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From the MX-700’s bright “sandstone” finish (also known as “beige”), it would seem that Universal Remote had done away with the MX-500’s dark blue coloration. Not so! Flip the remote over and you’ll find the bottom half of the case is an identical blue – a classy, if unusual, combination. In contrast to the GemStone button finish’s glossy appearance, the plastic case has been coated in a matte paint that offers a firm grip, surprisingly good durability and excellent fingerprint masking. My original still-in-use MX-500 manages to look and feel practically brand new, despite much wear and many tumbles off the sofa. The MX-700 should hold up equally as well, although I’d expect the lighter color to show more marks.
Positioned in the lower half of the case is a battery compartment, which has a cover that latches securely. Placing the batteries lower in the remote compensates for the top-heavy nature of the MX-700, resulting in a dead-center balance point. On the bottom left side of the case is a small protrusion housing a headphone jack-style serial port connector. I commented on the awkward placement of this “nub” in my MX-500 version update – I would have thought the bottom edge of the remote, which is already nearly flat, would have been a much better location for the port. In its side position, the connector manages to be a minor annoyance from an ergonomic standpoint.
Rethought, not redesigned.
Button-wise the MX-700 has made several improvements over its predecessor, despite a nearly identical layout. Specifically, the cluster of eight buttons surrounding the menu joystick has been completely rethought.
First, the blue light-up raised bezel encircling the joystick has been trimmed back from the triangular fast-forward and rewind keys positioned on the left and right sides. This was a real problem on the MX-500, where the keys were so embedded in the bezel that they became difficult to press. Next, the four outermost buttons have been pulled away from the bezel, making them easier to find by feel alone. Finally, nearly all of these buttons have been repurposed with new functions. The dangerous no-safety [Record] button is gone, along with the two practically unused chapter skip keys (which are normally assigned to channel up and down). Those three keys have been reassigned to [Menu], [Info] and [Exit] tasks. Add in the new [Guide] key and the secondary function labels that were printed on the MX-500’s case are no longer needed. Excellent optimization!
The MX-700’s 5-way joystick (still a rare feature on universal remotes) features the same high-durability construction as the MX-500 “GS2” edition. Universal Remote Control has experimented with various joystick designs since abandoning the early MX-500’s tactilely ideal yet supposedly problem-prone 5-way switch. They seem to have settled on a new microswitch system. The MX-700’s joystick operates well, with a reasonable amount of pressure required to press any direction, plus complete transmission reliability.
My only critiques about buttons are with the placement of two keys: the [Info] button, inset partially in the bezel above the menu joystick, can be a little awkward to hit, and the [Guide] button directly above it is positioned slightly too close to [Info], despite plenty of available space. I also wonder if those two labels should have perhaps been reversed.