For over two years the Sony RM-AV2000 (AV2000) LCD touchscreen remote has remained a favorite of budget-conscious home theater shoppers everywhere. A year later when the new 2-way LCD remotes started shipping with Sony’s high-end ES line of receivers, they were expected to be a great improvement on the AV2000. Sadly, users were disappointed to find poor LCD contrast and backlighting, short battery life, no learning or macro features and weak ergonomics. It seemed as if the two design teams had never met to discuss their ideas. Although the new STR-DA777ES receiver’s enhanced remote adds some learning and macro functionality (due to strong user requests), it doesn’t address the other issues.
Even though it lacked 2-way communications, many users turned back to the AV2000. It offered quick configuration and operation, longer battery life, proper learning capabilities and three system control macros. Though still a better solution than the 2-way models, it wasn’t perfect – users were still looking for more customization options, more macro buttons, a better built-in code library and additional memory for learning codes.
...And then there were two.
Sony has addressed all of these concerns (save 2-way communications) and a whole lot more in their new RM-AV2100 (AV2100). Though little appears changed from its predecessor on the outside, there are plenty of powerful upgrades under the hood. Physically the case is identical, though color has switched from a dark graphite gray to Sony’s new metallic platinum gray, complementing the Wega television line and several other new products. It even feels a bit sturdier; the battery cover isn’t loose like it can be on the AV2000. The same number of hard buttons are available, including three dedicated macro keys, twelve component selection buttons, channel up/down, volume up/down and mute, a backlight key and a commander "off" key. Though the remote breaks the general industry standard button arrangement of channel keys on the right side of volume keys – by reversing them – I find the AV2100’s revised order is actually easier if you’re a "volume tweaker" like myself.
Battery requirements have gone from six AA’s down to a mere four, though the published life remains the same at six months. Unlike the problem-plagued 2-way remotes, the AV2000 almost always lasts a year or beyond between changes. Indeed, as of the writing of this review my AV2000 has gone for 23 months on the same batteries... with daily use! Hopefully the AV2100 will continue this tradition of power frugality. Due to the battery reduction the unit also weighs slightly less. The remote features a low-battery warning icon and claims to save settings for at least one hour without power, though my experience on the AV2000 has indicated that codes are saved for much longer.