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Home Theater Master MX-500 Review
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...Continued from Page 12.

The fourth revision (GS2) seeks to correct the "Enter" problems of the third. This version is ever-so-slightly softer to press in any direction than the previous GemStone design, but is still quite firm. The good news is that it's much easier to press "Enter" and more reliable, although you can't be overly firm and must press exactly in the center and not at a slight angle. This pad features a flat bottom as in the third revision, but this time it is raised upwards and more comfortable to press. Even though this version is an improvement over the previous one, I still feel that the very first thumbpad was the best and has yet to be equalled.

Home Theater Master MX-500
Click to enlarge. (45kb)
A case for changes.
Along with the more expensive MX-700's PC capabilities comes a serial connector on the remote. The MX-500 itself may not feature this capability or require the connector, but that didn't stop Universal from economizing on a single lower half to the plastic housing for both remote versions. This involves a "bump" that sticks out the lower left-hand side, where the serial cable would normally attach.

On the MX-500 this bump serves no practical purpose; the upper half of the case merely fills it in. The problem isn't really that this exists - we can all understand the need to keep production simple - but in its current position the connector creates an uncomfortable lump when holding the remote in your left hand and using the numeric keypad. The connector would be less obtrusive if placed on the bottom of the remote, instead of the side.

Finally, some minor changes are apparent on the LCD screen - the backing is colored slightly darker and more yellowy than the original, but this has no effect on overall visibility. For those keeping track of every minor change, the [PAGE], [MAIN] and [FAV] buttons have changed from light blue to black printing for the GemStone finish.

Another conclusion...
And so, that sums up everything new or improved with the MX-500 since our initial review. The MX-500 remains one of the most powerful products in the remote control world. As for the numerous (ineffectual) thumbpad changes, it goes to show that sometimes you really need not "fix what ain't broke"! Still, I strongly recommend the MX-500 in its new form for fans of hard buttons: it stands as one of the best thought-out products in this class with a strong following and excellent customer service from Universal Remote Control.

- Daniel Tonks (Remote Central)

Home Theater Master MX-500 Data Box
Price:$149 USD
Contact:   Universal Remote Control Inc.
Phone:(914) 835-4484
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