The sad irony of home entertainment technology is that we love new media devices, but we hate their remotes. It’s not that the remotes are bad (although some are terrible), it’s that we hate the way they accumulate on the coffee table and add unnecessary complexity to what is supposed to be leisure time.
Consider the simple act of switching a home entertainment system from music mode to television mode. In the average living room this task might involve selecting three separate remotes from a pile of six and pressing the correct commands on each in just the right order. Pick the wrong remote or press the wrong button and you might spend 20 minutes trying to undo your mistake. It’s sort of like taking a roadside sobriety test in your living room – every single night.
I’ve been there and done that. I’m here today to tell you that my life was changed by the MX-500 universal remote. If you’re like I was a few years ago, the words “universal remote” conjure images of cheapo Radio Shack remote controls with hundreds of buttons and incomprehensible programming instructions. Those remotes are just as bad as the problem they’re supposed to solve. The MX-500 is not one of those remotes.
The key to the MX-500’s success is that it combines a standard button based remote control with an LCD screen that allows me to easily label a bank of 10 buttons for specialized device functions. As a result, I can take even the most complex remote control and map it’s functions onto the MX-500 in such a way that the most arcane features are easy to find and use.
The MX-500’s macro creation ability allows me to easily attach multiple commands to a single button. When a macro button is pressed the remote sends signals to multiple components. As a result, anyone in the house can reliably (and mindlessly) switch modes – from television to music to DVD and back again – without having to play remote control shuffle.
Overall the MX-500 is quite ergonomic, if a bit large. The buttons are well laid out and provide a tactile feedback that more expensive LCD remotes don’t. A button on the side of the remote turns on a backlight that illuminates the MX-500 in the dark.
Best of all, the MX-500 passes the most stringent technological review known to man — the wife test. Oh, and it’s reasonably priced too, available online for around $70.
As far as electronic devices go, the MX-500 is relatively future proof. New entertainment components come and go, but the MX-500 remains, ready to replace any new remote control that might find its way into my living room.