When you’re a gadget freak like me, sometimes you just acquire too much electronic equipment. And, of course, many of them come with remote controls. I have two TV’s in my living room right now, add my DVD player, VCR, two satellite boxes, and you have way too many remote controls. So I decided to buy a universal remote. Strangely enough, Hong Kong seems much more limited in terms of remotes available. A quick scan on www.remotecentral.com and I noticed one strange phenomenon – most of the remotes are made by US manufacturers (although probably manufactured in China or something). So how come there are none available in Hong Kong? I couldn’t find a Pronto or the Harmon/Kardon remote anywhere in Hong Kong. But on the site, I did notice that there was a Sony model available – the RM-AV2100. It looked neat. Big blue LCD screen, fully programmable with macros, etc. I wanted one.
So I went to a nearby electronic store and checked it out. I was disappointed – I didn’t realize it was going to be so big. I wasn’t overly excited about it so I was just sort of contemplating my choices when I came across the RM-VZ950T. It was small, simple, yet at the same time functional. I hadn’t ever seen this model anywhere on the web. Remotecentral.com has a RM-VL900 so this must be the updated version.
OK, here we go again, theVooner is going to comment on appearances. Well, too bad, this thing looks awesome. I don’t want to get into the argument all over again, but sometimes we choose things for the way they look. This remote was designed specifically for aesthetic purposes. The box says, “This commander is given a handsome appearance … sculptured to look good in your living room”. The front of the box has a big “Art Couture” sign on it. I agreed with the box, so I walked out of the store with a new Universal remote.
Having chosen the RM-VZ950T though, don’t be surprised if I end up getting the larger RM-AV2100 later anyway. (Weird, I seem to be buying more remotes when I’m trying to cut down on the remotes that I already have!) Well my thinking is that I’ll probably need two remotes: one for the bedroom, where I can control the satellite box, DVD player, stereo, and TV, and another for the living room where I’ll have all the other stuff. As you might have read, I’ll be moving apartments this July so after I get settled in, it’s more than likely that another remote will be called for. Back to this one…
The RM-VZ950T is covered in a metal casing. It does not have the typical cheap plastic feel to most remote controls. I really like the way it feels – it is heavier than other remotes and has a very “solid” feel to it. In many ways, this reminds me of the remote that came with the Bang & Olufsen stereo I had sometime back. The remote is sturdy, sleek and yet functional. I particularly like the jog dial they put on the remote. But the jog dial is only used to switch between different devices and it’s not programmable. I also like the little LCD screen. Although it actually doesn’t do anything except show which device you are presently controlling. Still, it looks pretty neat.
The remote works easily enough. It is of course preset for Sony devices. You can control up to 8 different devices, and the RM-VZ950T is pre-programmed for TV, Satellite, VCR, DVD, CD, MD, Tape, and Amp. The nice thing is that you can re-program any of these to any device you want. The RM-VZ950T comes with programmed codes that will operate most other brand’s equipment (including B&O, which previously was a problem because of its use of a higher frequency). After setting up the code for my Sharp LCD TV, I re-programmed some of the other buttons. Unlike the more advanced RM-AV2100, the RM-VZ950T does not have the ability to program “macros”. Hence, you can’t get the remote to turn on the TV, cable box, and DVD player at the same time from just one push of a button.
One really neat thing is that you can rename all the various devices, and then move them around. This is useful so that you don’t have to always be searching through the menus. I programmed the control of my TV’s on either side of the cable box. Thus, I’m always just one click away from controlling my major devices instead of having to flip through the entire menu.
In the end, this is just like any other universal remote — it serves its function. If you are in the market for a Universal Remote and you don’t want to be bogged down by creating “macros” or hooking up the thing to a computer, then the RM-VZ950T is your ESSENTIAL buy. But if you want more control, then I recommend the RM-AV2100. As I said earlier, I’ll probably be reviewing that one next month!