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The procedure of programming a macro brings up an excellent feature of the Guide Remote: help screens. During setup before every major operation, the remote displays clear, informative instructions on what the next function does and how to customize it. There's even a complete built-in help system that can be accessed at any time to explain what various setup options will do, what each hard button is used for and much more. To top it off, the Guide Remote includes a remote tour that describes all major features! This is an incredibly thoughtful addition that almost completely negates the need for a paper bound manual - which incidentally the RD5000M does come with, a clearly laid out and truly informative 82 page manual at that. The manual is also included in electronic format on the bundled CD.
The well organized, logical nested setup menus on the RD5000M are much improved over the original RD5000, where options were arranged almost haphazardly. The [Menu] button displays four choices: device setup, guide setup, view settings and support. Each leads to further menus of options. Everything (except macro programming) is positioned exactly where I would expect it to be.
The final device-specific customization options include "channel lock" and "volume lock". These both allow part of one device's functions to be "punched through" to another. For instance, if you always use your amplifier to control the volume, you'd punch it's volume controls through to every other device. Both of these settings are configured individually on a device-by-device basis. Of interest, the Guide Remote can display the specifics for each configured device - what code number is being used, what the volume and channel locks are configured to, and even what version of the IR database is being used.
A forest of fluff.
Speaking of IR, it's time once again for our oft ignored but amazingly accurate Menacing Thick Fluffy Blanket (MTFB) test! This is where we drive remotes to prove just how good their infrared emitters can be, in a polyester packed program of peril. We now turn our attention to the Guide Remote which sports two emitters, one wide angle and one narrow focus. This combination should theoretically provide the best of both worlds - both far-reaching strength and wide dispersion. So, just how well do they perform?
Starting off at a mere single layer of man-made fluffiness, the Guide Remote performed flawlessly - as we have come to expect. Level two once again posed no challenge, with all commands transmitting right through. Level three - three layers of thick, fluffy blanket - also turned out to be a cakewalk, with no noticeable degradation in signal reliability. But, much like the single straw the broke the camel's back, level four proved more than the Guide Remote could handle as it was unable to push even a single command through. The final score of 3.0 is considered average, but better than most factory-original remotes.
The guide is where it's at...
Controlling a home theater with the Guide Remote can be considered tedious at best. Even with such attempts at improving operational ergonomics as the Quick Grid and the ability to modify the full list of codes, the Guide Remote does not lend itself to total system control. But if you consider the RD5000M as a complement to a capable universal remote - with incidental system control built-in - you won't be disappointed.
This is called the "Guide Remote", and providing an on-screen program guide is what it does best.