Okay, I've used the heck out of this piece of equipment for a full day. Here's my assessment:
WHY DID I BUY?
The main reason I was attracted to this remote was BECAUSE of my wife (God bless her). Every man's dream to have a wife that actually tells you to buy a $500.00 remote. It was a desperate plea by her (And myself) to finally get rid of the 10 remotes we have throughout the house and incorporate everything in one remote (effectively). Translation? I needed an idiot proof remote system so my beautiful wife can do something as simple as watch a DVD, HiDef, Replay TV, CD,,, whatever - utilizing the $15,000.00 media system I invested in without her having to earn an engineering degree turning on components and navigating through each required input setting to do what she wants to do. My system consists of various components featuring Harmon Kardon, Sony, Mitsubishi, Pioneer Elite, etc.
Enter the Philips RC9800i:
Let's remove the conversation I had with the sales person raving about this model. He knew his craft, but this was a fairly new model and after getting home, unpacking, reviewing, reading the manual cover to cover (twice), smelling it, tasting it, touching it, and basically looking up it's skirt,,, well, he needed a little more study time with the RC9800i.
As far as ease of programming I'll give it a thumbs up. Philips obviously took pains to make the set up process as automatic as possible. After upgrading the Firmware to ver., 1.9.64, I began my 4 hour set up process, which I was actually looking forward to, as I'm an electronics junkie like all of you, too. I had to reformat once to start from scratch as it just didn't do what I needed this thing to do - which was, basically, work properly. There is no option for reformatting, so I remedied that by simply reinstalling the firmware, just make sure you shut the remote down from the back, restart it and immediately depress the “page” and “home” keys simultaneously until the firmware upgrade screen appears then run the firmware upgrade from your PC with the USB connected to the remote. You'll have a clean slate after that.
Don’t let anyone tell you that this model does not create macros, it does,,, however, the user cannot create them, it’s done by the remote during setup, and when set up is complete they cannot be customized, i.e. adding or deleting buttons to accommodate specific component options required for each individual system. If I want to watch a DVD and I press the macro button, my TV turns off, my A/V system turns on, the DVD player turns on and the Input goes somewhere else. This is extremely frustrating as all I really need is access to the macro so I can make one or two changes to the commands. All I can do is delete the component and start from scratch and hope it gets it right.
COMPONENT DATA BASE:
The component data base was incredible. I think every possible brand and model of video and audio electronics was available to choose from. Although I had to enter the model numbers of each component it was a snap with the keyboard that pops up and it was very user friendly. The remote also was able to learn just about every discrete code of every remote I had. Unfortunately, I didn’t see half of them once set up was complete. You look at a remote and everything is right there in your face but you may not need to use all of the options on it, on the RC9800i, you’ll have to scroll through 1 to 6 pages to get to them and the buttons I needed were no where to be found, so I was right back to using the remote that came with my component. Thus far, I have been unsuccessful at locating the button the remote learned so I can put them where I want them on the remote and eliminate the component's remote altogether.
Installing the Philips Media Manager was as simple as it gets. Only the software is for exactly that, managing the media files on your computer so you can access it through a wireless network,,, which I do not have in my home – Yet. I was anticipating that I would be able to do, at least, some of the remote setup on my PC and upload it to my remote, but this is not the case. Additionally, I’m running Microsoft Windows XP home edition. I have many peripherals that use the USB port and never have I had a problem with the USB port identifying hardware until I connected this remote to my PC. The result is as you would expect. Aside from getting lucky with regard to upgrading the firmware, I can do nothing else as the remote is simply not recognized so I can’t down load the electronic Program Guide to the remote system, nor have I been successful at finding a driver to identify the hardware connected to it.
A slight disappointment was when the store associate told me I’d be able to down load macros and customized button schemes to accommodate my preference, but this was not the case with this remote, I’m sorry to say. Additionally, there are very limited options with regard to High Definition compatibility. For example; in setup I was tasked by the remote to choose what components were needed to listen to a CD, what needs to be on, and what inputs needed to be switched, etc…, in another I was tasked to do the same for watching TV, and another task for watching a DVD, for Replay TV, for VCR, but nothing was asked about what I needed to do to watch High Definition. So after setup was completed I find three identical CD macro icons, three identical DVD macro icons and one PVR macro icon at the bottom of my touch screen, I need to open each one to see what macros they are, there was nothing for High Definition play AND I have no way of accessing what setup did to customize as I need to. So after I asked my wife to take the shells out of the shotgun she was loading, I am still not enjoying my remote and will more than likely return it for a remote that will do what I need it to.
Seems like they’re still working some major bugs out of this remote. I’ll tell you this, when they do – This is going to be an incredible remote to own. All Philips needs to do to make this, quite literally, the mother of all remotes is allow a bit more user access to remote sectors and partitions. Customizing MUST be an option for even the novice user. I loved the design and the sleek look. It was a selling point for me. The touch screen I also like a lot and they even provide you with a stylus, but the really funny part about the stylus is they gave you nowhere to put it except in the one place you probably won’t look when you need it. Yes, the stylus is just waiting to get lost.
This evaluation in now way claims I am completely correct and accurate on the limitations or functions of this piece of equipment. Only Philips technicians can accurately confirm the capabilities or limitations of the Philips RC9800i. This just what I have discovered through 24 hours of setup and use. If there is ANYONE that can assist me with some of the problems outlined in this thread I would greatly appreciate it.