Most remote controls are instantly recognizable: long, narrow plastic wands, sprinkled liberally with rainbow-colored buttons. Yet even in this world of cookie cutter controls where the majority look and operate the same, a few products manage to stand out as unique, advanced for their time. Take, for instance, the Sony RM-AV2000. Although this action-movie-sized remote only appeared in North America at the end of December 1997, it in fact came out several years earlier in Japan as the RM-AV1000. Of course, it's not news that Japan receives advanced electronics far earlier than anywhere else on the world - but the real surprise is that the sophisticated RM-AV1000 didn't catch on.
Perhaps it was before its time: touchscreen remotes weren't exactly common fare. Or maybe it was the large size: smaller is typically better. Or, could it have been simply that remote controls, especially super-powerful ones, just weren't needed when you could merely reach out from the sofa and flick the channel on the TV. Whatever the cause, Sony wisely preserved the remote in their design vault for another time, another place.
Several years later, the RM-AV2000 (see our review) did prove that it could do well in the right market. Pleased with their success, Sony responded to consumers and fixed almost every functional foible, releasing the enhanced RM-AV2100 in 2000 (again, see our review). Although it still appeared to be the same remote on the outside, the RM-AV2100 had been quietly beefed up under the hood.
Once again, several years have passed and Sony has prepared a third update to their premium series of remote controls. Realizing that competition is infinitely fiercer today than it was several years ago, the occasion called for more dramatic changes. So, for the first time since creating the RM-AV1000, Sony has completely retooled their top-of-the-line remote control and crafted a product truly designed for the 21st century.
The end result is the $199 USD MSRP Sony RM-AV3000. Its heritage is certainly apparent in stature and structure, but Sony has taken styling in an entirely new direction.
Modern Conservative Chic
The RM-AV3000's styling makes it impossible for me to try and pin its appearance down to any particular cultural design influence. The "not-quite-modern, not-quite-retro" styling is an enigma unto itself that gives the initial impression of being understated. Yet surprisingly, the longer I spent with it the more I found the RM-AV3000's new "sleek boxy" design to be a refreshing update from the RM-AV2100's merely "boxy" format.
Situated halfway between a handheld and tabletop control, the RM-AV3000 manages to embrace both roles well. Its footprint is exactly the same as the RM-AV2100 at 4.7" wide by 6.8" long (12.0cm by 17.3cm), but it's significantly thinner. Although both the RM-AV2100 and RM-AV3000 taper at an angle from the front towards the back, the RM-AV3000 starts off with a sharp downwards angle for the LCD screen, then levels off at the bottom hard buttons.
To compare, the RM-AV2100 begins at 1.9" thick on the front edge, measures 1.4" at the mid-point, then tapers down to 1.1" at the bottom (4.8cm, 3.6cm and 2.8cm). The new RM-AV3000 starts off at just 1.5" thick, angles down to 1.0" at the mid-point, then finishes off at 0.9" at the bottom (3.8cm, 2.6cm, 2.3cm). The base doesn't taper inwards quite as far at the front and back as it did on the RM-AV2100, but does reduce the remote's width from 4.7" on the control surface to a more comfortable 3.2" (8.2cm) where it's held.