger oils and become slick to the touch, but are otherwise quite attractive. Tactile response is almost too good with strong, positive feedback. All keys are white rubber with dark black, grey or blue printing.
In total there are 48 buttons – two less than the MX-500. Don’t worry, they won’t be missed! Gone are the three dedicated macro buttons at the bottom of the MX-500 (almost every button is now macro-capable on the MX-700), while a “Guide” key is added between the volume and channel toggles.
The remote features full manual backlighting. Thanks to the aqua green electroluminescent panel, the LCD screen along with all hard buttons illuminate brightly whenever the [Light] button is tapped. A dark purple ring highlights the menu joystick’s position. Interestingly, the LCD inverts whenever the backlight is enabled, creating white text on a dark background. This looks great in complete darkness, but causes labels to appear almost invisible under middling light levels.
They must go someplace!
All of these buttons demand a fairly large remote control. The MX-700 measures a hearty 9.0 inches long, 3.0 inches wide at the broadest point and 1.4 inches thick (23.0cm by 7.7cm by 3.6cm). Yet surprisingly, the MX-700 weighs just 8.0 ounces with four AAA batteries (225 grams), or 6.5 ounces without (180 grams) – quite light for its size. Nevertheless, it’s enough to give the remote a pleasantly solid feel. Despite not using a single visible screw, the MX-700 manages to resist all lateral twisting efforts.
Universal Remote has employed multiple techniques to effectively slim down the MX-700’s mass. The remote is widest only around the LCD screen, with a light bulb-shaped design that narrows to just 2.25 inches (5.7cm) wide near the menu joystick. In addition, the back of the remote is sculpted inwards, making it more comfortable for those with smaller hands.