Universal Remote Control MX-980 Reviewed

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URC_mx980.jpgThere are plenty of universal remotes on the market, but few outside the Crestron or AMX class of controllers can easily handle a large home theater system. Universal Remote Control's new MX-980 bridges the gap between the simpler remotes commonly found at mass market retailers and the multi- thousand-dollar control systems. The $599 MX-980 is sold through custom installer channels. If you find that you can get by with a less powerful remote, Universal Remote Control also offers models that are sold through normal retailer channels and that you can easily program yourself.

In order to get the full benefit of the MX-980, I recommend having it professionally programmed. Most systems can probably be programmed for a few hundred dollars, far less than the cost of programming a traditional Crestron or AMX system. The MX-980 can be programmed by any USB-equipped Windows-compatible computer. The remote itself is a wand-type remote with a large color LCD screen at the top. The screen can display the supplied graphics, or you can import your own. The remote features a motion sensor that will light up the device when it is picked up to save the battery life of the lithium ion battery. Other features include either standard or narrow band RF (in case of interference from nearby electronics), as well as IR capability.  

Additional Resources
• Read more remotes and system control reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Find an AV receiver to pair with the MX-980.

The real strength of the remote comes with its flexibility to control nearly everything. The MX-980 can be coupled with URC's MSC-400 base, which will provide the triggered macro capability, RS-232 and relay controls and video and voltage sensors. The URC software provides the installer with the basic code sets for most popular products to make programming easier (and reduce programming costs). These sets can be easily integrated into macros to make complete system control available to any user. For example, in my system, I simply pick up the remote and press "On," "Watch" and "PS3." This will cause the remote to determine which components need to be powered on, turn them on if they are not already on, then switch all the gear in the signal path to the proper input. URC has recently partnered with Lutron, so that you can even integrate your lighting into a macro if you so choose.

Read the High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2

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