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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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Now viewing user reviews page 22 of 23 for
the Home Theater Master MX-500 remote.
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Written by Jim Roberts from Dayton, OH.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 10 made on Tuesday May 8, 2001 at 9:21 AM.
Strengths:Looks cool! Love the back lighting.
Weaknesses:Lack of detail in the manual.
Review:This is my first learning remote with the macro option and it's been tough to learn how to program it. It would be real helpful to have a video tape included showing how to program this thing for idiots like me. I am sure I will eventually overcome my ignorance and get this remote to do it stuff, but it should not take days to learn. I want to turn-on my Toshiba RPTV, set it to receive my DVD imput, start my Yamaha receiver set to DVD output and finally my DVD player. I would be willing to pay for this if it was available.
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by tim k from seattle, wa.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 9 made on Monday May 7, 2001 at 3:47 PM.
Strengths:ease of use, backlighting, code learning, macros, plenty of buttons and a nimble joystick. adheres to the "keep it simple stupid" school of design.
Weaknesses:tough to clear out programmed codes and devices. can't press device buttons while remote is resting on table. awkward to use number buttons using only one hand.
Review:i've been sitting on the sidelines for a few years now, waiting for a remote like this to come along. it was worth the wait.

it has learned any code i've needed, the macro feature is delicious, and the backlighting is nice.

the joystick on this remote is much more responsive than any other in my remote collection. ReplayTV is much easier to navigate, and i don't have to search for cursor keys on my ridiculous Denon remote any more.

it's a joy to just press one button and have all your devices configured and ready for viewing.

i only have three real gripes:

first, it doesn't make it easy to clear out codes/devices/labels (i.e. there's really no "erase device" feature). so you basically have to go in and manually clear out unused labels and such. i don't even know if you *can* clear out a key code.

second, when the remote is resting on a table, if you try to press one of the device buttons, the remote falls over on it's side making it awkward to use these buttons. oft times i am eating a meal with the remote resting on the table and i can't easily use these buttons w/o picking up the remote.

lastly, using the number buttons on the bottom half is a little awkward using only one hand. it practically falls out of your hand since you can't really hold it and press these buttons at the same time. but the only real solution to that is to build a remote with dead space on the bottom.

otherwise, go buy this remote! you won't regret it. i don't think anything out there touches its features in this price range. for that matter, i don't think there ARE many universals like this in this price range. which is why i'm so happy about it.
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Written by Robert from New York, NY.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 8 made on Sunday May 6, 2001 at 6:40 PM.
Strengths:Great ergonomic layout.
Cool bright backlighting.
Easy set-up.
Easy to read LCD display.
Weaknesses:Codes for TIVO (Sony svr-2000) did not work, had to program manually.

Pre-installed layout did not meet my needs, I erased pretty much everything and started from scratch. (I have done that with every remote I have owned)
Review:Goodbye Pronto-2000, Hello MX-500. I was a little hesitant to buy this remote at first, but after reading all the great reviews and with the company's 30 day money back guarantee I did it. This remote has FAR exceeded my expectations. It is very easy to set-up and program. It has a great feel to it when it's in your hand. The backlighting is really bright and very cool looking. Like I said, the pre-installed layout that comes with the remote did not meet my requirements so I basically wiped them all out and reconfigured everything, which was a snap to. This is a great remote! I have owned the Marantz RC2000 and the Pronto 2000- I have to say that this remote beats them both.
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Written by Stew Weis from Missoula, MT USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 7 made on Thursday May 3, 2001 at 6:35 AM.
Strengths:IR signal strength
The Concept: LCD panel to provide labels for custom buttons.
ease of programming
ease of use
quality of materials/workmanship
Weaknesses:none major
Review:Programmable Remote users fall into one of two camps: those that prefer the unlimited flexibility of a programmable LCD panel, and those that prefer the tactile "feel" of hard buttons. However, there is a clear downside to both.

While the LCD panel can be virtually unlimited in its programmability, the user must actually look at what he/she is doing to use the remote.

The disadvantage of most hard button remotes is that invariably there will be some function for any given device that the user will need to assign to an unused button that really doesn't fit the label of the button. Before he/she knows it, the user finds themselves saying "Now what button did I program for (insert function here)?"

From a "perfect-remote-criteria" perspective, the MX-500 enjoys the closest proximity to perfection.

I, too, just received mine a couple of days ago, and have several hours invested so far. I do not have it ideally tweaked just yet, but I can easily see that this baby is going to suit my needs better than anything I've tried so far. And I, too, have tried many remotes, from the very pricey Lexicon 700T to HTM's own SL-9000. One thing I have learned is that I am definitely a "hard button" (vs. LCD panel) fan.

To start with, it's the littlest things that really make a huge difference. I appreciate, for example, the MX-500's learning ability. All commands are learned quickly and positively, so learning many commands from a dozen or so OEM remotes does have to take several hours! I also love the power! The user does not have to concern themselves with mounting a spotting scope on the remote for perfectly aimed IR transmissions, just to get the device(s) to respond! A rack full of electronics responds to the MX-500 every time, without fail. Again, it's the little things that make a big difference, and really need to be there before any of the "bells and whistles" become meaninful.

In my system, which is fairly complex (Proceed PAV/PDSD preamp/processor, DVD, LD, tuner, CD, two VCRs, two cassette decks, SAT, TV), the single-command capability of the ten LCD buttons is adequate, as all that I need to do is to switch sources on the pre/pro.

I use the "System Off" button as a macro that powers on/powers off the entire system. But being labeled "System Off", I have taken one step further away from "Guest-in-my-home-being-able-to-operate-my-system-without-instructions" condition. My point is, however, that with the entire system being powered on to start with I believe is what makes the ten LCD button "single-command" work well for me.

What I would like to see as an addition, is "punch-through" capability on any and all buttons, including the ten LCD buttons. For example, there are certain sound-field controls on my pre/pro, such as center-channel level, rear level, that I would like to have available on all devices. This could actually be accomplished by a variation of your (Carl) proposed "move" command, as a "copy" command. In other words, the ability to copy any button from one device to another device. In the case of the ten LCD buttons, a button copied from "page 1" of one device will always copy to "page 1" of the "copy to" device. Likewise, a button copied from "page 2" of one device will always copy to "page 2" of the "copy to" device.

In conclusion, HTM has managed to get one, if not several, steps closer to that elusive perfect remote control. I know that I will be enjoying mine!
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Written by Carl Calabria from Indianapolis, IN USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 6 made on Wednesday May 2, 2001 at 5:38 PM.
Strengths:Ergonomics on every level (size, shape, button layout, tactile feedback, illumination)
Ease of programming
IR transmission range
Weaknesses:Subtle (as noted below)
Review:I received my MX-500 (1-sec macro delay version) a few days ago and have been customizing it ever since. This remote has come very close to meeting every expectation I have for the perfect remote. Alas, I have a few suggestions that I am hoping HTM will seriously consider.

First, my criteria for the perfect remote.
(a) A guest in my home is able to pick up the remote and operate my entire system with no instructions (i.e. Press the DVD key and hit play. Press System Off when done)
(b) I can control any function of my system from the remote without having to commit anything to memory or having the original remote at hand for certain functions.
(c) I should be able to control my systems most common functions (channel guide surfing for example) without having to look at the remote.

I will start by saying that the MX-500 comes closer to satisfying these criteria than any other device I have ever tried. And I have tried a bunch.

Four suggestions to reach perfection.

(1) When SYSTEM OFF is set up as a macro it should be possible to end on the MAIN page after execution. I have been following the thread on this subject but have seen no solution yet. With this capability, anyone picking up the remote will be starting from a common point at the top of the menu heirarchy. If a guest picks up the remote and it was left in the TV menu, it will not be instantly obvious how to select the CD player.

(2) As it stands, the 10 FUNCTION keys perform up to three functions. First, it will take you to the coresponding sub-menu (always). Second, you can optionally teach it a single command which will be executed as soon as the button is pressed. Third, you can optionally teach it a macro which will be executed after the button is held for one second. I believe the single command capability should be replaced by an immediate macro (disable single command and set macro delay to zero seconds). In my setup (TVSAT, DVD, HTPC, Hi8, VHS, CD, Tuner and Lighting) selecting a device from the MAIN menu requires powering up the necessary components, changing video inputs on my projector, and audio sources on my receiver. I accomplish this today with the 1 sec macro, but holding a key this long would not be intuitive to a guest. Furthermore, I must wait EVERY single time I switch sources. Losing the single command capability present today would be of little consequence since that could be programmed up as a single command macro. Incidentally, this would solve another problem. If you have a single command programmed into the FUNCTION key and wish to build a macro from the keys stored under that functions sub-menu that command will be included in your macro even though you only hit the button to get to the keys underneath it.

(3) In order to set up my system the way I wanted, it was necessary for me to purchase an OFA Cinema7 to teach the MX-500 discrete on/off power commands. It would have been very nice if these codes were pre-programmed. A SYSTEM OFF macro is useless without discrete power codes. On a more selfish note, it would be wonderful if you could preprogram Sony sound fields (AFD, SOUNDFIELD+, SOUNDFIELD-, SOUNDFIELD PRESET+, SOUNDFIELD PRESET-). I believe this would be very straightforward. Although more difficult, it would be very valuable to also preprogram discrete soundfield keys (JAZZ, HALL, STADIUM, etc). I think may Sony owners would love you for this as there is no good solution for this problem due to the way Sony chose to implement these codes.

(4) You should include an option under the ERASE menu to erase pre-programmed lables for a given device and an option to erase pre-programmed commands on a given key. There are workarounds for both of these, but they are tedious. A move button (command and label) function would be a sweet addition as well.

I give the current MX-500 a 9 out of 10. With these changes, they would get a perfect score. BTW, my best previous remote scores a 5.

Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Andy Kaylie from New York, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 5 made on Monday April 30, 2001 at 1:24 PM.
Strengths:Ergonomic button layout
IR output
Cool backlight
Weaknesses:Won't learn all commands from some remotes
included codes lack many features
Review:I replaced my Marantz RC2000mkII with this remote and couldn't be happier. The button layout is ideal for Tivo owners (I have 2). The ir output is extremely strong and doesn't need to be pointed directly at the device you wish to control. Each device button can learn one command (no delay), useful for switching inputs, as well as operate a macro (1 sec delay). The macros also "fire" off at a fairly brisk pace, unlike the Marantz. The back light is unique, effective and very cool. It's very well balanced and extremely light for the amount of power it has, weighing half as much as the similar looking Marantz. HTM really researched the market well with this remote and came up with the most usable design I've seen yet. Though there have been some early release "learning" problems, the company has been extremely responsive in finding solutions.
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Written by Arjen from Michigan, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 4 made on Tuesday April 17, 2001 at 9:42 AM.
Strengths:True, this product is awesome. Main strengths to me: buttons, buttons and buttons. Great layout, great feel, great rocker. Learning on each button, no memory problems. With twenty custom labeled buttons per device, you do not need to guess what a button does.

But let me be the first to also point out some weaknesses.
Weaknesses:The MX-500 is not quite up to par with the Pronto or T2 in terms of usability for untrained users (but in all fairness, it also does not cost nearly as much).
Review:The most confusing matter to untrained users is probably the issue of input selection on e.g. TV and receiver. Although the MX-500 allows you to program a macro under each device button to handle such things as powering on devices and input selection, the method to activate this macro (hold device button for 2 secs) is not the most intuitive. I think most untrained users have little concept of having to execute a macro, they simply want to turn the darn TV on and expect it to be ready to go. So they would select a device from the main screen (or keep the current if already selected), and expect that to only affect the mode of the remote. Then they press Power, and assume that should be enough to start using their device of choice.

On the T2 and the Pronto, you can assign any macro to the Power button you like, unique per device. On the MX-500, the Power and System Off buttons allow for system wide macro's only (or for device specific single commands). In my opinion, this is the only real weakness of the MX-500. Other than that, this remote is GREAT. Probably the absolute best choice for button people.
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