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Third, it seems as if someone couldn’t decide between huge or tiny buttons, and so decided to use both. Several round ones measure 0.45” (11.4mm) in diameter, while others are a mere 0.14” (3.6mm). So much room ends up being taken by the voluminous keypad and volume/channel toggles that everything else feels crowded into the bottom.
Fourth, much like key size, button labels also vary from large to miniscule. Half of the remote appears to have been designed with special purpose legibility in mind, while the other half uses small black labels printed over a reflective medium grey background that fails to harmonize with that goal. Consequently, the [Power], numeric keypad and [OK] button labels tend to look out of proportion.
With that said, these all boil down to minor nitpicks. Overall the RM-VL710’s keypad is a vast improvement over the RM-VL700 and practically every other remote in this price range.
[Set]ting the way.
There’s nothing worse than programming a remote control blindly. But without a feedback method, such as an LCD screen, the often lengthy procedures necessary during setup become tricky, especially if something doesn’t work since it’s nearly impossible to figure out what went wrong. Even though the RM-VL710 has no screen, it does feature 6 bright LEDs at the top that are capable of providing ample feedback during the configuration process.
All setup is done with the [Set] button, which has two modes. The first is accessed by holding [Set] and pressing the [Menu] button. This enters the main configuration mode where preprogrammed codes are entered and macros recorded, and is indicated when only the five component buttons flash. The alternate mode for learning commands is activated by holding [Set] for several seconds, causing the red [Set] LED to illuminate.
Like all good remote controls, the RM-VL710 has both a preprogrammed code database for replacing lost or missing remotes, along with full learning capabilities for better system integration as well as future proofing.
Sony’s preprogrammed database has never been a particularly strong point, typically covering basic device functionality for major brands and little more. Beyond a functional Sony receiver AV2 code (finally!), no further improvements have been made over the past few years. The selection of brands and number of codes remains identical to the RM-AV3000, but is more up-to-date than what originally came with the RM-VL700. As well, the remote does cover some advanced Sony functionality, including television “PIP”, DVD features such as “Title”, “Audio” and “Subtitle”, plus STB “Favorites”.
Also on the bright side, Sony’s code entry method couldn’t be simpler. Enter setup mode by pressing [Set] and [Menu], causing all device LEDs to flash. Pick the component button to change and only that one LCD will remain lit. Now enter the four-digit code number as found in the manual insert, followed by [Ent]... and that’s absolutely it. If the number was invalid the LED will flash five times, otherwise that device should be good to go. Available component types in the database include analog cable boxes, CD players, digital cable boxes, DVD players, DVRs (ReplayTV and TiVo), MD decks, mini systems, receivers, satellite receivers, tape decks, televisions, TV/VCR combos, and VCRs.