And options – there are actually backlight options! Users can choose to keep everything lit between 10 and 90 seconds or (for those who prefer their contextual remotes unusable in the dark), disable the light completely. LED brightness can be adjusted between 8 different levels, starting at “deep navy blue” and working up to “Blue Man Group”. The [Light] button (which feels far improved from the over-firm one used on the MX-850) can also be used to turn the backlight off manually. If I had any objection, it would be that the light yellow printing used for the oh-so-important [Listen] and [Watch] keys do not allow the backlight to shine through. Still, this is otherwise one of the most impressive hard buttoned remotes to use in the dark.
The screen isn’t left without setup options either. It can have its contrast adjusted between 32 different levels, and can be configured to continually display content as with the MX-500 through 850 models, or shut off and save [admittedly minimal amounts of] power after 10 seconds through 20 minutes of inactivity. Thoughtfully, pressing one of the multi-purpose buttons when the screen is powered down will turn the remote on but not send the attached command. All other keys operate instantly regardless of the display’s state.
If desired the MX-900 can sound a beep tone whenever a key is pressed, the perfect feature for annoying those around you. The tone can be adjusted between three different volume levels that range from “squeaky key” to “heart monitor”, or turned off completely.
In Complete Control
When URC released their first computer programmable remote, the “they’d just as soon forget about it now” MX-1000 (read our review), it was configurable by either PC software or standalone editing. In fact, without the aid of a PC it was potentially the most configurable touchscreen remote produced. But the PC-based side of the equation failed to resolve nearly as impressively, even after a mulligan rewrite. Ever since, Universal Remote has concentrated on just one method of programming per remote, so when you buy one of their computer programmable models today don’t plan on doing too much without the assistance of a Windows XP or Vista-based system with an available USB port.
As mentioned earlier, the MX-900 is part of the company’s “Complete Control” series of professional grade remotes, which means that it’s primarily intended for custom installers. Due to a policy shift around the same time that the MX-900 was first introduced, this means that none of the company’s current Complete Control remotes ship with the requisite PC editing software on CD – instead, the authorized retailer or installer obtains this software direct from the manufacturer.
In the case of consumers purchasing a remote to program themselves, it’s up to the retailer to include the necessary software when they sell the product, either on CD or from a secured download site, and conversely up to the consumer to ensure that the retailer is an authorized vender and can actually provide said software. Authorized retailers can choose to give purchasers either the full “Live Update” edition of the software that can be updated instantly over the Internet, or a different “non updateable” version which omits that feature and may not be nearly as current.
In cases where the customer simply can’t obtain the software, Universal Remote maintains a last-resort download site for “non updateable” software that requires the remote’s serial number to access. So, you’ll want to check beforehand on exactly what you’ll be getting!