You’ve seen them in big box electronic stores and in the “audio video” area of discount retailers. You may have even seen them in the impulse purchase section of your favorite grocery store. They’re those inexpensive preprogrammed universal remotes, hermetically sealed in clear plastic and stacked ten deep on wire pegs. Popular brand names in big type emblazon the packages: GE, One For All, Philips/Magnavox, Radio Shack, RCA, Sony, Zenith and more. Most are priced under $20 – a seemingly unbeatable bargain in the struggle against remote control clutter.
For the typical “prosumer” reader of Remote Central, the thought of living with one of these plain non-customizable remotes is, well, unthinkable. But for even larger numbers of consumers, the thought of spending $400, $100, or even $50 on a universal remote control is equally as inconceivable. Although this site strives to show you how buying a fully customizable remote within (and maybe even slightly above) your budget constraints is money well spent, individual needs nonetheless differ. Companies continue to sell hundreds of thousands of these low-cost clickers, so the market certainly isn’t declining.
They’re ubiquitous, inexpensive and sell big time. So how well do they stack up compared to the big boys?
A shrinking market – of manufacturers.
Although the impressive list of brands above would lead you to believe that there’s a burgeoning industry in low-end universal remotes, retail prices continue to drop alongside profit margins. Most major electronics firms have stopped developing universal remotes, opting to farm out design and production to one of several large OEM companies.
Sony, on the other hand, is one of a few major electronics companies still developing their own line of universal remotes. Even though this doesn’t necessarily mean that Sony’s $15 remote is better then Brand X’s $15 remote, it does mean that Sony’s models have a unique feel, layout and setup procedures. In this case, it really is a Sony.
The latest array of Sony preprogrammed remote controls is comprised of four models: The $20 7-device RM-V402, the $15 5-device RM-V302, the $10 4-device RM-V202, and the $10 2-device RM-EZ2. Although the first three models are essentially identical and will thus be described as the RM-V402, the RM-EZ2 is unique and will be covered separately near the end of the review.
The Sony RM-V402, RM-V302 and RM-V202 all share the same layout and physical properties. From a design standpoint, the RM-V402 is rather respectable for a remote in its price range, with a good blend of ergonomic features that make the remote surprisingly comfortable to hold.