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Elite Screens ZR800D Remote Control Review
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Elite Screens ZR800D Learning Universal Remote

Elite Screens’ first universal remote promises “total control over
your home theater system” – can it deliver on that lofty goal?

Y
ou might think that the name “Elite Screens” would tell you everything there is to know about the company in question – namely that they make projection screens. But look through their product catalogue and you’ll discover that they’re far more versatile than that, delving into other fields such as home theater seating, speakers, display wall mounts, plus accessories for the above. And it’s under that “accessories” category where we find the company’s only current product that would warrant coverage here on Remote Central – the ZR800D Learning Universal Remote.

The ZR800D is an 8-device remote that features macros, as well as both a preprogrammed code database and infrared code learning capabilities. With a small LCD screen at the top and a large number of densely packed hard buttons elsewhere, its overall design is reminiscent of earlier remotes such as the Home Theater Master SL-9000 (read our review). While Elite Screens has most likely outsourced the design and production of the base remote control, I haven’t seen anything else in the North American marketplace that looks or operates quite like this.

Normally bundled as an upsell component of their higher end motorized projection screen systems, the ZR800D by itself is a $99 USD option that can, of course, be used even if you don’t already own one of the company’s screens. Or any screen for that matter, as the only physical feature that makes this remote targeted to projection customers are several secondary button labels that could be easily ignored.

The ZR800D is sold in a standard clear plastic blister pack that displays the product prominently, but the muted graphic design does nothing to help draw attention to the remote on a crowded store shelf. The description on the back of the package may not inspire confidence when it mentions that the remote is “programmed for almost brands” (what’s an “almost brand” – those televisions at Wal-mart with names you’ve never heard of?), or when it misspells one of the component names that it claims to control. But as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover... although I’m now at least mildly concerned about the state of the manual.

Physical impressions.
Long, narrow and loaded with buttons, the ZR800D (conveniently shortened in the manual to “R800D”) measures 2.02” wide, 8.81” long and 0.93” thick (5.1cm by 20.7cm by 2.3cm). At only 5.5 ounces with batteries (154 grams) the remote is remarkably lightweight; something helped by the fact that those batteries are only made up of two AAAs (thoughtfully included). Without batteries the remote weighs 4.7 ounces (132 grams). A moderate amount of lateral case twisting is possible, but there’s no creaking and the remote feels solidly assembled. The balance point is nearly dead center.

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