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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 5 of 23 for
the Home Theater Master MX-500 remote.
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Written by Mike Gillgannon from Canada.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 129 made on Tuesday October 14, 2003 at 12:32 PM.
Strengths:--Easy to program and use.
--Ingenious method for labelling certain keys.
--Powerful emitters.
Weaknesses:--Backlight looks cool but has its problems.
--A timer would have been nice.
--Not the sleekest remote you'll ever see.
--Can't duplicate one key to another.
Review:This is a nearly perfect remote, as you can tell by all the reviews here and the overall average score. I'll just focus on a few things, mainly things that could be improved.
The backlight is great as long as the room is quite dark, but if the room is in the twilight zone, the LCD-related keys are actually HARDER to read with the backlight. (The hard buttons are fine.) A more conventional lighting arrangement for the LCD screen would have been the way to go.
Research has probably shown that few people need timed macros, but I guess I'm one of the few that would like to have them (for channel changing a cable box and recording to a DVD recorder). So that's one thing, at least, that the Sony VL1000 remote has over this one, even though programming the Sony timer is kind of arduous.
Also, I'm surprised that you can't duplicate a device key to another location. It's impossible to get everything right the first time, and trial and error shows me that the most frequently used devices should be toward the bottom of the LCD screen, not at the top where you would normally put them. They're easier to reach one-handed when they're lower down. But now that "TV" is on the top right, that's where its gonna stay, since I don't feel like relearning 43 commands to another button.
One thing I really appreciate is the ease of labelling those 20 LCD buttons (actually 10 times 2, using the PAGE key). Each numbered keypad button cycles through three letters and one digit, except zero cycles through a dozen or so symbols plus zero. Simple as cake.
All in all, this is an ideal remote. And the price, at about $180 Cdn through, was good. That's with shipping, handling, GST, the whole bit. I've never seen this brand in Canada but a couple of posts here refer to it being available at a high-end shop in Vancouver for $350. That's crazy high!
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Written by Tony Rockliff from Florida, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 128 made on Friday October 3, 2003 at 11:51 PM.
Strengths:Great value. Very programmable. Well-designed joystick section inside transport buttons. Good mix of hard buttons and LCD that can be custom-labeled. Fully replaced 8 remotes here too.
Weaknesses:Keys don't light up when you touch them and backlight key is badly placed out of reach
Review:Not to copy the last reviewer but this is indeed the best remote that I've owned too. It's almost perfect. After spending a weekend trying to use my TIVO with the very frustrating new Harmony ST-659, I sent it back and ordered the MX-500 after reading the great reviews here.

The reviewers were right, this remote is very easy to program, solidly built and does just what it claims. It easily learned all my remotes and didn't seem to care where I placed the 2 remotes when learning keys. It's very forgiving and just learns the keys without fuss. I took various reviewer's advice and emptied it out and set it up via learning commands from all my remotes. Took a few hours, even having used the spreadsheets to plan it, but was well worth it.

The macros are great and enabled me to program quite complex shortcuts. The punch-through capability is very useful and being able to either add one extra command - e.g. receiver input change - or full blown macros to device keys is very useful, as is the 50 favorite channels section. Overall this is a very well-thought out remote. Being able to custom label the LCD screens is a major plus too.

From reading around various remote web sites I thought that I was going to need to get into discrete codes, JP-1's etc. but none of that seems necessary for my system. I was able to work out macros for everything I need to do and they don't seem to care if the off/ons are discrete or not.

I previously had an SL-9000 and this remote really addresses well the shortcomings that it had - especially with the joystick layout in the middle of the transport controls.

The only thing that is really disappointing is that the keys don't light up when you press them like various other remotes do (Harmony, One For All etc.) so at night you have to use the backlight button which is placed up at the top and out of reach for one handed use. Plus there's a non-functional bump on the left hand side that has no purpose but makes the remote uncomfortable to hold. With these two things fixed, this would be the perfect remote, at least for my needs.

For TIVO users it would also be nice if there two more buttons in the empty spaces between the volume and channel buttons. I'd also like to see the FF and REW buttons either raised a little bit or bigger. I still too often hit the arrow selector parts of the joystick instead but I've only been using it for a day so I guess I'll get used to it.

Overall, a great remote indeed.
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Written by Dave Jamison from Pennsylvania, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 3-6 months.
Review 127 made on Wednesday October 1, 2003 at 11:38 PM.
Strengths:You can get a great price if you shop around online. Easy to program. All hard button (not touch screen) interface. The 10 device keys double as "macro" keys. Replaced 8 remotes!
Weaknesses:Impossible to find in retail stores; forced to buy it online. Button labels are only 5 characters long. Reorganizing device buttons causes mismatch with the so-called "FROM TABLE".
Review:The MX-500 is the BEST universal remote I've ever owned. A previous reviewer said the MX-500's lack of a touch screen is a weakness, but it's actually the STRONGEST FEATURE of the remote. Before the MX-500, I thought a touch screen would be better, so I bought a Philips Pronto NEO. It was flexible, but I spent WEEKS designing the screens via computer (to download to it). After MONTHS of aggravation, I was ALMOST able to capture the functionality of my original remotes. Even with the latest firmware, the finicky Pronto NEO FAILED to learn IR commands from several devices. Tech support was not very helpful in solving my persistent problems. Touch-screen buttons (like the NEO's) have no tactile feel, so you ALWAYS have to look at the remote to find the buttons, and touch-screen responsiveness is slow. Instead of a touch screen, the MX-500 uses all hard buttons, and cleverly uses a backlit LCD display to allow you to create custom labels for 10 hard buttons. The remote supports 10 devices and 53 buttons per device, where 20 buttons PER DEVICE have customizable labels. These customizable labels give the hard buttons a "touch-screen-like" flexibility. My MX-500 effortlessly learned every command from all of my remotes, unlike the Pronto NEO, which consistently choked on them. The "punch through" feature was great to control TV volume from within any device.

Minor programming weakness: each of the 10 device buttons is preconfigured with a certain device type (e.g. upper left button is "audio" device, upper right button is "TV" device, and so on). This initial configuration is called the "FROM TABLE", which is constant and NEVER changes. Nevertheless, you can reorganize your device buttons, as I did, but then your device buttons won't match the FROM TABLE any more. The upper left button is ALWAYS the AUDIO button in the FROM TABLE, even if you've reprogrammed it into a "DVD" button! This just means that, during certain programming operations, you probably need to reference the FROM TABLE in the user's manual. It would be desirable if the MX-500's programming sequence could avoid the need for the user's manual in this case.

Bottom line: I now have one universal remote control that contains ALL the functionality of ALL my original remotes. Ironically, the MX-500 is the first and only "universal remote" I've ever owned that actually lives up to that name.
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Written by Jim Morrin from Chicago, IL.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 126 made on Saturday August 30, 2003 at 11:47 AM.
Strengths:Ease of Programming
Nice Tactile Feel
Well laid-out keyboard
Weaknesses:None yet discovered
Review:The MX-500 delivers just what it promises. Although I had read reviews of this product before purchase, I will still concerned about difficulties with programming it, but I needn't have worried -- programming is intuitive and easy. Of course as I progressed with my set-up I began to see better ways of doing things, but the MX can be de-programmed just as easily and set up differently without much difficulty. Overall, this is a terrific product.
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Written by Michael Bond from Ottawa, ON Canada.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 125 made on Thursday August 28, 2003 at 2:11 PM.
Strengths:It is an incredible product. I use to have to turn on the TV, then the Receiver and set it to DVD, then turn on the DVD, not anymore. It is nice to have Macro capability and when guests are over they no longer have to ask what remote controls what. I like having only one instead of my previous seven.

Very easy to program and understand, lots and lots of features. The "punch down" option is great and saves time programming many of the same commands.
Weaknesses:Only 5 character display.

I would have liked a touch screen.

A feature to activate the back light when any key is touched, would be a nice option.

Review:I am very satisfied with my new remote, I have had it only a few days and I don't know what I'd do without it. I strongly recommend this product to anyone who has too many remotes and is looking for something that is easy to program and is very user friendly. I would have rated it a 5 in all categories except it had a few weakness mentioned above.
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Written by starkanger from Ohio.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 124 made on Sunday August 24, 2003 at 11:11 AM.
Strengths:Limited amounts of codes, easy to handle, can control anything!!!!!!!!I even programed it to control my air conditioners.
Weaknesses:None that I can find so far. Even the price is good for what you get.
Review:By far the best remote I have ever seen. I will probably buy another one and give to my father for a gift. Great buy , don;t pass this one up
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Written by Chris from Vancouver, BC.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 123 made on Sunday August 10, 2003 at 8:48 PM.
Strengths:Hard-button design
Customizable LCD button labels
Weaknesses:A trivial point, but no "solid circle" symbol is included in the customizable labels symbol-set to represent "record", while the symbols for "play", "pause", "track advance", "FFW/RW", and "stop" are. This would have been handy for labeling the syncro-record function of a MiniDisc or CD-R deck, which is distinct from plain "record", probably already assigned to the hard record button of the remote. The label "S-REC" does the job, though.
Review:After much research at, it became clear
to me that the MX-500 was the remote of choice. Finding this remote in Vancouver at a reasonable price proved
impossible - two high-end audio retailers both carried it
for $350 CDN + taxes. I ended up purchasing it from, an HTM-authorised e-tailer, for $104.95 US
(roughly equivalent to $150 CDN) and $15 US shipping. No Canadian taxes were charged at the boarder either - an
added bonus.

The system that is now being ably controlled by my MX-500 is as follows:

Amp: Harmon/Kardon AVR225 (2002)
DVD: Sony DVP-S570D (2001)
CD: Pioneer PD-7100 (1987)
(yes - 16 years old and no problem for the MX-500)
MD: Pioneer MJ-D707 (1998)
VCR: Sony SLV-N88 (2002)
TV: Sony KV-27FS13 (2002)

I found the remote very easy to setup, the majority of the functions of most of my devices working using pre-programmed codes provided with the MX-500 (the only
exception being the Pioneer MiniDisc deck, for which a pre-programmed code wasn't available, but no surprise
there... I was able to teach the MX-500 all the MD commands no problem.) When it came to learning codes, the unit handled everything thrown at it, including the separate "On" and "Off" buttons on my H/K AVR225 remote. After reading about the unit's inability to handle "Discrete Codes", I was expecting to be unable to learn these. The MX-500 FAQ indicated the following:

' "Discrete" codes are commands that are designed to offer specific functionality. For example, an AV receiver might have both an On and an Off command, whereas a TV set generally uses a single command for both On and Off. At this time, the HTM library of codes does include Discrete codes, on a Device-only basis. That is, you cannot
individually assign discrete codes to buttons. However, if they are included with a preprogrammed Device code, they
can be used that way. '

Contrary to the FAQ, I was indeed able to teach the discrete on and off codes of my H/K amp to not only the main Power On and Power Off buttons respectively of the MX-500, but also to the "device buttons" beside the LCD display, even though none of the preprogrammed device
codes had worked. Either there has been a firmware update to newer MX-500s that now allows for this, or I am misunderstanding what constitutes a "discrete code", which is entirely possible. As a result, I was able to include learned buttons to turn on or off my amp when the MX-500 was set to control my CD, MD or DVD players - very handy.

While the MX-500 had trouble learning some codes at mid-afternoon inside lighting conditions (reporting "Good" even though the resulting code didn't function), taking both remotes in to a dark room (a walk-in cupboard, for example) resulted in the MX-500 learning the codes without any further problem.

I found the customizable two pages of 10 buttons provided for any device to be more than enough to accommodate any
functions not included in the main hard buttons. Indeed, with a few exceptions, I was able to put everything needed
on to the first page for a given device. In the case of the CD player, I had room to also include basic MiniDisc
recording functions on the same first page ("Syncro-REC", "Pause", "Stop"), making dubbing from CD->MD a snap
without having to juggle remotes OR switch pages/devices within a single remote - very slick.

As for wife-acceptance of the MX-500, I hadn't even finished programming the remote before my wife was fighting with me to have control over it!

All told, the MX-500 has so far lived up to my expectations, which were extremely high after having read the glowing reviews on This remote can't be beat at any price point. If you're in Canada, though, don't pay the $350 that retailers here seam to want for it - buy on-line. Even if you do get charged boarder duties, it's much cheaper.

I should also point out that it is worth taking the time to plan the layout of the customizable pages in advance. You will soon realize that there are some functions that you will want to include in multiple devices that are nice to put in the same location. The TV or Amp Power buttons are a good example, where you are likely to want to include these in both your DVD and VCR modes as a customized LCD button, the hard power button already controling the DVD/VCR when in those modes.
Quality: Features: Value:

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