Of course, if you've lost one of your original remotes you'll need something with a preprogrammed database to replace it. As can be deduced by the rather typical range of button labels itemized earlier, this remote only includes basic functions. It is capable of controlling more than what's printed on the label, for example DVD players include commands for Subtitle, Audio, Title and Clear, while televisions have various PIP options assigned to the transport controls. But there are few functions that couldn't be considered absolutely standard - and in some cases even common ones might be missing. There's also no "advanced code" capability.
The Achilles' heel of Sony's preprogrammed databases in the past has been that they're generally less complete than others: there are fewer brands covered and often less commands per brand than certain other lines of remotes. But tangible improvements can finally be seen! For example, the RM-V402's DVD category had 21 brands with 49 codes, while the RM-V310 now has 35 brands with 80 codes.
I should note, however, that the RM-V310's database is significantly smaller and less robust than the RM-VL600 when it comes to certain higher-end components such as audio receivers and DVRs - so if you have non-mainstream equipment you may have better success with that model.
If your component brands are incorporated, there are a number of perfect applications for this remote control.
First, it's an absolutely perfect quick replacement for any lost remote where only basic functionality is required. Second, it makes a stylish and practical replacement for any horrible factory original remote - and some devices really do ship with dreadful remotes that you wouldn't want to use on a daily basis. Third, it's a great family remote, with an above-average level of functionality, easy-to-hit buttons, simple operation and - even more importantly - it's extremely economical and thus could be sacrificed to save a more expensive clicker.
Fourth, it's ideal for bedroom, kitchen or secondary entertainment systems, where ultimate control, macros and button customization may not be a priority. Practically every function used on a daily basis is available, so just point and click.
As expected, remote operation is quick and simple - pick your device and start pushing buttons. In terms of key placement, I particularly liked the oversized volume and channel buttons and how they fell right under my thumb. The new 5-way menu cursor is a definite improvement over the old design, although after some use the top of it is just a little too close to the [Mute] and [Recall] buttons - more space is provided on the RM-VL600.
No matter how much attention has been paid to the ergonomic qualities of a remote, one of the major factors in how usable and responsive a product can be boils down to a simple question, how strong is the infrared emitter. And that's a question we can answer!
Unfortunately, recent relocation of items in my regular infrared testing lab means that my staple benchmark cannot be completed at this time - and so I've had to improvise, turning our regular Menacing Thick Fluffy Blanket (MTFB) into the Menacing Thick Flannel Cloth (MTFC). More details on this change, what it means and how it compares to old MTFB results, can be read in our RM-VL600 review.