After piling on layer after layer of flannelly goodness, the final number for the MX-900 after which it could bear no more turned out to be 7, with absolutely nothing received at 8. This is a good though unexceptional result, and should be considered somewhat low for a high-end remote. Even the MX-500 scored over 60% better on the same test with a final rating of 11. Although it’s hard to directly compare numbers between the MTFC and the original MTFB, new tests on previously scored remotes have indicated an average multiplication factor of 2.4, so the likely MTFB score for the MX-900 would be 3 – the same as its big brother the MX-950 scored in its review. Regardless, the remote’s overall IR performance is acceptable with good off-angle operation. And with the MX-900’s improved RF capabilities, you may not even need IR at all!
The MX-900 is fast during normal operation, with screens (being text only) switching instantly. Macros sent directly from the remote can transmit at a rate of about 5 commands every 2 seconds. I saw no key lag between hitting a command and the resulting IR transmission, while the remote’s maximum command repeat rate is exceptionally snappy – something rarely seen on high-end remotes. Performance through the MSC-400 controller is marginally slower all around – macros transmit more placidly, there’s a slight delay on command transmission, and sometimes rapid key presses are sensed by the RF system as a continuous hold.
As we talked about at the beginning of this review, a well-designed universal remote control should remain viable for years after the manufacturer has long since forgotten about it. The older MX series of remotes has certainly stood the test of time, creating one of those rare situations where the manufacturer would almost prefer people forget about it... and get something new!
Unlike touchscreen models where programming one can quickly become an entire career, the MX-900 and (to a lesser extent) the MSC-400 are more efficient to configure simply because they reduce the number of aspects that need to be considered. Without graphics, sounds, font sizes and text colors to deal with, one is left with simply working on the nuts-and-bolts of a system and perfecting the user experience. Device or activity based? Single or multi-zone? Foolproof or versatile? The MX-900 is adaptable to almost any way you’ll think of programming it, and chances are you’ll get the job done quickly.
Of course the MX-900 isn’t a perfect remote – but neither was the MX-500 and look at how far it went! The MX-900’s minor design shortcomings don’t detract from the fact that it is an extremely usable remote that more than one-ups its esteemed predecessors in capabilities. Combined with the somewhat less refined but even more powerful MSC-400 Master Control System, the MX-900’s sophistication level is raised several notches higher, making the pair an ideal solution for entry-level custom installations.
More than “yet another” computer programmable LCD remote, the Universal Remote Control MX-900 can best be exemplified by the terms “well rounded” and “easy to use”. So much so that it just might be the catalyst behind the retirement of one worn MX-700, currently residing next to an easy chair draped in a fluffy, blue and no longer very menacing blanket.