As the saying goes, "good things come to those who wait". Folks looking to purchase the Home Theater Master MX-1000 since the date it was first announced have especially had a lot of waiting to do, with various delays postponing the public release almost an entire year. But now, the wait is finally over. Was it worth it? Letís see!
One cannot live on virtual buttons alone...
Simply put, the $290 USD Universal Remote Control Inc. Home Theater Master MX-1000 is a 12-device touchscreen learning remote control with full customization and PC editing capabilities. The very first thing most people notice about the MX-1000 is the unusually refined physical design. A large touchscreen at the top of the remote is flanked beneath with two buttons, [MAIN] and [PAGE]. Below that are further buttons for power, volume and channel controls. Just under those, surrounded by four transport control buttons, is the item that makes the MX-1000 a truly unique product: joystick menu control.
Having separate hard buttons for both volume, transport and menu controls displays an excellent design decision by Universal Remote. The major complaint about their earlier SL-9000 model was the lack of dedicated menu controls: it seems theyíve gone beyond the call of duty to compensate! Although not a new or unheard of implementation, the MX-1000 was the first fully learning remote announced to sport such a feature. Full five-way operation allows users to navigate device or disc menus and press the stick to make selections. Itís the absolute smartest use of a half inch (about 1cm) diameter area possible. Since every hard button has a unique shape and placement, it seems easy to locate a particular one when youíre groping in the dark. On the right-hand side of the remote is a LIGHT button for enabling the full backlighting. At the very bottom is a small jack for connecting to a PC. Although the unit I was shipped did not include a cable, it appears to use a durable 1/8" headphone jack.
The over eight inch (20cm) long remote tapers gracefully from about three inches (7.7cm) wide around the LCD to two inches (5cm) at the bottom. Despite appearing top-heavy, strategic placement of the battery compartment keeps the balance point dead center. Although well over an inch (2.5cm) thick, the bottom sides of the remote are angled inwards to provide comfortable finger grips for holding. This ergonomic styling required the four AA batteries to be mounted in a 2-by-2 arrangement, rather than the more traditional 1-by-4. Iíve been plagued by remotes with mysterious rattles in the past, so itís nice to see that batteries are held securely with foam on the door: shaking the remote proves nothing is moving around inside.