Control Spotlight - Home Theater Master MX-700 Remote
By Steven Kramer
For all the complexity that goes into a custom-installed home theater, end users are always interested in simplicity. But simplicity isn't just for the consumer, its an important aspect for installers too, because they usually spend so much time setting up the remotes for their customers, sometimes long after the job has been completed.
Over the past few years, remote controls have come a long way, particularly through the advent of PC-programmable models. But setup for these models can still be a time-consuming task. The Home Theater Master MX-700 remote is positioned as a solution that will make both consumers and installers happy. It's a hybrid hard-button/LCD unit that connects to programming software that contains an extensive database of preprogrammed IR codes, and comes with a second simplified hand unit for everyday use. In theory, the installer can quickly get the MX-700 going for the customer, and the customer gets a controller that even grandma can use.
Installers who have experience with Home Theater Masters' popular MX-500 will instantly get a feeling of deja-vu with the MX-700. Outside of a color change to a pearly gray and a few minor button refinements, the units are physically similar. There's a high-contrast LCD window at the top of the unit which displays the various source selections and functions, and is surrounded by 10 hard buttons the company calls GemStones. Directly below this screen are three more buttons — a Page button that toggles through pages of menu screens, Main, which brings the user back to the main menu screen, and Favorite, which stores favorite channels. All three have a nice feel.
Below these functions is a round joystick-type controller disc which is used for navigation, and is surrounded by buttons for dedicated transport controls and play modes. Below these is a standard numerical keypad. All of these functions and displays can be backlit. The main unit itself is rather large, but the ergonomics are excellent, and even small hands will find it comfortable, if not exactly lightweight. The unit runs on 4 AAA batteries, and has a claimed IR range of 60 feet.