MX-500, Observations & a Few Questions

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by SeanA, Jul 27, 2003.

  1. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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    I just took receipt of a new MX-500 remote this weekend and spent several hours programming it and putting it through it's paces. I sold my Sony RM-AV3000 simply because I didn't care much for the LCD touch-screen concept. The Sony was otherwise very powerful and functional. Some comparison notes between the RM-AV3000 and MX-500:

    1) The Sony was slightly more powerful, both in terms of signal sending and programming potential.
    2) The Learning function was easier to use on the Sony because it allowed you to learn a key and change the name of the key in the same step/procedure.
    3) Once programmed, the MX-500 is definitely easier to use in terms of ergonomics and finding the right keys. Although the Sony has hard buttons for some of the most common devices, which means you don't have to hit a "Main" button just to get to the "Device" menu.
    4) Owner's manual for MX-500 is easier to use. The Sony manual was intimidating.
    5) Sony worked on everything. There were two instances of commands I tried and tried to learn to the MX-500 that would not work (see "questions" below) when I tried to use them on my TV, even though the commands appeared to take.
    6) Sony had 7 or 8 spaces for re-labeled functions compared to only 5 for the MX-500. It is sometimes difficult coming up with a recognizable abbreviation with just 5 symbols.

    All in all, even though the Sony has some advantages over the MX-500, I prefer the MX-500 for plain old "ease of use". It is a very nice remote for the price, but here are a few things that could use improvement:

    a) More steps for Macros. I found, to my surprise, that 20 steps doesn't go very far when you are programming in menu scrolling. I had to use two macro buttons to perform the sequence I desired.
    b) Better Joystick button. It just does not give you a positive/confirming feel... it is very sloppy. I think this is about the worst joystick I have encountered on any remote I have used, and the only big disappointment I have with the MX-500.
    c) Pre-programming codes were pretty much useless. The pre-programmed functions did not match up well with my equipment, so I ended up over-riding all of these with "learned" keys. I would recommend skipping pre-programming altogether.

    Now for a few questions:
    A. As I mentioned above, a couple of learned keys do not work on my Sony XBR TV even though I got the "good" signal from the MX-500 indicating that the key was learned. Has any one else experienced a similar problem with the MX-500, and is there any way to correct ???
    B. Does the LCD screen ever turn off ??? If not, will this put a drain on the batteries ?
    C. Is it possible to learn one MX-500 key/function to another MX-500 key/function (just using one remote) ?
     
  2. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    Sean: Interesting comparison...

    I was already an MX-500 user when I tried the Sony 2100 (the 3000's predecessor) a little over a year ago. Let's just say that I never was seriously tempted to keep the Sony.

    Since some of your impressions were different than some of mine, I thought this would be a good place to relate some of my experiences on the 500 versus the touchscreen Sony. (These are only my impressions...not necessarily facts. Hopefully helpful!???)

    I never thought the 2100 was even close to the 500 programming-wise. Nearly every key of the 500 can be re-labeled and used for nearly any function. Not so with the Sony (actually with either the 2100 or 3000.) (The Sony's are limited on what labels appear and where they appear although the 3000 is better than the 2100 in this regard.)

    Infrared power-wise, I thought they were similar. Both better than many out there...

    I found learning easier on the 500. I setup the labels first, then learned the keys second. As I mentioned above, the Sony just didn't have enough labels. (The Sony 3000 is a teeny bit better with it's four keys per screen that can be custom labeled but having only 4 per screen is woefully short, IMO.)

    I agree that from a user friendly standpoint, the 500 is superior. With the exception of the channel up/down and volume up/down, the Sony keys weren't always easy to find (here again, the 3000 is better than my 2100 was.)
    And while I don't find hitting the MAIN button to be much of a hassle, remotes that have hard device buttons are handy. This is one thing I noticed several years ago when I switched from my old Marantz RC-2000.

    Manual-wise, I didn't like either one very well. In fact, there are few manuals with any gear that I have found to be well written. I guess I felt that both remote manuals were ususable but the number of user questions on the web for these remotes kinda proves to me that there's still a ways to go...

    There are some instances of the 500 not being able to learn some Phillips branded codes (other-wise known as RC-5 protocol) but Sony TV's have not been an issue before (more on this below.) I have only had one GO-VIDEO VCR code that my 500s wouldn't learn no matter how I tried.

    Yes, thinking in terms of 5 characters is sometimes a bit tough. But in general, the examples in the manual (plus my own creations) have always worked well for me.

    As for the MX-500 "wish list":

    I can't remember reading for a very long time that anyone wanted more macro steps, just that they wanted more macros in general. I guess I curious what task you're doing that would need so many steps??

    The thumbpad has been a topic of discussion for quite some time. HTM has used 2 or 3 slightly different designs that gave different "feelings" (the pad itself was never changed, just the tactile user feedback it gave.) Recent versions seem to have been pretty decent compared to the one they were supplying a couple of years back. Bottom line is that you're not alone in feeling that it sometimes gives a less than warm, fuzzy feeling about the button push you just made. (One thing I would advise that may help is to place the curved part of your thumb (just in front of the knuckle) in the center, not the tip. Then just rock (or push to enter) your thumb for each task. Think of the joystick as a true thumbpad, not a typical point-to joystick.) For me, I have no issue with the thumbpad at all. I find it quite intuitive. (But I have been using one for a long time.)

    You are 100% correct that the MX-500 should be setup as a learning remote. While the pre-programmed codes are somewhat handy and would get one using the remote quicker out of the box, the MX-500 is not at it's best unless the key functions are custom labeled and learned.

    As for your questions:

    You should not be having an issue with a Sony TV. What functions can't be learned? I have a 20" Sony that I learned everything from and I have a friend that has a 36" XBR and he has everything learned on his too. Here is a link for some learning tips http://www.remotecentral.com/features/irtips.htm

    The screen does not go off. When you load up fresh alkaline batteries, depending on back light usage, you should get 2 or 3 months worth of usage. This is one nice thing about the 500 that I like. It's always easy to see where you are. (BTW, the batteries that come with it won't last as long as later on. Apparently learning and labeling uses the batteries more than regular daily use.)

    Finally, the 500 deosn't allow you to "move" a function from one key to another. I always just learned the function to the other key.

    I hope some of this helps. Here is the HTM forum over at remotecentral.com It's a great resource for MX-500 questions. http://www.remotecentral.com/cgi-bin...aster/list.cgi

    Good Luck!
     
  3. MikeSRC

    MikeSRC Second Unit

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    I think Chuck pretty much covered it all. The only thing I would add is that if you're going to learn all the buttons from your original remote (which is definitely the best way), apply the AUX 155 preprogrammed code to the device first to remove any underlying codes. While learning overwrites the button, there are often some lingering effects from preprogrammed commands that affect macros adversely.

    Also, when learning anything but repeating function buttons (like Volume or Channel Up/Down), just give the button on the sending remote a single push. Don't hold it down.
     
  4. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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    Chuck & Mike,

    Thanks for the great feedback. After reading your comments, I realized I probably should have given the MX-500 a couple of months before making a comparison to the Sony (since I did have the RM-AV3000 for 3 months and the MX-500 for only 2 days). I think some of my opinions may have swayed more towards the MX-500. For instance, I may get the feel for the joystick as Chuck suggests.

    As for the macros, I used almost 10 steps just to navigate (joystick toggles) through the Sony XBR menu in order to turn off the speakers. I was trying to go from watching TV mode to watching a DVD with a single macro. I did think about using the "muting" button, but somehow it seems to make more sense to turn the speakers off. Maybe there is a quicker way to navigate through menus that I am just not aware of ?

    The functions on my Sony TV that appear to be learned to the MX-500 but don't work are: "Ant" (antenna) and "Menu" button. The "Menu" function actually works from the Sony pre-program code I initially ran and it was assigned to the button in the upper right surrounding the joystick, where you would expect it to be. (I think this is the only instance where I retained a pre-programmed function). However, I wanted to have the "Menu" function on the LCD screen instead... but alas it does not work there. And I can't understand why the "Ant" function won't work because it is very similar to the "TV/Video" toggling function which does work. I think I will give Mike's suggestion a try, and only give the key a single push... I was holding the keys down. I may give the AUX 155 code a try too, but than I need to start from scratch.

    Hey, I just realized this is "the" Mike from Surf Remote Control. Just wanted to say that you have a great website, and great service !!! I did buy my MX-500 from you and will be checking back on occasion.

    Thanks again fellas.
     
  5. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    Sean: As you may or may not be aware, there are discrete codes available for many Sony TV functions. IOW, if you use Video input #2 for some source but Video #3 for most everything else, you can get codes that will go from the one input directly to the other (without having to go thru all the input toggling.)

    There are a couple of ways to get these codes. The cheapest is to get a One For All remote that has the JP1 connector in it. Then connect the OFA remote to your PC and get codes from others or re-create them yourself using the JP1 cable/protocol.

    I will look and see if I can get a code for the speaker issue (I don't know if there is one or not.) The menu thing is very wierd. Keep trying using some of the ways mentioned above.

    We'll get you going!
     
  6. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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    Chuck,

    I didn't realize that was the purpose for the One for All remote. I saw that Mike sold the One for All as a package deal with the MX-500, but just didn't understand why I would want both remotes. Now I do, and wish I would have gone with the package deal. The codes for the individual video functions would certainly be great to have. I think I wasted some steps running through these as well.

    BTW, I got the learned "menu" button to work using the advice you and Mike offered. I first tried the single push method with the remotes about 6 to 8 inches apart, but it would not take. I had to move the remotes to within about 2 to 3 inches, did the single push, and it took. And lo & behold, my "menu" button now works. I tried this same technique with the "Ant" function, but this one seems more stubborn. It takes, but still won't work on my TV. I will keep trying though.

    Thanks for taking the time to educate me !!!
     
  7. MikeSRC

    MikeSRC Second Unit

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    Hi Sean,

    Does the "Ant" button simply switch the TV to that input, or does it have an additional function when you push it a second time? Also, does it make that switch no matter what input the TV's currently in?

    Make sure you have reasonably fresh batteries in both remotes. A couple of other things to try are varying the distance between remotes (as you've already found out has an effect) and even varying the amount of time you hold the button down while learning. While the single push is usually the best way to go, some buttons require some variation to be learned.

    Regarding the One for All remotes, you can pick up a JP1-able One for All 8810 at Wal-Mart, or a Radio Shack 15-2116. If all you need are advanced codes (which may very well be the case with the Sony), then a Radio Shack 15-2103 would do the trick.
     
  8. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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    Hey Mike,

    The "Ant" button toggles between the two antenna inputs, and that's all. It seems to work just like the "TV/Video" button. And it seems to always work no matter what the current input.

    I will try your suggestions on varying distance and hold time. I think the batteries are still good, but I will try a fresh pair just to rule that out if nothing else.

    Thanks !!!
     
  9. Garrett Adams

    Garrett Adams Supporting Actor

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    Sony TV users have been searching longer for discrete codes for the Ant button function than others have for the Holy Grail. Bottom line to date is that Sony code is toggle only.
     

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