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Topic:
RM-AX4000 was designed by hydrocephalics
This thread has 13 replies. Displaying all posts.
Post 1 made on Monday October 10, 2005 at 20:57
azz710
Long Time Member
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Folks,

I can't tell you how high my hopes were for this remote. I paid a lot for it, it's a Sony, it's a new design and I just assumed that it would be able to do what it was presumably designed to do. Alas, I find that, for me, it appears to be nearly 100% useless.

Based upon what I'd read when researching this product, I thought that it had hundreds of products and codes in its memory and I (wishfully) assumed that the software would be versatile enough to allow downloading of new code sets when they become available from a Sony site.

Silly me. First, I am shocked to discover that when attempting to program this thing via the PC software provided, I needed to instruct it not by brand and model, which would make sense, but by that same, old, awkward remote-to-remote method I've learned to loath over the decades since I programmed my first universal remote in the early '80s. Then, when I tried to get it to recognize the codes for my TV, an old Mitsubishi, it couldn't seem to get the codes. I don't have the original remote as it failed long ago. But I do have its codes stored in an old Philips universal remote, and some of the codes in my TiVo remote, DVD/VCR remote and cable box remote.

First, it failed to read the power on signal from my Philips remote, this despite the fact that it can turn the TV on and off. Then, it failed reading the same code from my TiVo remote (also quite capable of turning the TV on and off), saying that it had received two codes. Then, when I gave-up on the wizard, I was presented with a button-to-button mode (which also didn't work) and which had a mismatched function set for my TV.

Then, after giving-up on the TV, I figured I'd try to see if the silly thing could control my TiVo. I told it I have a DVR and it asked me to record the DVR remote's power button. The trouble is that the TiVo remote doesn't have a power on/off function as the DVR is powered-off via a dialog. As the TiVo is the most common DVR on the market (hell, they defined the market), you would think that Sony would have a clue that the DVR you're programming might just be a TiVo.

I have the feeling that most functions can, indeed, be programmed via the main program, but all I could access was the wizard and, until you finish preliminary programming, you can't get out of the wizard and use the main program.

Oh, and when I went to the Sony web site to research these problems, I read a "by the way" that this piece of lovliness will not work with components made before 1989. My TV is older than that. My LD player is older than that (most are, in fact). Oh, and my DVD/VCR combo is a six-month-old Sony but, by the way, the AX4000 will not operate combo devices, even by Sony.

Can anyone come up with any reasons that I shouldn't return this product?
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Post 2 made on Tuesday October 11, 2005 at 11:40
WillGonz
Long Time Member
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11
I wouldn't count on Sony to create device profiles. However, all the data that is saved for your remote, is saved in text files. Which means it could be possible someone would write a program to download device profiles. Or perhaps they would redesign the entire program, to add what Sony didn't include.

Sadly, older technology is phased out even though it is working completely fine. This happens with computers all the time.

It is a good remote once you get it to work. I think even a different newer remote might have problems with older systems.

I have a LaserDisc Player too. I have not yet tried it with my AX4000. I hope it works.
OP | Post 3 made on Wednesday October 12, 2005 at 08:43
azz710
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Will,

Thanks so much for the reply. I do know, of course, that technology is obsoleted, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not, but I respectfully claim that this has nothing to do with what I see as the shortcomings of the Sony RM-AX4000.

Modulated infrared codes are nothing new and it is my contention that all universal remotes ought to be able to deal with all of them. I have had several universal remotes and none of them have had nearly as much trouble reading the signals of other remotes as the RM-AX4000.

For example, I have a huge, heavy universal remote, designed and built in 1985, which came with my Philips CDV-488 LaserVision player. I never found a remote which it cannot read effortlessly. It reads all remotes with equal ease, from the earliest I can find to the latest, the one which came with my digital cable box. In other words, it's backward compatible and forward compatible. And it was designed two decades ago. Sony simply has no excuse for the RM-AX4000's inability to support older devices nor its extreme difficulty to read almost any infrared signal I've tried to train it with, old or new.

While I was on hold for a half hour yesterday waiting for Sony technical support (which was, in fact, useless for the tech was not trained on the device and the only information he had at his disposal was the Adobe Acrobat version of the instruction manual, published in a difficult-to-read in Acrobat booklet format), it finally dawned on me that I could get past the Wizard roadblock and on to the main programming application by finding any remote that the RM-AX4000 could read. I tried them all and, finally, got it to read the remote of my newish Scientific Atlanta cable box. Even this was an ordeal. I discovered that each remote has an optimal separation distance. Too close and the RM-AX4000 overloads. Too far and the signal can't be read. Also, I discovered that one must play with the poorly documented signal length setting, available only in the advanced tab portion of the main application, and that the timing between when one tells the application to read the remote and actually pushing the button on the sending remote is critical. This time lag also varies, apparently, from remote to remote.

So, I got the Wizard, finally, to recognize the cable box remote and told it that I was done programming. I discovered, with great relief, that the next time I started the programming application, I was sent to the main application and was able to skip the wizard. I was then able to find a stored code for my old, 1985 Mitsubishi TV but was disappointed to discover that most of the TV's functions weren't programmed. It took me over an hour to program brightness, color saturation, hue and a few other functions.

Then, I attempted to add my TiVo. I found the stored codes for DVRs and, lo and behold, TiVo, the market leader, isn't included. So, I picked one at random and programmed my TiVo button by button, which once more took over an hour, this due again to the RM-AX4000's reluctance to read any infrared signal.

Then, I attempted to add my Sony DVD/VHS combo. I'd read a note on Sony's web site that the RM-AX4000 doesn't have support for such combos due to technical limitations. Swell. I discovered, of course, that none of the stored codes for Sony DVD players worked on mine. So, again, I picked one, to get the button layout, and programmed the whole thing. Lo and behold, though this took about an hour and a half, due to the fact that the RM-AX4000 had more trouble reading the Sony remote which came with the combo deck (just a few months old) than any other, I achieved full functionality and found that there is no reason, technical or otherwise, that Sony couldn't have included codes for this device or, for that matter, other combo units.

In the end, after hours and hours of fussing, I got the RM-AX4000 programmed. I find that its output signal is quite strong and that it is relatively easy to use, but I would still give this device my lowest rating, this due to horrendous design of both hardware (its inability to read IR signals) and software (non-obvious key combinations which must be memorized for things like setting the clock and, of course, the dreadful PC programming application).

One last thing... When you excused Sony for not attempting to support older devices, you mentioned the computer industry. Indeed, you are quite correct that the toy, I mean PC industry, makes little provision for backward or forward compatibility. This makes perfect sense as most innovation is done without planning and most standards start out de facto. But this is not the case with IBM mainframe computers. Until the recent utter collapse of the economy, I used to be an IBM mainframe Systems Programmer. I started using IBM mainframes of their current series in 1966, two years after their introduction and nine years after the monumental project to design their System 360 line began in 1957. This was the largest hardware/software project ever undertaken and the result was a design of almost unmatched elegance. Today, over four decades later, IBM is still making mainframes and software for them (though they appear to have forgotten how to market such products) and, to their great credit, despite continuous improvement of the platform, they have, for the most part, maintained compatibility. Any program I wrote back in 1966 will still run perfectly on a mainframe made today with today's operating system, which is also compatible. I'm not saying that Sony devices must be as backward compatible as multi-million dollar mainframe computers, but I am saying that they could have tried a little harder.

My faith in Sony has been severely shaken by this miserable but not inexpensive product.

Jeff Broido

On 10/11/05 11:40 ET, WillGonz said...
I wouldn't count on Sony to create device profiles.
However, all the data that is saved for your
remote, is saved in text files. Which means it
could be possible someone would write a program
to download device profiles. Or perhaps they
would redesign the entire program, to add what
Sony didn't include.

Sadly, older technology is phased out even though
it is working completely fine. This happens with
computers all the time.

It is a good remote once you get it to work.
I think even a different newer remote might have
problems with older systems.

I have a LaserDisc Player too. I have not yet
tried it with my AX4000. I hope it works.
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OP | Post 4 made on Friday October 14, 2005 at 18:49
azz710
Long Time Member
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12
Folks,

I have an update. After escalating my problem to Sony's third level, I just got a call back from the rep. telling me that the engineering team has acknowledged the problems and that, although there are not yet firmware and software updates, there will be. I'll keep you posted if I learn more.

Jeff
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Post 5 made on Friday October 14, 2005 at 21:09
joneal
Lurking Member
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October 2005
2
Looking in the file urmgui.xml, I noticed a couple of xml tags: vendor and model-name. I believe these are used by the pc software, but may not be fully implemented. Hopefully Sony will provide future updates to enable users to select a model name as an option for learning the remote codes.

You would think that Sony could at least support their own products on the remote. My multi-disc dvd player (Sony DVP-CX985V) was recognized as a DVD-R so I had to learn a majority of the remote buttons one at a time.

My receiver (Sony STR-DB1070) did a better job, but there still was some button learning to do.

Overall, the RM-AX4000 is a huge improvement over the one I had before (RM-AV3000). I hope Sony keeps improving on the software and firmware.

John
Post 6 made on Saturday October 15, 2005 at 23:17
cocokola
Lurking Member
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November 2003
8
On 10/12/05 08:43 ET, azz710 said...
| I discovered, with great relief, that the next
time I started the programming application, I
was sent to the main application and was able
to skip the wizard. I was then able to find a
stored code for my old, 1985 Mitsubishi TV but
was disappointed to discover that most of the
TV's functions weren't programmed. It took me
over an hour to program brightness, color saturation,
hue and a few other functions.

I'm stuck with programming, any help is appreciated. I used the wizard to setup my devices, however, most of the buttons are missing. I went to advanced, and tried to program buttons that are not enabled, but these options seem to be greyed out. I gave up and then tried to program the remote manually, so I hit the commander-off/muting combo, but "learning" is not a button I can push at this point.

So how did you program these other features?

Tech support is closed; I;ve already spent 2 hours trying to figure this unit out. I would have thought my 20 years experience with computers would be enough to program the codes, but apparently not.

Thanks for any help!
Post 7 made on Saturday October 15, 2005 at 23:19
cocokola
Lurking Member
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November 2003
8
one more thing, I found when you are using the software to setup each component, or when programming buttons, the focus remains such that you can use the key to quickly past the "put your remote here and press xx key". This is easier than clicking on ok when you have your other hand on the remote ready to press the next key.

Hope that makes sense.
Post 8 made on Saturday October 15, 2005 at 23:29
cocokola
Lurking Member
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November 2003
8
Posted too soon. I finally figured out that you have to select the button on the software, then click edit actions, then learn, etc.

But why can't I see learn on the remote itself? any ideas?
OP | Post 9 made on Tuesday October 18, 2005 at 08:55
azz710
Long Time Member
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October 2005
12
Dear Cocokola,

Alas, Sony gives you the buttons it wants to give you and greys-out the ones it thinks you don't need. If you need to program extra functions, you have three rows of four functions you can program and label yourself.

A hydrocephalic is a poor, unfortunate born with a reduced-sized brain and fluid filling most of the cranial cavity. I stand by the name of this thread!

Incidentally, I just discovered another "issue" with this product. I attempted to record my TiVo's "Record" button to the "Rec" button on the RM-AX4000. The program said it properly recorded the code, but when I try to use the button, nothing is sent to the TiVo (there's an amber light which blinks on the face of the TiVo when it receives a signal). After much fussing, I recorded the signal to the physical Menu button on the RM-AX4000. This works fine. I then assigned the Menu button as an alias for the Rec button, but the Rec button still doesn't work.

What were they thinking when they released this beast to manufacturing? Did no one ever test this thing?

Jeff
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Post 10 made on Tuesday October 18, 2005 at 19:33
Daniel Tonks
Wrangler of Remotes
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Re the record button - I believe the default is to have a one second hold time requirement on that button. So it will only transmit after it is held for one second or longer. I believe this is customizable.
OP | Post 11 made on Wednesday October 19, 2005 at 07:38
azz710
Long Time Member
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October 2005
12
Daniel,

Thank you so much. That, indeed, is the problem, and it also explains why the eject button doesn't work for my DVD/VHS player. I went hunting for this, first in the RX editor and then in the .pdf manual.

In the manual's appendix, I found this tiny footnote: "To avoid accidental recording, the REC key does not work unless pressed for more than 1 second (factory setting)."

Factory setting? Does that mean it's a default? I then went back to the RX editor and remembered an option that I'm ashamed to admit I ignored, the "Key-pressed time" pull down in the Edit Keys dialog. There is no context help in this oddly designed application, but a search for "key-pressed" (one must use the quotation marks and dash in the help search) reveals that this, indeed, is the option to be changed to defeat the delay.

Thanks again for pointing this out, but I stand by my original notion that this device was, in many respects, badly designed and badly supported (by the documentation, such as it is, the software and lower-level Sony technical support personnel).

Jeff


On 10/18/05 19:33 ET, Daniel Tonks said...
Re the record button - I believe the default is
to have a one second hold time requirement on
that button. So it will only transmit after it
is held for one second or longer. I believe this
is customizable.
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Post 12 made on Wednesday October 19, 2005 at 19:14
ic3nin39
Lurking Member
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October 2005
1
Ok, I just got my RM-AX4000...i wish i had read this thread before buying it. let's say that I was very dissappointed. I tried to control my TIVO..it didn't give me all of the buttons i needed. i did ran into that REC button trouble also...but i figured it out....

my problem is if sony advertises the TIVO/DVR compatibility..why not have the ir codes of TIVO standalone units built in...you go under DVR's list of IR codes....i don't see a TIVO anywhere? I had to go to a Hughes type...and it didn't give me all the buttons. This remote is useless!!!
Post 13 made on Thursday October 27, 2005 at 12:41
gamo62
Lurking Member
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October 2005
1
I agree. I'm taking this back and getting the Harmony 880. I hear it really rocks and is VERY user friendly.

G.W.
Post 14 made on Monday October 31, 2005 at 15:13
turbosquid
Long Time Member
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October 2005
13
I have this remote and it has taken me about 12 hours to get it to a decent point for 4 components including a Media Center PC. However, and this is something that the top tier of Sony Support is supposed to be calling me on is this:

When you create your express functions and it walks you through the steps and wants to learn the power and input signals from your original remotes there is an issue.

for devices such as receivers that have direct access to their inputs and really dont have a single input button on the original remote the syncup for that device will not work. Here is what happens (already tested on 3 rm-ax4000's with various brands of receivers)

1. The only way the input button in the sync-up procedure is active is if there is an input button visible on that components component screen. of course this means for receivers, putting a button on the component screen that does not exist on the factory remote.
2. although this button exists in syncup now, and is active it does not send the input to the receiver for whatever activity you are trying to sync-up (ie DVD input)
3. Wonder why since it just shows an input button on the sync-up page it is not taking on the funciton of the input button for that activity, you just taught it that input while creating the xpress function. Instead it takes whatever is programmed to "input" on the component screen, and remember that button does not even exist on the factory remote, the only way I got it onto the screen is to give it a bogus code from some random remote..

for devices that have a singal input button to cycle through inputs they syncup works fine, but for those devices that have direct access to their inputs via many buttons it does not. further the syncup screen for those types of devices should show the actual button for the input you are trying to sync instead of the "input" button..

any comments?

d
Turbosquid, Geek


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