Monster's AVL300 ($399.95) is a universal remote that can control up to 15 A/V devices and up to six entertainment systems around the home; it is also designed to work with Monster's IlluminEssence lighting controls and other Z-wave products. The remote has a vertically aligned, handheld design with 49 hard buttons and a two-and-one-third-inch, non-touch-screen LCD, with a 128 x 160 resolution. On its own, the AVL300 controls devices using line-of-sight IR, but it is also RF-capable. A single OmniLink RF-to-IR base station is included in the package, which allows you to control products that are located in a cabinet or separate room. (Additional OmniLinks can be added.) The remote uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery; a charging base is included.
At $399.95, the AVL300 is a mid-priced universal remote that offers a lot more functionality than many remotes at the same price point. That advanced functionality does not equal complicated set-up, primarily because Monster's Central Control programming software is based on the popular Harmony platform, a simple Web-based system through which you create activities like Watch TV or Watch a DVD. The Central Control software has a slightly different interface than the Harmony version, designed to accommodate its multi-room functionality and optional lighting control. While the software isn't quite as quick and intuitive as Harmony's version, it still makes it very easy to add devices and set up the remote to control multiple systems around the room. During the set-up process, the software asks whether you would like to incorporate control of the Monster IlluminEssence lighting products, such as dimmers, switches and scene controllers. This, too, is a fairly straightforward process that provides the ability to link lighting scenes to various remote functions. For instance, press the "Watch a DVD" button, and the lights in your theater room will fade to black. Monster's ControlNet RF technology is also compatible with the wireless Z-wave RF protocol, so you can configure the AVL300/OmniLink system to control Z-wave-equipped lighting systems, thermostats and shades from other manufacturers.
All in all, the AVL300 is easy to set up and easy to use, and it provides reliable control of A/V gear and IlluminEssence lighting products. Thanks to its multi-room functionality, you can configure a single AVL300 to control several systems around the house, which means you have to keep track of fewer remotes. However, the Central Control software is flexible enough to let you program up to six AVL300s to use throughout a single home.
Read The High Points, Low Points and Conclusion on Page 2