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User reviews for the Home Theater Master MX-500 from Universal Remote Control Inc.
Home Theater Master MX-500
RatingsReviewsMSRP (USD)
Average: 4.80/5.00
Median: 5.00/5.00
The MX-500 is a 10-device all-buttoned remote control with an LCD screen for custom labels on 10 adjacent buttons. It includes full infrared learning capabilities, a preprogrammed database, 5-way joystick, macros and more.
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the Home Theater Master MX-500 remote.
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Written by Michael from San Diego.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 17 made on Sunday May 27, 2001 at 12:29 AM.
Strengths:See what everyone else says.
Weaknesses:I see 5 big weaknesses that are not obvious when reading the specs.

One weakness and it is a BIG one to me is that you cannot do macros within a device. For example, I want to select my TiVo, then have a single button that sends several commands on the device page. Nope, sorry, device page commands cannot be macros.

2nd problem, I need more pages within each device. It only has 2, thus only 20 commands per device. I really want to get rid of all my other remotes, but cannot because 20 buttons are not enough.

3rd. It has "guide", "menu", "exit" and "info" painted in gold above some keys. These are really useful keys for many devices like a Replay and TiVo(I have both). However there is no way to get to those buttons. They just use the FF, Rew, Rec, pause buttons. This is fine if you are running a SAT, but doesn't work for a PVR. It needs a "shift" key!

4th, this thing needs a PC interface. It is easy to program, but to move things around and get it right can be an exercise in futility...

The 5 way pad plastic ring needs to be lower. All the keys are a bit too hard to hit due to it.
Review:Nice remote, not quite what I had hoped though. Actually mine was broken out of the box, VCR2 device would not program...
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Scott from Pennsylvania.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 16 made on Saturday May 26, 2001 at 12:24 PM.
Strengths:Programmable labels, handheld size, good backlighting, ease of use once programmed, macro key functions, especially the ability to place macro on device keys.
Weaknesses:Preprogrammed labels not very associated with the functions they do, many features need to be programmed manually. Time consuming to program manually, would be helpful to have a full keyboard or pc link. Not effective as table use remote, since hitting some keys tips remote over (that being said, it feels very comfortable for in hand use). No ability to move key labels and learned functions once they have been assigned.
Review:Overall a great remote!

I have been a fan of Universal remotes dating back many years. My first fairly programable one was the Sony-RM-P700E (which is probably about 15 years old, and still worked fairly well until I retired it last week). I had upgraded to a Sony RM-AV2000 about a year ago as my main remote. It is a good remote, but given its size, it is mainly for table use. Also the inablility to really custumize labels limitted its value, and I found myself using some of the original remotes at times for functions that were not used that frequently (I could not always remember the key I had programmed to that function). Thus, the main advantage of the universal remote was not met, and I frequently had 2 or 3 remotes sprawled across the table. Also the device buttons were not illuminated, making for some trial and error selection in a dark room at times.

That being said, I was intested in getting a remote that truly replaced my other remotes. I wanted one that was handheld, and I still liked the idea of buttons with tactile feel, especially for in the dark use (while watching a movie). With the touchscreen on the sony, I had learned that you have to divert your attention away from the tv to search for buttons on the screen, and did not get any tactile feedback (although a beep signaled the choice).

The MX500 seems to be a close to perfect compromise. It uses tactile keys for many commonly used features, and labels on an LCD screen for other functions you need.

Now for a couple negative issues:

The preprogrammed functions did not correlate very well with the labels and alot of cleaning up was needed. The letter assignment is not easy to remember (a phone layout might have been easier, since most people know the letters on the phone), a keyboard layout would have been nice, and a PC connection a very nice upgrade.

The ability to move keys once learned and other editing features would be an improvement.

All functions were easily learned with the exception of one key on my Pioneer DV37 DVD player. It was the "clear" key, which is the only way to cancel several functions on the dvd player, so it was fairly important. There was a workaround, in the there was a button already preprogrammed that did the same function, although it was not on the LCD page that I had wanted. (I have a remote version that should be upgraded for pioneer)- make sure if you get this remote, you get the latest software upgrade, since prior versions I understand, had alot of trouble with pioneer components. (PS. I have a pioneer HD610 TV, DV37 DVD player, and an old Pioneer CD player/changer, as well as a Yamaha RXV995 audio/visual receiver, and a Comcast Digital Cable box, and all other buttons it seems worked fine, with only one attempt at learning) (with my sony's, I remember that learning, especially with my macros, sometimes took several tries. Seemingly not so with this remote).

Back to positives (since these are very numerous!)

The Macro funtions seem much faster than on the sony AV2000, were easier to program (in only one try). The device keys can also be programmed with macros, and I find this feature very, very useful. You can quickly switch between watching things on DVD, cable, and VCR just by pressing and holding these buttons for 1 second (this upgrade was also made, I understand, the prior 2 seconds macro time seemed like a long time to some on this message board). The same keys without the 1 second hold, have a dual function in that they only change the remote to that device. By pressing and activating the full DVD macro for example, I can switch the tv input to my dvd player, switch my receiver inut to the dvd player, and leave the remote on with the dvd keys present.

The 3 macro key buttions down the bottom, I programmed similar to the 3 on my sony. One turns on my system components needed for tv watching, with all the correct inputs selected, and another turns on all my devices and inputs for dvd watching (They also turn them all off when done). I do not yet have a 3rd button use.

All keys are well backlit, making night use very easy (as well as most keys being easy to find by touch.

I give this 5 stars overall! Not perfect, but as close as I have found.
The touchscreen remotes are a bit more programmable, but not as comfortable or as easy to use, flipping through many screens just to get to commonly used buttons, and PC connection would be a plus.

The best remote I have used.
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by David B. from Eldersburg, Maryland, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 15 made on Friday May 25, 2001 at 3:51 PM.
Strengths:Intuitive design, customization capability, and effective balance between LCD and push-button implementation.
Weaknesses:Pre-Programmed LCD layout not very useful.
Review:Like many of the reviewers in this forum, I too am a long-time sufferer of inadequate "universal" remotes. I am happy to report that I am suffering no more.

This remote is as close to perfect as I'll ever need for one reason: my wife can actually use it without calling me for help. The programming capabilities of this remote allowed me to set up a very intuitive flow between the various LCD panels that even my wife can follow. No more guessing. No more exasperated users.

Key to this success is the ability to combine buttons from several different sources onto single LCD panels. This does away with the need to flip among screens to operate discreet functions on different devices.

For example, I have two inputs set up on my Pioneer PRO-610 monitor: one for standard s-video switching coming from my Denon receiver (for general viewing - not all of my devices support component video), and a second Component Video feed that comes exclusively from my Toshiba DVD. By placing "Inpt1" and "Inpt2" labels on each of my DVD, VCR, and Satellite page-1 panels, I can easily swap monitor inputs without leaving my main device panel. So effective was this tactic, that I also placed a couple of other Monitor and Audio functions on each device panel.

With this strategy, I can manipulate the sound and video characteristics controlled by my Receiver and Monitor without leaving my DVD control area. Very nice.

My one gripe is a minor one. The pre-programmed LCD layout was not very useful for me. I wound up completely rearranging and "cleaning up" so much that I decided to start from scratch custom learning each button. The good news is that the MX-500 made it easy. After laying out my desired panel layouts on paper, it was an easy exercise to first edit all of the screens, then learn all of the codes. A little planning does go a long way.

In conclusion, this remote is simply terrific. I was very tempted by the lure of all touch-screen models like the Pronto and the MX-1000. To me, this remote is the perfect balance of LCD customization and push-button ergonomics. I'm extremely happy with my new MX-500.

So is my wife. And that's a good thing.
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Dan Bikel from Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A..
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 14 made on Friday May 25, 2001 at 9:12 AM.
Strengths:Like many have pointed out, strikes near-perfect balance between the rigid layout
of a hard-buttoned remote and the customizability of the touchscreen variety.
Weaknesses:One very minor weakness: no light sensor for backlight.(cf. Rotel RR-969, for example).
One less minor: no customizable names for hard buttons.
Review:My previous universal remote (for the last several months) was the Rotel RR-969, which in my opinion *used to* come closest to being the perfect customizable hard-buttoned remote (having played with OmniRemote for the PalmOS, I'm very much a hard-buttoned man). This review will sort of be, then, a comparison between the RR-969 and its "successor", the MX-500.

The MX-500 out-shines the Rotel RR-969 in the following four important respects:

1. Ergonomics: the button layout is quite ergonomic, as opposed to the Rotel's quite boxy layout.

2. The addition of the huge database of pre-programmed codes, plus the punch-through capability, make initial set-up much easier.

3. The larger LCD screen allows for more at-a-glance understanding of what commands are currently available (especially important for guest operators).

4. IR signal strength is much greater (according to this website, it is greater than any other universal remote).

Sadly, even this remote is not absolutely perfect. To elaborate on the MX-500's two minor weaknesses, both of which grew out of the good experience I've had with the RR-969 the last few months:

1. The RR-969 had a light sensor, which was a nice touch. It would be great if the awesome backlighting of the MX-500 could turn on automatically in a dark room.

2. The RR-969 allowed *every* button to have an associated name of up to 8 characters. It would be *wonderful* if the 7-character display at the bottom of the MX-500's prodigious LCD could temporarily flash a custom name for the regular hard buttons.

Overall, however, I'm extremely satisfied with this remote, and have relegated my RR-969 along with all my other, single-device remotes to a pituresque remote graveyard.
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Spiky from Mpls, MN.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 13 made on Wednesday May 23, 2001 at 10:58 AM.
Strengths:backlight timer, everything else
Weaknesses:sometimes it takes many button pushes to get where you need to be. Ex: Main, DVD, Page, button

Try to use macros and intelligent button-location to avoid excess pushes
Review:I shopped for months for a remote that had all the functions I wanted, almost got a Pronto, but I wanted real buttons. This remote is perfect for me.

Well, everything's been said twice in other reviews about buttons. This remote is fairly simple to program for everything (learning,codes,macros,etc). I havent' done a lot of programming yet, but what I've done was a breeze. My Pioneer LD worked like a charm, codes and learning (Rev B remote).

The size is great for me, although I do have fairly large hands. The weight distribution is excellent. The battery cover snaps on very tight, no rattling batteries. Although you could break the cover just trying to put it on, so don't change batteries without some concentration. The surface is second only to the RS-1994 for grip. The backlight has an adjustable timer and only functions when you want it to. Also, the button is in a good place, easily accessible in the dark. The LCD is good and solid, protected by lots of glass/plastic (not sure), you really can't affect it by casually touching it. The LCD also is readable from almost any angle, with or without backlight. Unique.

One big thing I want to point out. The manual actually is useful. There are some typos and it is a Rev A manual, my remote is Rev B.(with 1 second macro push and Pioneer capability) Other than those two minor issues, this is probably the best manual I've seen for a remote. I've got the RCA-810 and the RS-1994 and both manuals suck, esp considering these two remotes can be so powerful.
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Written by Scott L from Manhatton Beach, CA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 12 made on Friday May 11, 2001 at 5:46 PM.
Strengths:The best part, My wife can use the remote and I have been able to label special functions so she can figure out how to switch the Tuner input from the SAT to the DVD to the VCR or to the CD player. The macros are also great. If my wife can't figure out how to change around setting, she can just turn everything off and hit the device macro for what she wants and it all works. No more panicked calls in office because she can't get the audio of E!.
Weaknesses:Minor issue, but worth noting. The "Guide," "Info," "Menu," and "Exit" functions share the same keys as "Pause," "Record," "Back," and "Forward." This is an issue with Ultimate TV were all 8 functions need to be on the remote, and all 8 are used often. It is fixable with the custom buttons. Also an issue with my VCR that has a programmable menu. Same fix however.
Review:Ditto what everyone else has said. This is the next best device after Ultimate TV!
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Buddy Fones from Frederick, MD.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 11 made on Friday May 11, 2001 at 7:39 AM.
Strengths:Easy to program, Backlight is awesome! In fact everything so far is a strength!!
Weaknesses:None so far
Review:After reading the other reviews and the discussions in the forum I finally ordered an MX-500. I figured I would be happy if it was half as good as everyone said. Now that I have mine I can honestly say...WOW!!! This remote rules. Within 1/2 hour of opening the box and a quick look through the manual, I was programming, learning, editing buttons and creating macros, of all the other "universal" remotes I've owned this is by far the easiest one to use. The screens guide you through everything! One of the best features is the LCD buttons which you can re-name to duplicate any button on your old remotes. My wife is a huge fan of the "Favorite Channel" feature, now she can just look in the TV guide and press "HBO" or "SCIFI" without having to look up the channel number in the cable guide this and it's over-all ease of use has earned the MX-500 a 9.5 on the W.A.F.(Wife Approval Factor)scale. I can honestly say that the MX-500 has met or exceeded all of my expectations and I can recommend it without hesitation.
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