Monster's tabletop $50 remote control

Monster AV50

Though it looks like it was ripped straight from the dashboard of a 1974 Chevy Nova, Monster's new AV50 remote control is an all-new piece of gear. The AV50 is a tabletop remote, designed to be plunked down on a flat surface near the couch and kept there, rather than constantly jumping between users' hands and the undersides of the couch cushions. .

Underneath the myriad backlit buttons, quaint compared to more expensive touchscreen remotes, lie some fairly sophisticated electronics. A web-based setup wizard and USB port lets users configure the remote through their computer, and customizable activities can be set to automate complicated home theater functions.

The price point is the most appealing aspect of the AV50. While most web-programmable remotes that support activity macros can cost over $100, Monster's new model can be purchased for a scant $50. It's not nearly as powerful or flexible as a Crestron remote that costs 10 times as much, but it might be a good solution for users who want a nice, big, stay-in-one-place remote but don't want to spend a lot of money. The AV50 ships in July.

Will Greenwald