Review: Universal MX-450 RF Remote Control
At $249, this Universal Remote with a colorful LCD will control up to 18 devices. And it's easy for your installer to program.
Spiffy MX-450
April 06, 2009 by

Universal Remote has delivered PC free programming in a beautiful and solid package. With minimal time invested, a typical setup can be programmed in a matter of minutes. With little more than a couple of preferential problems, we can’t help but recommend this as a great remote for the installer who requires on-site programmability without the use of a laptop.

Introduction and Build Quality
This Universal Remote comes in a plain, but sleek package. It could even be considered beautiful, especially when compared to most standard sized remotes. When you open this package you will find the remote, a small user’s manual and the batteries needed to get the thing running. The build is no deviation from the norm, but nonetheless looks and feels better than most. The majority of the hard black plastic face of the remote is finished in a high gloss. This high gloss face forms a ridge down the center of the remote, as two curves on each side wave in, out, in and then out again. This forms an attractive double hour-glass look that adds to the look and the ease of familiarity with the remote. These four curve-ins are recessed a fraction of a millimeter and are further offset with a matte finish and reserve a special place for the volume, channel, and six other key buttons. All of the buttons pop just a little, as they are glossy, but a shade lighter than most of the face.

As I held the MX-450 the first thing I noticed was the weight. It is substantial – bordering on too heavy, but definitely better than some remotes that get knocked off of the arm of the recliner with the slightest breeze. Along with this substantial weight is a solid build. Nothing about it is loose or flimsy, everything is compacted together and there isn’t much gap between face and body mount, button and face, or LCD screen and face.

The full color LCD is great, especially given its utility in the programming mode. Like most remotes with an LCD screen, the screen times out after 10 seconds of no use. This feature is adjustable from 5 seconds to 60 seconds, but we wouldn’t recommend more than 20 to maintain a decent battery life. This brings us to one downside of the MX-450, the lack of a recharging/docking feature. While with the short time-out of 10 seconds we observed great battery life, that 10 second time-out was just too short to get us through the reading of the info menu on any given show. Maybe we’re slow readers. Of course you just hit any button to bring it back up, but which one? Mute and unmute? It just was bothersome.

The buttons used most are within a thumb’s reach of the standard holding position: Select, Up, Down, L, R, Play, Pause, Volume + and -. This can only be expected. But as with most traditional layout remotes, we still found ourselves stretching to span that great distance between the standard holding position and the A button on at the top left of the LCD screen to confirm the deletion of last week’s episode of “The Office” after we’d watched it five times. Your setup will vary of course, but a small bit of aggravation awaits the user of those top buttons, no mattter what they are assigned to. Which brings up the point that we could have assigned the A button of our DVR to a button closer to our lazy thumb. That is the beauty of this remote, you could do that reassigning on the go, no laptop – but we’ll get to that in a second.

Remember when you got your first TI-82 calculator, and you programmed it to do your math homework for you? Well, programming the MX-450 is a little easier, in full color, and of course the result is better than getting your homework done. By holding down the Main button for 5 seconds, you enter into the remote’s on board programming mode. Not only do you enter into the programming mode, but the programming mode for dummies. An instructive tip screen appears, telling you to use the cursor up or down buttons to move through a list. Hit the next button and you get another tip, this time cautioning you that the buttons at the bottom of the screen change meaning from screen to screen. OK, now that we’re past those two screens (which we can and will turn off via the main menu) we get to the good stuff. The third screen in to our programming mode, our main menu looks like this:

  • Basic Setup
  • Advanced Setup
  • Favorite Channels
  • User Settings
  • Display Tips

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Product: Universal MX-450 RF Remote Control

Price: $249

Performance: 4 out of 5

Value: 3 out of 5


  • Solid build quality
  • Color LCD display
  • Quick, PC free set-up


  • Squeaky button(s)
  • LCD display is small
  • No recharging dock

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