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Bits, kilohertz and what it all means.
Sony’s latest remotes come with one of the most capable learning modes available. Not only can they capture frequencies up to 500kHz, but they also support code lengths up to 300 bits long – and since most manufacturer’s codes range from just 8 to 20 bits long, that’s a whole bunch of bits! The extra frequency range is useful for devices that stray from the normal 32-56kHz infrared range (such as Bang & Olufsen at 455kHz), but the extra available bits have an even more common use: micro macros.
First coined in our review of the Sony RM-VL700 (read our review), creating a “micro macro” is the process of learning several infrared signals as a single command. With regular macros, a long list of existing individual commands is recorded and then played back at any time. But such macros are limited to particular areas on the RM-AV2500, while micro macros, although short, can be placed on absolutely any key.
It isn’t easy to successfully capture a micro macro, as no blank space can appear between commands. Normally, each donor remote has to be lined up in front of the RM-AV2500 with your fingers hovering over each button, ready to input the sequence. After a dozen (or more) attempts, you just might succeed in getting 3 or 4 commands learned as a single code. Sure it’s a lot of work, but when you positively must have a macro somewhere Sony doesn’t normally let you, it’s the only way to do it and well worth the effort.
Although the RM-AV3100 has since turned this unexpected side effect into an official feature, micro macros on the RM-AV2500 must still be captured the old fashioned way.
What’s not written in stone...
After teaching a few commands you’ll begin to notice something interesting. As the remote’s LCD flashes, it indicates the status of each button. Take note of the pattern: buttons that are solid and do not flash contain a learned code; buttons that flash every time contain a normal preprogrammed code; LCD squares that flash every other time are empty and will not be shown during normal use. Even the 13 hard buttons are represented by tiny icons in the upper-left corner of the screen. To change a button’s status, hold down [Light] and press the key to change – tapping a learned key removes its contents and restores the preprogrammed command, if there was one. Tapping a blinking preprogrammed LCD key hides it from view, or press again to restore.
In addition to hiding unused keys, another feature that the RM-AV2500 offers over traditional hard buttoned remotes is the ability to change the label on its LCD-based buttons. Although the number of labels is finite and can’t be added to, Sony has five generations of similar remotes under their belt and has managed to refine the list to the most useful selections.
Labels must be configured immediately before teaching a code – they can’t be modified afterwards or changed for preprogrammed keys. After entering the learning mode and selecting a device, hold down that device’s selection button (such as [VCR] for the VCR device) and press the LCD square to customize. Each press of the square alternates to another available label. As soon as you’re satisfied, release the device section button and the remote is ready to learn a command.