Thanks for the compliments and comments on the MX-1200. I don't post on Remote Central as often as I used to, but I do pay attention to comments about the products I help design. Sometimes I can respond, other times I can't. Sometimes I can say why I'm responding, other times I can't.
The orientation of the Menu/Guide/Info/Exit keys is something we standardized on a little while after the MX-900. If I recall, the MX-980 was the first to use that orientation. Our studies of button use indicated that although Guide is a really important button, on devices that have both Menu and Guide, Menu is used more frequently. Exit was put where it is specifically to make it harder to accidentally press.
I understand your concern about the asymmetrical Vol/CH keys, but it was a conscious decision. Although part of it involves the look of the remote, we also take into account that the asymmetrical form makes it much easier to identify the buttons by feel. For most people, location isn't enough tactile information, so the shape makes it much easier.
The port on the bottom is a power port. If you should ever run out of battery, you can unplug the power cord from the charger base and use the remote with the power plugged in directly.
I'm surprised to hear that your 5-way is really loose. You may want to double check against another MX-1200 to make sure yours is built to tolerances.
I made ergonomics a big priority on this remote. I always felt that the 980 is a very "manly" size, so I wanted the 1200 to be more compatible with the hands of wives and children. The contours on the back were designed to create natural resting spots for your thumb to land on the touch screen, the navigation cluster, and the transport cluster.
I'm a member of the Remote Central community, just like you! My comments here are my own, and in no way express the opinions, policies, or plans of Universal Remote Control, Inc.