URC MX-980 Universal Remote and MRF-350 with Light Control Comparisons & Conclusion

Comparisons & Conclusion
I've had various universal remotes in my home theater over the years, but my two favorites have been URC's Home Theater Master MX-700 and Logitech's Harmony One. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

The now-discontinued MX-700, much like the MX-980, was meant for custom installers or for serious hobbyists—like me. There is a learning curve to the programming, and the WAF (wife-acceptance factor) isn't as high as the Harmony One's. Additionally, it doesn't have RF control for system components or light control.

The Harmony One is a terrific remote. It's easy to program and the WAF is very high. In fact, I programmed the Harmony One for my entire system in less than an hour, but I didn't like that it only offered three activity selections on the main screen, and my wife called me numerous times to find lesser-used activities hidden behind the main page. Also, like the MX-700, it doesn't offer RF support or light control.

The MX-980 is a fantastic remote, but it doesn't come cheap—the list price is $600, and the MRF-350 is an additional $250. The light switches and dimmers are $150 each, so using the remote to its full potential reaches four figures. In addition, if you don't feel comfortable programming it yourself, you can add an additional few hundred dollars for programming costs.

Overall, the MX-980 is the best remote I've ever used. Programming it isn't for the faint of heart, but it's possible to accomplish with time and patience. And once it's set up, it works flawlessly for everyone in the house—even the babysitter. If you're looking for complete control of your home-theater system, be sure to consider the MX-980. It's worth every penny.

Highs
Great ergonomic feel
Endless programming options
Vast database of IR codes
Bright LCD screen
IR and RF support
RF light control

Lows
Non-standard button layout
Programming software needs some polishing

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