More macros for your money.
Macros are used by universal remote controls to tie together a home theater system made up of diverse devices, making them operate intuitively as a single entity. For example, when you’re performing a common activity such as playing a movie, why should you have to manually power on the TV, DVD player and receiver, switch inputs, and initiate playback each and every time? Instead record those steps in a macro, and play them back with a single touch!
The RM-VL610 has 12 macros divided into two types: there are the 8 “Component Select” macros on the device keys at the top, plus the 4 “System Control” macros assigned to the buttons at the bottom of the remote.
Component Select macros are typically used to power on devices and change audio/video inputs, reducing the amount of time it takes to switch from one activity to the next. These run whenever the component button is held down for 2 seconds – when the button is pressed briefly the remote switches to the new device but doesn’t send out the macro. System Control macros, on the other hand, perform the same function regardless of which device is active. These are most often used for powering the system on and off (alas the actual [Power] button cannot be made into a macro), setting up common tasks, or storing favorite channels. Unlike Component Select macros that always end with their labeled component active, System Control buttons will finish by switching the remote to the last recorded device.
Each of these macros can hold a 16-step sequence, although that limit does include selecting components, so the number of actual commands possible will range from 8 to 16. Recording macros is easy – just press [Set] and the button to store the macro on at the same time, and then navigate the remote using the devices and commands in the order that they should be played back. Recording will end when [Set] is pressed a second time, or the macro runs out of room.
Quantity over customizability.
Although the RM-VL610 includes more macros than most budget remotes, options for these macros are few. The only way to insert a pause between two commands is, according to the manual, to press the component button again for a 0.4 second delay. This isn’t exactly useful in situations where pauses are truly needed, since a mere 5 seconds worth of delay would require 13 of the 16 available steps. The inter-command playback timing for macro steps cannot be adjusted from the default setting of “fast”. I timed a 16 step macro at roughly 4.5 seconds for completion. One feature that would be nice is the possibility of customizing the 2-second hold time requirement for component select buttons, since the default delay is a little on the long side.
If you don’t need all 12 of those macros it’s also possible to store a single learned infrared command on each macro-capable button – useful if all you want is an input command or to turn a particular device on or off. Commands learned in this way will be transmitted instantly each time the button is pressed with no hold time requirement.
Speaking of powering on devices, the RM-VL610 also includes a specialized “power on” function for most Sony equipment that, when activated, will turn on the device when the component selection button is pressed. As mentioned this only works with Sony equipment and can be combined with a Component Select macro on the same button (while learned functions on those keys cannot be combined with anything). There is no matching “power off” feature.