MX-450 Remote: Back to the Future? Page 2



The remote's gloss black finish looks really high-tech and shiny and will be at home in any A /V system, but shows fingerprints and smudges badly and would make a perfect prop for catching someone on CSI.

It also has a substantial feel, and is one of the heavier remotes I've encountered. While the manual says it weighs 6.9 ounces, with the 4 AA batteries it is closer to 10. However the remote feels good in your hand and the buttons are logically positioned and spaced far enough to ensure reliability. The only keys that might prove a challenge to folks with oversized thumbs are the up-down-left-right navigation keys.

I'm so used to remotes that feature a motion sensor to automatically come to life when picked up, it took some getting used to having to press a button to "wake" up the MX-450 screen. Undoubtedly this saves battery life, but it would be nice if it had a motion sensor that could be turned off. Meanwhile, all the buttons are backlit a cool, light blue (except for Record, which glows lightsaber red), and are easily readable in any lighting condition.

After I dialed in the programming, I settled in for some heavy testing: channel surfing and music browsing. The MX ably handled controlling my DVR and music server, letting me quickly and easily switch between activities, plus adjust surround and video settings at will.

The IR output does seem to be less powerful than other remotes, requiring me to point it more carefully at my components. My receiver, at the bottom of my rack, seemed especially susceptible to not responding. Like if my feet were in the way, it wouldn't pick up volume commands - a problem I haven't had with the other remotes I've lived with.

With a rated lifespan of 18 continuous hours operation (ie: pressing buttons with backlighting and LCD on solid), this thing could be called Methuselah. In fact, URC says it should last months between battery changes for most users. It also includes a really slick "stuck button" feature in case the remote falls between couch cushions or something. If a button is pressed continually for 30 seconds, the remote turns off and won't come back on until the button is released. This is one of those simple, ingenious features with great real-world application.


For people looking to replace their pile of remotes and simplify system operation, the MX-450 will do a great job. Even with the giant warning sticker on the box, programming is easy enough for most users to handle on their own.

The downside: not having any computer interaction means each remote is a singular creation. That means that programming is started from scratch on every remote. For a user programming one, this is no big deal, but for an AV professional who might sell dozens of these, each job will take the same amount of time instead of just dragging and dropping in some pre-made templates. For this reason, I don't think it will be a huge hit among the integrator crowd.

However, the remote does have an ultra-sneaky USB connection located in the battery compartment. (In fact, Universal had to point it out to me!) And an application is in development that will allow programmers to archive existing files and update the IR database to add codes as new components continue to become available.. When this becomes available, it should make the remote even more interesting to custom installers.

With so many remotes available, you might be asking why you should choose the MX-450 over another model - say a similarly priced Harmony. For one, the computer and Internet-free programming method will appeal to those who might be intimidated by technology. For another, this remote's ability to add Universal Remote's rock-solid radio frequency operation means that it can offer control far beyond its price.