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From sculpted to chiselled.
When early photographs of the RM-VL710 were released, my initial impressions were mixed. Indeed, photos of this unit tend to be less than flattering, since the wide range of button sizes can make scale difficult to determine, while the sharp angles bring back possibly unpleasant memories of 1980’s electronics. Physically the RM-VL710 is rather square and angular, however its footprint is significantly smaller than the RM-VL900, roughly the same as the compact RM-VL700. The RM-VL710 has maximum dimensions of 2.5” wide, 7.6” long and 1.1” thick (6.4cm by 19.4cm by 2.9cm). Due to its trapezoidal shape it tapers to only 2.1” wide (5.4cm) at the bottom and 0.8” thick (2.0cm) at the top.
Unlike the shapely RM-VL700, the RM-VL710’s lines are very straight with few sweeping curves. The bottom of the remote does have a slight bow to it, but everything else including the control surface is flat. There are plenty of upsides to the new design, such as fantastic construction quality that easily surpasses that of the previous RM-VL700. It uses thicker plastic and feels appropriately solid, all the while remaining unexpectedly light in weight. It’s also quite svelte, far thinner than either previous model, while all corners are softly rounded or bevelled and feel pleasingly smooth in hand.
I’ve commented in the past on how you can almost tell the price of a Sony remote by how many screws it uses – the introductory RM-V402 has 1, the old RM-VL700 has 2, the new RM-VL710 has 5, while the pricier RM-VL900 has 8. This goodly number of screws helps make the RM-VL710 especially sturdy, with excellent resistance to lateral twisting. Despite this robust construction the RM-VL710 weighs just 5.5 oz (154 grams) with two AA batteries, or 3.8 oz (106 grams) without. The remote is well balanced, with the center point approximately one-third of the way from the bottom.
The top half of the case has been finished with metallic silver paint, slightly darker and more textured than the RM-VL700S, with a decorative clear plastic insert surrounding keys in the top third of the remote, similar to the RM-VL1000. The thin yet wide front of the remote is occupied completely by a dark plastic window that shields two infrared emitters plus the learning eye.
The back of the remote is unpainted medium grey plastic. The two case halves fit together perfectly without any hint of rough edges. The large battery compartment cover snaps closed securely and opens without undue effort, but also seems to be a smidgen too wide (a “smidgen” being equal to about 0.02” or 0.5mm). Interestingly, the back of the RM-VL710 picks up obvious inspiration from its big brother the RM-AV3000 (read our review), including thin “wings” on either side, sides that taper inwards, plus a vertical groove that fingers can grip running from the top of the remote down to the battery compartment.