The remote's code list is quite extensive, covering many obscure brands, and I was particularly impressed by some of the higher-end labels listed under the flat panel section. The remote is capable of operating 8 different devices, and codes are entered in a way that no manual reassignment of component types is necessary - if you want to run a DVD player on the [Sat] button, simply enter a DVD code on that button. The only device button that cannot be reassigned is [TV].
Codes for the codeless.
If you don't feel like plodding through the expansive code list, the remote also has several code search methods. First is a search through every code for that type of device - accessed by simply pressing the [Channel Up], [Power] or [Play] key instead of entering a number in the above steps. [Channel Down] can be used to backtrack through the database and the current code is saved by pressing [Mute]. Although the remote does not make you alternate between two buttons (one to advance the code and another to test), it also doesn't allow you to automate the process by merely holding the key down and instead requires repeated presses at a rate of no more than two every second.
Since there are literally hundreds of codes to go through, the remote offers an additional search option: a quasi by-brand mode. With this method you begin by entering a digit that corresponds to a table of major brand names and component types located in the manual. For example, if you were searching for a Hitachi TV you'd start by entering the digit "5" and then proceed with [Channel Up] or [Power]. This number doesn't actually correspond to the beginning of the code numbers for that brand - Hitachi TV codes start with various numbers - but instead directs the remote to an internal reference table.
It turns out there's no way to search through the entire database in one fell swoop - in fact, before using either of these search methods it's important to tell the remote what basic type of device that component button will be used for by initially entering any preprogrammed code from that category in the booklet. Otherwise, if the button was previously configured for a satellite receiver, it won't transmit DVD or VCR codes during a search. Still, I found the code classification somewhat inaccurate: while searching for a satellite code it ended up transmitting a cable box and antenna rotor command, and while looking for a DVD player it transmitted TV and receiver functions.
Since there is no explanation in the manual on this, it's difficult to discern whether the classification for some codes is just slightly "off", or if DVD, TV and receiver codes are all considered part of the same group - the point being that it would be nice to know exactly what's required to search through each and every code in the database to find potential matches for oddball devices.
The PHDVR8 managed to find at least basic functionality in its database for most of my devices, but missed out on a DVR and DSS receiver despite claiming support for those specific brands. And so, when the going gets tough, the tough start learning. Through code learning, the remote is able to control devices or operate functions that its built-in database doesn't already know about - essentially making it future proof.