PERFORMANCE The AVL300 is essentially a variant of Harmony's 890, so comparison is inevitable. Visually, where the 890 has smooth, rounded edges like an Audi TT, the AVL300 has a very square, no-nonsense design, kind of like a Honda Element or Toyota Scion xB. This does give it more stability when resting on the arm of a chair, and it also sits better in the charging/docking cradle. Another difference: The AVL300 eschews the 890's color activities graphics for chunky, text-only blocks such as "Watch a DVD," "Listen to CD," and so on.
A button at the bottom labeled "sys a/b" toggles between rooms, enabling control of different areas of the home. I programmed the remote to operate my living room theater system and the TV in my bedroom, and switching back and forth was easy.
Monster opted for a small joystick to navigate menus instead of the more common up-down-left-right-enter buttons. Upon seeing and feeling it, my first thought was, "That thing is not going to last." But it has proved durable - for now - and makes navigating onscreen menus a snap, though I occasionally hit the Select command (by pushing the button in) when I mean to navigate. The transport keys are arranged around the joystick in an easy-to-access manner, but the buttons only have icons (such as square for stop, arrow for play). I know what they mean, and you know what they mean, but does your babysitter or visiting relative? (My pride was only slightly wounded when my wife had to ask which is fast-forward. Clearly, I've not done my job as an A/V husband....)
One programming option is to add a favorite-channels lineup. There is even a "Fav" button on the bottom of the remote that takes you to this page. During programming, you are told to add graphic icons to represent the channels, so I downloaded the appropriate logos (ABC-HD, HBO-HD, and so on) and programmed the matching channel numbers. Unfortunately, the remote not only doesn't display the graphic, it displays just a blank box, making the favorite-channels feature virtually unusable. Pressing a button did issue the correct channel change, but it was guesswork trying to find the right button without any label. Monster suggested I remove the graphics. This displayed the channel number, making it moderately more useful. Clearly this is a ghost-in-the-machine leftover from the 890 software, in which adding graphics works as it should. Monster needs to either remove the option from its software to avoid confusion or, better yet, add the graphic support.
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