If you consider that pile of remote controls on your desk a sign of your techno-savviness, think again! The home theater industry has spawned quite a number of all-in-one remotes — from your basic programmable remote to huge touchscreen devices that can even dim your lights!
Sony’s RM-AV3000 is an update to the 2100 model they released three years ago. The design has been improved, but it still reminds me of those handheld computers from Star Trek Voyager, though a tad thicker. It features a touchscreen area and 27 hard buttons for common functions such as volume, channel selection, menus, etc. Three of these buttons are dedicated macro buttons — allowing you to program a sequence of events into the remote: say turn on the TV, amplifier, and VCR, then switch to MTV.
The LCD screen employs a “fixed” design, which means that all functions have been pre-worked out, they just appear when they have to, depending on the function. A row of programmable buttons on the LCD bottom allow customization. I’ve programmed mine with labels for CNN, BBC, MTV, HBO, Star Movies, etc., so I won’t have to ever remember what their channel numbers are.
Another cool feature of this remote is the timer function — where you can have the remote automagically turn on your TV at specified times, and even turn on your VCR and record a show, just in case your VCR isn’t too user-friendly when it comes to programmable recording.
I still have to get used to the touchscreen LCD, nothing beats the tactile feedback of a solid, square button in the dark, without having to look at the remote. It’s all too easy to press the Stop LCD button when you only meant to Pause last night’s recording of Sex and the City.
The MSRP for the AV3000 is US$199, but I got mine for less than US$100 at eBay.