But in the end, everything worked as it should. And when the bugs were finally squashed, the lighting control was very cool, offering performance on the level of automated systems costing many times as much. Lighting scenes are what make automated lighting so slick, and creating them and setting brightness levels is simple and fast. A very custom touch is the ability to tie lighting scenes to activities. Hitting the "Watch a DVD" button on the remote, for example, can turn off lights around the house and dim your theater room. A custom "Romance" activity might turn the TV off, turn XM Radio to light jazz, and dim all the lights. Of course, you can access and control lighting scenes independently of your A/V activities. A "Good Night" scene, for instance, could turn all indoor lights off and outdoor lights on; a "Party" scene might highlight certain works of art. The possibilities go on.
BOTTOM LINE I am a huge fan of Harmony-based remotes, and the Monster Cable Monster Central Control AVL300 fits nicely at the head of that family. Granted, Monster charges a premium over the cost of the Harmony 890, and it doesn't include Harmony's renowned tech support. On the other hand, I have had such inconsistent connectivity between the 890 and its RF station that the Monster's rock-solid reliability alone makes it worthwhile. (Harmony claims to have addressed these instability issues with updated firmware. They have told me this problem was fixed with firmware in the past, however, so time will tell if they have finally resolved the bug.) When you factor in the ability to control systems in different rooms of your home, plus Monster's great and affordable system to automate your lighting, the small difference in price between the remotes becomes insignificant.
Last but not least, Monster has ambitious plans for future home control and media server products that were teased at the recent CEDIA show. The AVL300 will play a role in the "complete solution" Monster hopes to offer, so what you see today is just the tip of the iceberg! Put it all together, and Monster could become a real 800-pound gorilla in the home control market.
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