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Philips PHDVR8L Remote Control Review
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Philips PHDVR8L Remote Control

An inexpensive model with 8 devices, learning, macros and lots
of buttons... but is it good enough for your A/V system?

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s you shop for a new universal remote control, what type of designs have been catching your eye - do you long for buttons galore, or does the thought of row after row of keys make your head spin?

Regardless of price, a remote control's designer will usually try to strike a balance between ergonomics and function-specific control. So, basically, a remote intended for home theater users should be easy to use, but also have enough buttons that it can capably operate complex devices such as DVD players or receivers. To meet these requirements, most high-end models employ "soft" buttons that add functionality without increasing the physical button count - either in the form of an LCD touchscreen that can display numerous pages of controls in a defined space, or a button-and-screen combination where specific hard buttons can be given several custom-labeled functions for each device.

Inexpensive remotes, however, don't have the luxury of screens or soft buttons. Instead, most simply have fewer buttons, period - both to keep costs down and to make them less intimidating to consumers. But what if you're a remote shopper on a budget who wants full control over your equipment? What if you actually prefer to have every function for a device available on a single control surface, without needing to constantly change modes? Well, there are others looking for just such a product!

The Philips PHDVR8L "universal digital DVR learning remote" is inexpensive at just $34.95 USD MSRP, but it offers over 50 backlit hard buttons in a slim, compact design that can hold the commands to a full 8 original controls. This model is also more readily available as the Philips/Magnavox PMDVR8 for $29.99 MSRP, which is the same design but without keypad backlighting.

Learning? Lots of buttons? Inexpensive? Read on!

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What's in a name?
The Philips name you see here isn't strictly the same Philips that's responsible for the famous Pronto line of remotes - but things were once more independent than they are now.

Some years ago, accessories maker Gemini Industries manufactured and sold universal remotes under license to large electronics brand names such as Philips, Magnavox and Zenith, and were also responsible for the "For Dummies" line of remotes. Other than lending their name to the end product, Philips themselves had little to do with the design or construction of these models.

Times change - in 2004 Philips purchased Gemini, upgrading these remotes from mere bearers of the Philips badge to actual Philips products. Remember that Philips is a huge company. The division that manages the Pronto lineup (as well as an additional series of universals only sold in Europe) is completely separate from the division formerly known as Gemini, so don't expect any similarity in base concepts or how their offerings operate.

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