Throughout this review I will be referencing the MX-800, however most comparisons will also be valid for the computer programmable MX-850 "Orion" and MX-700.
Smarter than the av-er-age remote.
Some years ago, Universal Remote Control Inc. made a name for themselves in the custom installer business with the SL-9000 remote control (read our review), a basic hard buttoned model that offered plenty of keys along with a good helping of customizability. But it wasn't until the later MX-500 series (read our review) that they took the broader market by rave review, with its well executed mix of hard buttons and configurable LCD screen. Never before had such a capable and easy-to-use product been offered at its price point.
Naturally, the company banked on this success by building upon the first unit's capabilities: first with the PC programmable MX-700 (read our review) featuring twice the capacity, then the MX-600 and MX-800 (read our review) with RF basestation support, and most recently the aesthetically freshened MX-850. Of course, with each major new capability came the prerequisite price increase, so that the physically nearly identical series now spans from the entry-level MX-500 at $99 up to the deluxe MX-850 at $499... something for nearly every budget!
Even though the MX-950's model number would tend to suggest some sort of physical resemblance to the company's earlier MX-850, MX-500 or related models, it bears no real similarity. In fact, place the MX-950 and MX-500 side-by-side and it's unlikely that anyone would even think them made by the same company, never mind part of the same basic product series.
So where does the Aurora fit into all of this? Although it would be fair to call the MX-950 an evolutionary advancement of the MX-850 or MX-800, I prefer to think of it in opposite terms: as the MX-3000's capabilities shrunk down to the MX-850's form factor.
However, shrinking is a relative term! The MX-950 is in truth a fairly big remote: tall, narrow and, unlike earlier more sculpted MX models, generally angular in design. It measures a constant 2.37" (6.0 cm) wide along its substantial 9.63" (24.6 cm) length, save for two small semicircular indents near the middle. Its thickness also remains steady at no more than 1.05" (2.7 cm). The Aurora weighs 8.3 ounces (235 grams) with its rechargeable battery, or 7.5 ounces (210 grams) without. This is both narrower and thinner than previous models, but also longer and heavier.
The vertical sides of the remote begin with a straight lip where the top half of the case fits around the bottom half, which then gradually tapers narrower towards the middle. The rear of the remote has been curved softly inwards along its length in a concave shape that is both comfortable to hold and ideal for resting on a leg or couch armrest. Small hard bumps molded in the plastic near the center were probably intended to aid finger grip, but mostly just feel interesting. The MX-950’s case is a stylish monochromatic affair, with black, dark grey and silver elements. To enhance the high-end look the MX-950 is not plastered with company logos or model numbers on the front; instead there’s only the word “Aurora”... everything else is labeled on the back.