|AMX MVP 7500 Touch Screen Remote|
|Home Theater Remotes & System Control Remotes & System Control|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Wednesday, 01 December 2004|
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The most important point I can make regarding touch screen remote systems is the importance of programming. A number of years ago, my father hired a so-called high-end design firm (no longer in business) to install a simple theater for his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, that included a DVD player, a cable box, a Sony receiver and a Sony XBR television. I encouraged him to use a touch screen remote to make things operate flawlessly, for which an older, smaller, black and white Crestron system was purchased. To be completely clear, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the Crestron system physically. What was wrong was the way the remote was programmed for such a simple installation. The images looked blotchy. The buttons were set to be either barely responsive or way too sensitive. My father finally obtained a simple Philips Pronto remote and gained the needed control of his system. This is a classic example of a good remote programmed poorly – something you must avoid, thus the need for you to hire a top design firm for your theater.
My AMX system was implemented by a pro in Oliver Pemberton, who is the head programmer for the Beverly Hills-based Simply Home Entertainment. Pemberton is proficient with both Crestron and AMX and has many of the coolest programming tricks already completely worked out and ready to install into your remote system. It is important before you hire a firm to install your theater or to do a whole-home automation system that you play with a sample remote system. If you don’t like the look, the feel or the implementation, I would look to hire someone else to do your system. In the case of Pemberton, his screen layouts are modern, sleek, colorful and intuitive – which is quite a compliment from this Mac user. I have been able to go to other Simply Home Entertainment job sites and sit down with the remotes (even the big 18-inch, hardwired remotes) and make the systems jump through hoops in mere seconds. Make no mistake, it is this level of simplicity and reliability that you are paying for. For a control freak, the AMX MVP 7500 is the ultimate weapon needed to tame your out of control home theater system.
Trickery with Touch Screen Remotes
My system is a very special case because, unlike most installed, large-scale home theater systems, my rig changes pretty often. The goal for Pemberton was to get my main components working flawlessly on the AMX system, so that I could switch others in and out as reviews demanded it. In one day of programming, he was able to get my system to speak fluently with my Meridian 800 and 861 DVD players and AV preamp. Many of my more mainstream sources, like my brand-new HD TiVo from DirecTV, also seemed to be made responsive to commands with simple ease.
The main challenges were the layouts of each of the component pages, because of the unique ways I personally use my system. For example, Tim Duffy, a partner at Simply Home Entertainment, likes to channel-surf on his DirecTV HD TiVo by using the “guide” button, so that he can look at a screen’s worth of channels (over an hour or two of upcoming programming) and then hit “select” when he is ready to settle in for a show. I use a different method that Pemberton was able to custom-program into my remote. Since the DirecTV HD TiVo integrates HD and NTSC signals in one component, I had Pemberton program a page that had the basics of the components’ controls with a bank of presets of my favorite channels, including the full color logos. This way, I can now surf all of the terrestrial and satellite HDTV channels with ease. In the past, if I was watching NTSC video through my Sony SAT-T60 TiVo, I needed to switch the input on my Faroudja NRS video processor to “pass-through” and then start accessing channels on my Sony HD-200 HDTV receiver. Often, if I wanted ABC, I would type in “7.1” but only “7” would go into the HD receiver, leaving me with the NTSC version of the show when I wanted HDTV. With the AMX system, I now get what I want, the way I want it. Thanks to the wireless Internet connection, the remote system knows the commands to send (in my case, there are commands for the projector, screen, lighting, AV preamp, source components and more – all for one system request) and the AMX NI3000 picks up all of the commands and redirects them in a way that simply and reliably works.
Depending on your level of perfectionism and how specific you can be with your programmer before he or she gets started, you might find that your system doesn’t need any tweaking. I made what for me is a big financial investment in my AMX system and I wanted it to really be the showcase of my home theater. To get the most out of my system, for the first month or so, I kept a legal pad in my theater room in order to keep notes of any little changes I wanted to make. Most of the changes were slight, like moving the TiVo fast-forward button to the main page instead of a secondary page, or having a different lighting scene for the “I’m Done” setting, which neatly turns your whole system off.
In a recent tour of a number of incredible homes and systems completed by Simply Home Entertainment in Beverly Hills, I was able to see AMX remotes perform some mind-boggling feats. In one 25,000-square-foot new construction home in Beverly Hills, I saw an AMX remote in a master bedroom access a Bellagio-like water feature with prancing water jets that squirted synchronously, controlled from hundreds of feet away. In the theater room, I was able to access accurate temperature controls for the home’s 26 HVAC zones. The theater was at 80 degrees, which I was able to quickly drop with ease while we watched the incredible new Sony $30,000 Qualia projector on a 15-foot-wide masking screen. The larger AMX system was able to automate the Stewart Filmscreen’s blackout masking to perfectly frame any number of video aspect ratios, from 4:3 to 16:9 and beyond. The instructions for correct aspect ratios were available for the client right on his screen.