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Just ordered one, 1st Impressions (REVIEW)
This thread has 12 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Wednesday June 15, 2005 at 12:35
conley_jb
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I just ordered my 9800i and I thought it might be helpful for folks to hear what a general consumer and HT novice thinks about it. Once it comes in I will update this posting, but I thought I’d start with a little bit on my background.

I don’t consider myself a tech expert, although I am what friends and family might call tech savvy. I consider myself above an above average consumer. I generally rely on the expertise of the magazine writers and industry types who see all of these products on a daily basis to do my research. Lately however as my taste have changed and I have moved into the territory of higher end equipment, I have looked more to the thoughts and opinions of regular everyday consumers who live with these products day in and day out. Especially since very few of the products I want or need can be had locally. There is only so much BestBuy or Circuit City carry. It is my hope that by reviewing this product myself I can help someone else who is on the fence as to whether or not make the same decisions I did.

Remote Experience
As most people, my experience with remote controls has been overwhelming, but at the same time limited. After moving into a new home, my living room/ theater end-table is a collection of various little plastic sticks with buttons on them. Last count there were 7 different remotes. Something that both my wife and I agree on is there had to be a better way. It was time to go Universal.
Over the last couple of years I have used both the Harmony and Pronto series remotes. I loved my Pronto TSU 3000, and the 1000 before that. Both had custom made menus I created using a variety of image and layouts from this website. My decision to buy a Harmony brand remote came when I moved in with my wife, (then fiancée) about a year ago and at the same time built my first HTPC running Windows MCE. At that time I was either to lazy, or simply to tired of moving to reprogram my Pronto with this new device and the other devices that went along with the union of two house holds. With the Harmony, I just plugged the remote into my laptop, got on Logitecs website and wham, was done. I must admit however that even though the Harmony worked, I still found myself reaching for that TV remote to make fine adjustments, or the DVD remote to access special player features; over all however I was happy.
Fast forward a year and you find my new bride and I in a new home. After two months of unpacking, and Home Theater upgrading (or downsizing as I call it), I finally got around to reprogramming my remotes. After about an hour working with the Pronto I realized that the old black and white screen didn’t seem to cut it. Also, I was having a hard time getting it to control my media server. I next moved onto the Harmony, but during a routine Bios update, the remote locked up and I haven’t been able to get it to work. After a couple of days of research and several more of negotiation (it isn’t easy to convince the wife she needs a $500 remote control) I ordered my 9800i, what I hope will be the last remote I buy for a while. We will see……

Current System Specs
My Current Home Theater and equipment that I am hoping the 9800i will control is as follows.
•Display: Mitsubishi model#52727 – 52-inch DLP television
•Receiver: Harman Kardon AVR-525 – 7.1 Surround Receiver
•Speakers: Monitor Audio Radius 180 L/C/R & Radius 90 Side Surround, B&W Ceiling in Rear
•Source1: DirecTV HR-10 HD Sat Receiver
•Source2: Samsung DVD – HD941 Upconverted DVD player
•Source3: Parasound CD/P1000 – CD Transport
•Source4: Pinnacle Showcenter 200 – Media Streaming Device
•Source5: Polk Audio XM Satellite Receiver
•Source5: Microsoft Xbox
•Additional devices: Harman AB-1 ABUS Volume/ Multi-Room remote eyes throughout house. Multi- room Audio via A-Bus and standard speaker wires.

Expectations
My expectations for this device are probably a little too high. I have been disappointed in the past with similar products but hope this one will be different. If this device can allow me to control all my devices in my A/V cabinet, as well as change inputs on my TV which is necessary for some of my sources, and again access files on my Server PC and play them through the ShowCenter I will be a happy camper. I also am hoping that setup will go smoothly, eventhough I did enjoy setting up and design my custom menus on the Pronto, I have sort of outgrown this experience and will be happy with just being able to control everything from one box. Oh, and did I mention, “wife friendly”. If my wife can come into the room, pick it up and watch TV at least without me… that is a major plus…. Or is it? 

Closing
I am expecting to receive my 9800 any day now. As I start to setup my system for her I will post my thoughts on the process and the easy of using the device. I am hoping that it won’t only allow me to control my “legacy” devices, but give me new abilities and functions related to my Media Server and the Pinnacle Showcenter, which is supposedly UPnP compatible. Over the next few days as I wait for it to arrive, I will be setting up my WiFi Router in anticipation for the 9800. Even though I have a hardwired network in this house, the concept of utilizing a remote over WiFi is intriguing, intriguing enough to dust off my wireless network.

I will repost additional information later….
There's no such things as a quality Hometheater for under $1000.
Post 2 made on Saturday June 18, 2005 at 12:22
Surf Remote
Loyal Member
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July 2001
5,958
Looking forward to your thoughts. I don't see it replacing a TSU7000 or MX-3000, but it's got some nice capabilities at the price.

Mike
www.SurfRemoteControl.com
www.SurfRemoteControl.com

THX-certified video calibrator and contributing writer, ProjectorReviews.com
Post 3 made on Sunday June 26, 2005 at 18:10
ajglass
Lurking Member
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4
My first impressions are quite favorable. With some tweaking, I believe I am going to able to retire my Pronto TSU 6000, since nearly all of its functions can be duplicated on a much more integrated basis with the RC9800i. Bottom line: I believe my tech-averse spouse is going to be able to use the remote.

Several as yet unsolved issues remain. Among them:

1. How to program the Sony TA-E9000ESG's (which the Philips takes to be a "home theater") extensive audio control choices.

2. How to rename up to eight user selected keys to something more meaningful.

The fact that the software is upgradable is a key feature. For example, a future release could well solve the user function naming issue.
- Andy
OP | Post 4 made on Monday June 27, 2005 at 11:51
conley_jb
Long Time Member
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Well, after living with the Phillips 9800i for about a week I have a few accolades and complaints to make. I will go into a more detailed analysis after I have used it for a bit longer but for the most part I am happy with my decision to upgrade from the TSU-3000, and yes after using the device I do still consider it an upgrade.
As stated in the manual and all the press material this little device is pretty easy to setup. Even though I took my time and did my programming in between other weekend projects, I estimate I spent maybe 4 hours total setting it up over a three day period. The one part I have not gotten configured is the Electronic Program Guide, and this is more due to problems with my wireless network than anything else. My unit came with about a 75% battery charge which made setup much easier…. No waiting for it to charge. Also, I was impressed with the Phillips in the fact that it allowed me to start the programming one afternoon, and finish up the next day. I expected to loose all my settings by having to stop in the middle of the setup without the ability to save, but this wasn’t the case.
The only real problem I had was the remote not recognizing two of my devices. It would not find a remote code for my DirecTv HR-10 HD Sat receiver, or my Polk Audio XM-Radio receiver. I remedied this by using the direct remote to remote learning feature which we are all familiar with for your everyday garden variety “programmable remotes”. I attribute the 9800i’s inability to recognize these devices more with their newness than anything else. The 9800i had no problems recognizing the “basic” features of my Harman AVR-525 Receiver, although I did have to go back in and teach it some additional buttons. I do wish that you could re-label some of these buttons, or delete others. The remote has a rather generic screen layout, one for A/V Receiver, one for DVD, one for CD, etc. . The only buttons which I have found you can put custom names to are the input buttons used to switch sources. A good example of not being able to re-label, or have customizable buttons is the Multi-room feature of the AVR-525…. I had to us a generic button to activate this, and there is no way to move this button to a different screen which is more frequently used. So if I want to cut on speakers in additional rooms in the house, I have to page through to the last page of the AVR-525 and use this “user program” button. I want to try and create a custome device and call it Whole House Audio and see if I can create macros to cut on my XM Receiver, my mainroom system, as well as my multiroom amplifers. I'll keep you posted on this...
Overall I am happy with this product, I think like most that migrate from the Pronto series, especially those of us who did our own programming and made customized screens, will miss some of those features. The one thing my wife picked up on right away is the 9800i’s inability to program channel buttons, i.e. a single button for HBO, or HGTV, etc. If one really wanted to do this, I imagine you could use one of the programmable buttons; however there are only 6 or so of these custom programmable buttons for each device.
As I stated before the one feature that I am most excited about, is the one I have not been able to test. The EPG (Electronic Program Guide) sounds like a great options, but until I get my WiFi network back up I am stuck without it. As I finish configuring the remaining components in my system I will update my overview. After I have gotten the EPG up and running and had the chance to really live with the product I will post the long winded version. In a nutshell, I like this product. I wish it had a little bit of the Prontos customability, even if it was limited to what you could do on the remote. The ability to rename the 6 or so custom feature buttons and maybe a database of icons to use with macros would be nice. All and all…. I’d give this product 8 out of 10. If Phillips were to move this form factor to the Pronto series (I love the physical aspects of this remote) I think they would have a winner. Can anyone say, iPronto Junior? Oh and Phillips, if you need a Beta tester, give me a call.
There's no such things as a quality Hometheater for under $1000.
Post 5 made on Monday June 27, 2005 at 19:56
rmalbers
Founding Member
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October 2001
746
Thanks for the feedback on this. One thing that was said in the other forum is that you can relabel those custom buttons but I don't know how. I was going to go back to the doc and see how but haven't done that yet. I'm curious about the EPG, that would be one reason I would get it. I'm also worried about the "Free EPG for one year" statement. I do not want to pay a monthly fee for the EPG after the first year is up.
Post 6 made on Monday June 27, 2005 at 23:54
ajglass
Lurking Member
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June 2005
4
The manual lacks any guidance on how to rename the eight user function buttons. I think this is something to ask for in a later software release.

The EPG makes the whole thing worthwhile for me. I download two sets - DTV and Cable (including locals) and it works flawlessly. The downloads occur automatically whilst you are normally asleep.

On some remotes, I've found it's best to skip all the codesets, go to custom and start from scratch.. It's usually far from a perfect match, but you can still do a lot (e.g.) add an antenna rotor to the TV monitor.

The integration of certain related services is better than on the Prontos, which require elaborate macros to get such jobs done.
- Andy
Post 7 made on Wednesday June 29, 2005 at 18:32
rmalbers
Founding Member
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746
Ok, so it sounds like you could add X10 light control via that method. That's good news for me anyway.
Post 8 made on Thursday July 21, 2005 at 21:10
lafactory.com
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On 06/27/05 19:56 ET, rmalbers said...
Thanks for the feedback on this. One thing that
was said in the other forum is that you can relabel
those custom buttons but I don't know how. I
was going to go back to the doc and see how but
haven't done that yet. I'm curious about the
EPG, that would be one reason I would get it.
I'm also worried about the "Free EPG for one year"
statement. I do not want to pay a monthly fee
for the EPG after the first year is up.

the epg is a killer feature, even if some channels are obsolete and some other do not exist. I registered and you have 3 years, not 1 as stated in the doc.
OP | Post 9 made on Monday August 15, 2005 at 15:21
conley_jb
Long Time Member
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June 2005
22
It has been a while since I have contributed to my own posting, so I thought it was time to update things after using my 9800i for a couple of months.
Over all I am very pleased with the device, it is fairly simply to use and it seems to control all of my devices as advertised. I still find myself reaching for the television remote or Directv remote when I need to adjust settings on these devices (i.e. color adjustments, brightness, etc). Overall my favorite feature is out easy it was to setup... I do miss my Pronto some days, but even though I don't use it the EPG feature along is worth the cool factor. Speaking of the EPG, it is nice to have and I can see it being really useful if there was only a way to speed it up. It is still easier to hit the guide button and have the Directv EPG comeup on the TV than use the 9800i's guide.
A few things that I was not able to do initially with this device I eventually was able to setup using the programmable buttons (which I still haven't figured out how to relabel as Philips claims you can). The first was the multi-room activation... I have a separate amplifier and an ABUS adapter connected to my Harman receiver, after some fiddling I was able to cut on the separate amplifier from my remote, there are lots of steps involved to get there but it works. The second issue I had that was resolved, was on my Harman being able to change surround modes, adjusting between the different Dolby and proprietary settings. I also added a button and this worked. My biggest complaint about the device is what I eluded to above is the fact that in order to make system adjustments or change screens you have to jump through tons of screens… a direct access to “other components” while watching Sat, or DVD, etc would be useful.
The biggest disappointment was that I have yet to be able to get the MediaServer software to work, maybe I misread the capabilities or had to high of expectations, but I can not access media content through my Showcenter 200HD like I had hoped, it is suppose to be a UPnP device, but all I can do is access my files (audio only) on my server and they play on the 9800i… I don’t really see a use for listening to MP3’s on this thiiing, it sounds aweful. I thought you could access files on your server and based on the file type it would activate a device in your theater and play it if you had a UPnP in you system… for example, my Showcenter 200 can access my DVD’s on my PC hard drive, I had hoped I could access that list or those movies on the server and by clicking the movie have them play through the Showcenter, but to date I have not been able to get this feature to work. It would be nice to be able to pull up a file and like you do with the EPG, when you press on it, it plays.
The biggest factor for me with this remote was whether or not my wife could use it… that test turned out to be tougher than I had thought. My wife has been able to use the remote to cut things on, but we have found that the IR transmitters isn’t as powerful, as it should be or something. Because of the delay the remote built in for our DLP TV to warm up, if the remote is not left in a particular place the sequence (cut on TV, cut on A/V receiver then Sat receiver) will get messed up. If things don’t happen just right, than it creates a problem…. This in addition to changing more complex settings, my wife has had problems with. Either a stronger IR transmitter, one with greater range and angle or the ability to ad RF as has been discussed would make things easier. I have yet to try something like an IR Hotshot or IR receiver with stick-on IR Mouses to see if this helps.
Overall I am pleased with this product, for the money it will serve the masses very well, however at a retail cost of over $500 I really don’t see the masses embracing this product. If I were Philips I would wake-up and realize that their primary customer base; those individuals who shop at Bestbuy and the big chain stores and want movie theater quality picture and sound for under $1000, won’t be the ones buying this product. I can only hope for slightly more customization and flexibility in the next firmware releases.

My Wishlist:
•Better integration of various UPnP devices, i.e. Pinnacle Showcenter, etc
•Ability to switch between devices without having to jump through multiply menus
•Ability to access the EPG, while on the same screen as the device you are controlling
•Ability to re-label, and reposition buttons
•Richer colors on the color display – color is great, but are sort of dull (16m upgrade)
•Upgrade IR capability (improve range and angle of attack
•Upgrade or add an RF adapter
•Better manual as to features and how to use them
•Faster EPG access
•Place to mount or store the stylus
•Easier way to go back and change settings once you have setup the device… I have had to adjust the timing on the sequences for “watch Sat”, “watch DVD” three times, and each time it is a pain. Why can’t they us seconds instead if MS.
There's no such things as a quality Hometheater for under $1000.
Post 10 made on Wednesday August 17, 2005 at 09:02
ltan
Lurking Member
Joined:
Posts:
August 2003
2
Is the charging adapter universal voltages, i.e. 100-240v or just US 110v. I am keen to order from the internet since it will not be here in Asia anytime soon.

Thank in advance.
Post 11 made on Thursday August 18, 2005 at 02:16
Luukske
Long Time Member
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49
Hi Itan,

The power adapter is useable for 100-240V, 50/60Hz.
Post 12 made on Friday September 23, 2005 at 11:58
mc33
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September 2005
1
Were you able to get the RC9800i to recognize your ShowCenter 200 as a device? Although I don't have a lot of time in to the setup so far, I have not found the ShowCenter 200 in any 'add device' lists and have not had a ton of luck in teaching the RC9800i the ShowCenter 200 remote codes/controls through a custom device setup. Manual teach and learn has not worked too well so far as I have to teach the buttons multiple times in many cases.

I am able to preview photos on my PC when the Philips Media software is running, but similar to what you mentioned, while I can see other content on my PC through listings for Pinnacle's Media Manager and through a listing via Windows Media Connect for the PC on the RC9800i (hit browse and I see listings for WMC - my PC, PMM - my PC, PMC - my PC), I have yet to be able to get the remote to display pictures or play music from this screen to the ShowCenter, which I believe is the point of this feature and having UPnP devices. My understanding was that you could select your photos, music, whatever from the remote and then pass them along to the ShowCenter as the display/output. I'm still working on it, but my frustration right now is more with getting the RC9800i to properly control the ShowCenter as a device, just like any other device. If you could let me know if/how you got your RC9800i to control the ShowCenter 200, I would appreciate it. Thanks.
OP | Post 13 made on Monday December 19, 2005 at 10:21
conley_jb
Long Time Member
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UPDATE:
To answer MC33's question, I was unable to get it working, or find any codes to get the 9800 to operate my Showcenter. Based on that, the fact that my wife really missed the ability to have seperate icons for individual channels, along with the other abilities I had with my Pronto. I have decided, that the 9800 is a great looking remote with a physical form-factor that I liked, but in comparing it to a Pronto, or the Marantz color touch-screens it just isn't as powerful. Thus I have sold my 9800 and bought a used Marantz 9500.
For anyone looking at the 9800, I would highly recommend it as an alternative to the Logitech remotes, or the Sony touchscreens. Especially if you want a quick and easy set-up, however if anyone is looking to switch from a Pronto, make sure you understand this devices limitations. I thought the EPG would make up for the lack of programability and customibility and the fact that I could setup my entire theater in less than an hour, instead of the days it takes to do a custom theme in a Pronto wuld be worth it. In my case it was not, but in others it may be. I do not want to poo-poo what is obviously a great product and will do wonders with getting touch-screen remotes into the hands of many hometheater owners. I only recommend that before you drop $500 for it, look at the option of a used ProntoPro, or similar. If you have the patience to program them, they are far superior.
There's no such things as a quality Hometheater for under $1000.


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