A New Remote-control Monster
March 07, 2007
When I first saw Monster’s newest universal remote control, I knew right away that I just had to try it out. I’m a huge fan of allin-one remotes so that my coffee table and living aren’t smothered with a million remote controls for every little device I own. The clutter would kill me!
I currently use the Logitech’s Harmony 880, but the next solution is Monster’s MCC AVL300-S. It was featured at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show and was picked as an honoree for the Best of Innovations Awards 2007 (Home Theater Accessories category).
As much as I love my 880, the AVL300 is definitely a step-up since it can control the lights, and it’s infrared (IR) capable. It sends RF (radio frequency) and IR (infrared) signals simultaneously, giving it the ability to reach your electronics from almost anywhere in your house. The OmniLink RF to IR bridge makes this all possible by translating RF signals into IR signals. RF signals can travel through walls, cabinets and doors so you don’t really have to point this remote directly at your gadgets.
The OmniLink is included with the AVL300 - it’s a little box that’s about the size of a small wallet. It has four IR outputs, and the IR emitters are dual so you can setup eight components. You can use the remote without this OmniLink, but instead of ignoring it, you should take full advantage of what it has to offer. As a side note, I did not experience any RF interference in my house.
When I first received the AVL300, I had bad luck because it was defective. I could-n’t update it to the latest 4.7 firmware and I kept getting frozen screens with lines down the middle. Despite that, the folks at Monster were wonderful and quickly sent another one out. With the working replacement in-hand, I had no problem updating the firmware and programming it to the various gadgets living in my house. I was surprised with the first AVL300 I received, and I’m almost certain the mishap was a fluke because these remotes are made by Harmony. I think those are the best ones on the market (with my beloved 880 in mind), so don’t let my misfortune turn you away.
To the non-techie, the AVL300 may seem intimidating, but don’t let it be. It’s extremely easy to set up. The first thing you should do is make sure it’s charged up. The included charging cradle is conveniently shaped in a way that you can use your remote even while it’s charging. You can then plug it into your computer and follow the very user-friendly step-by-step, Web-based instructions on what to do and what you’re trying to add to your remote.
For testing purposes, I added on my TV, PVR and Xbox 360. I also plugged in and configured my in-wall remote dimmer module for one of our lamps. The lamp plugs right into this white module, and you plug it into the electrical outlet. Ah, it’s nice to simultaneously control the TV and the light while I’m planted on the couch.
If you want to go above and beyond what you really need to do, once you have your remote properly configured, you have different options to tailor it to your needs. You can change the layout of the screens and match each button to each function you want. Add on channel logos of your favorites to be creative, or customize the buttons for one-touch complex commands (send complex macro commands to multiple audio and video components with one touch).
If you have a larger house, or multiple components to control, this remote is definitely for you. The nice, bright color LCD screen and high-tech looking design gives it an added appeal. If you don’t have much in your home (electronically speaking), then it would definitely be a bit much for you.
You can buy Monster’s MCC AVL300-S remote for $499.95 at Circuit City (www.circuitcity.com). I know it’s pricey, and probably the most expensive one on the market, but you can’t beat combining all your remotes into this better one with its added features. Additionally, the remote dimmers, switches and light stations range in price from $99.95 to $149.95.
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