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User reviews for the Sony RM-VL900 from Sony Electronics.
Sony RM-VL900
RatingsReviewsMSRP (USD)
Average: 4.51/5.00
Median: 4.67/5.00
The Sony RM-VL900 is an economical all-button universal remote that can control up to 8 devices. It has multiple macros, full learning capability on every key, plus a great ergonomic design.
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the Sony RM-VL900 remote.
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Written by Joe from Coal Valley, IL.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 3-6 months.
Review 4 made on Friday August 25, 2000 at 12:30 PM.
Strengths:Strong IR transmitter
Buttons where I like them
Macro and learning ability
Weaknesses:Lack of discrete codes except on the system macros
Hard to work direct inputs for TV/VCR
Component buttons do not glow
No eject button
PIP controls not labelled
No support for Advanced Codes
Review:I really like this remote. It controlled all of my components (Sony) out of the box. I like the glowing hard-buttons, and I like the learning ability.

Things I didn't like I could half remedy through the learning process. Using the original remotes I could learn some of the functions I needed. I did, however, get another remote to program the discrete on and discrete inputs to use in a macro. Now I can hold DVD for 2 seconds and the Recvr comes on to DVD, the TV goes to Video 1, and the DVD starts playing. And it works even if the components are already on due to the discrete codes being used.
Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Dan Barham from Maryland.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 3 made on Thursday August 24, 2000 at 5:40 AM.
Strengths:Apparently no memory limits. Have never "run out of memory".
Ease of learning.
Handles ALL Sony soundfields! Finally!
Very wide beam angle.
"Two second" macros are excellent.
Weaknesses:Strictly and very subjective: I would prefer the transport keys at the bottom and the volume and channel keys in the middle.
No backlight.
Sometimes requires two-handed operation.
Review:I've used a Cinema 7 for around a year and found it to be excellent with the exception of the memory shortage, no backlighting and it's inability to handle my Sony soundfields. I tried the Sony 2100 a couple months ago and, as usual, did not care for the touchscreen. I wanted buttons.
The 900 met all of my needs with the exception of the weaknesses noted above.
I found programming to be a breeze and the learning process far faster than the Cinema 7. It quickly and easily learned ALL of my components:
Sony 50ES receiver
Sony 61" XBR TV
Panasonic S-VHS VCR
Panasonic DVD Playere
RCA Sat Receiver
Pioneer Laserdisk Player
The Sony receiver's soundfields have always been a problem for learning remotes (none that I have tried have handled them) until the 900. It quickly learned the genres (Movies, Music, and Virtual) with absolutely no problems. There was not, however, a way to rotate through the soundfields within each genre and the Cinema 7 helped immeasurably here. I simply used the advanced code 033 and taught it to the 900. It worked perfectly and I can now use the 900's transport keys (under the "amp" device) for select a genre and the "play" key to rotate through each genre's soundfield. I use thew "pause" button to turn soundfields on and off. I've emphasized the soundfields only because so many Remote Central visitors seem to have the same problem that I did.
I also found the Cinema 7 extremely useful when the original remote did not have a function I wanted. An example would be where the VCR had no button to go straight to the L-1 video input. The Cinema 7 had an advanced code that would accomplish that function and I taught it to the 900, again, with no problem. Overall, I'd recommend the combination of the Sony 900 and the Cinema 7 (or the Radio Shack unit) as nearly perfect parners. Together, they can handle anything I need in a remote.
The lack of any kind of backlight is a problem for me since I watch TV in a nearly dark room. The fact that the device button lights-up in bright red when you press a key is not much help in finding the various keys. I occasionally have a "Senior Moment" where I can't remember ANYTHING about the remote and backlighting would be great.
The volume control and channel selector are at the very bottom of the unit and, for me, that's uncomfortable and necessitates two-handed operation. Again, I would rather have the less-frequently used transport keys at the bottom and move the channel and volume buttons to the middle. I know, personal preference only.
The delayed macros on the device keys work great. I taught a macro to each, where I can switch the receiver's input and the TV inputs to the appropriate settings. My overall startup and shutdown macros are on the universal macro keys at the top of the 900. I also use one of these keys to quickstart recording my VCR when I suddenly realize that I would like to record a show.
While this remote can be found on the "net at around $45 to $50 I bought mine locally at Best Buy where, if I didn't like it, I could return it with no hassle.

Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Marco Reece-Heal from UK.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 2 made on Thursday August 24, 2000 at 2:16 AM.
Strengths:Vast learning memory
Excellent built in code library
Excellent design
Keys are very pleasing to the touch
Weaknesses:No teletext buttons for UK users!
Macros are limited to a few keys
Otherwise 'practically perfect in every way'
Review:This review is written from a UK perspective.

I originally bought a Cinema 7 but found that its lack of support for UK satellite codes and limited learning ability crippled its functionality. I also felt that the keypad layout was less than perfect.

The Sony RM-VL900 fixes all the shortcomings of the Cinema 7 to create a nigh on perfect remote. The only way it could be improved for UK users would be to add teletext labelling.

The only real shortcoming of this remote is its limited macro functionality.

Quality: Features: Value:

Written by Tom Hoots from Oregon, USA.
The reviewer has used this remote control for 1-3 months.
Review 1 made on Thursday August 24, 2000 at 1:04 AM.
Strengths:Instinctive layout, inherent ease of use of buttons over touchscreens, high build quality, enough buttons to handle almost everything you need done. Looks good, too!
Weaknesses:None, really, except how you could always have "more" -- more buttons, more components. Within its limits, it handles everything I've thrown at it!
Review:I've used the Sony RM-AV2000, the All For One a/v Producer 8, spent a good bit of time with the Marantz version of the Philips Pronto, and many other universal remotes, but NONE of them ever came close to the satisfaction I'm getting from the RM-VL900. In short, it is the very first remote control I've felt comfortable enough with ALL of the functions for my equipment to use the one "universal" remote, and put all of my other remotes away!

I've never felt comfortable enough with a touchscreen remote to use it all the time for stuff like VCR transport and menu controls -- I guess they're fine if you're just hitting the Play button and that's it until the movie's over, but I do a lot of "on the fly" editing when I'm recording, and I want instant access to the pause and record functions. Same with playback: I often use the pause function, slow motion, and such, and touch-screen buttons are just no match for good, old-fashioned hard buttons!

And, the hard buttons on the VL900 are right where you need them -- the transport and menu buttons are "right under your thumb," where they should be. That was the downfall of the One For All big remote - first, it was just too dang big to begin with, and then the menu controls were way up at the top, whereas the transport controls were way down at the bottom. You virtually can't hang onto the thing while you use those transport buttons, given their location on the remote!

So, when it comes to button layout and such, the VL900 is like the old Goldilocks story -- it's "just right." And, the buttons are logically laid out enough and there's just plain enough of them to get almost all of the work done that I need done. I'd have to say that the typical DVD player might have a few more controls than you can fit on one "component" on the VL900, but other than that, everything fits just fine. And, I managed to squeeze all of the DVD controls I need onto the VL900, leaving out a few things I really haven't ever touched.

I've programmed several different pieces of equipment onto some single "component" layouts. For instance, I really don't ever use the "menu" commands for my stereo receiver, and I really don't use any commands beyond the simple "transport" controls for my CD player, so I programmed the CD transport controls onto the "AMP" component's transport buttons. That freed up the whole "CD" component, which I set up for a third VCR. Plus, I've turned the "TAPE" component into a real "catch-all" controller for all sorts of different things: I set it up to control several Sony TV sets I have around the house which essentially just broadcast whatever I happen to be watching -- I just really need on/off control, and that's about it. I've also got these other functions assigned to this "component:"

I used an old Sony RM-V60 remote to set up and learn three codes from three different brands of TV sets that were different enough to make my RCA VH920 video source switcher work reliably -- I programmed those on the three buttons right below the numeric keypad.

I used the cheaply-made and unreliable remote control for a fan I've got in my bedroom to program its controls onto the "tranport" buttons. Man, it's nice to have those on a reliable, wide-beaming remote!

I programmed rudimentary on/off, volume up/down, and radio station up/down browsing for a Pioneer receiver in the bedroom onto the "menu" buttons.

And, finally, I programmed the on/off and drawer open/close functions for my Apex DVD player onto the menu and guide buttons, respectively. I've got a Toshiba DVD player programmed as the "DVD" component, and the Apex is the only piece of equipment in the house that isn't otherwise programmed on the VL-900.

Interestingly enough, when I changed the "TAPE" component to "TV" to program it for the Sony TV, I found that the volume control IGNORED the otherwise overall volume up/down control assigned to my Sony stereo receiver. Except for this one component, if I hit the volume up/down buttons, the stereo receiver will respond, but if I hit them while I'm on the TAPE component, now assigned to "TV" for my Sony TV sets, it'll control the Sony TV sets' volume. Initially, that kind of irked me, until I realized that one of the Sony TV sets was in my bedroom, which would be the one situation where I WOULDN'T want to use the audio from the receiver, and I would NEED to control the volume of the Sony TV set in there. So, that turned out to be TOO COOL! (And, perhaps a tip there to try if you want one TV's volume control to "punch through" the overall system volume control...)

In the end, the story goes like this: I've got three VCR's on the VL900 -- two Mitsubishi units, and a Hitachi unit. The VL900 was the first remote I've encountered that actually had a "code" for the Mitsubishi "second" remote control code -- cool! The transport and menu control buttons are so logically arranged that the VL900 is just fine for all the transport and menu work I need to do with these VCR's.

I've got the new Toshiba SD-4205 DVD changer assigned to the "DVD" component -- I was VERY unhappy with the Toshiba's remote, mainly because it had this "jog wheel" on the side to control fast forward / reverse / pause, and such. Just give me some buttons, willya? I really hated that jog wheel -- it was just plain hard to control things with it. Now, all functions are on good, old, reliable bottons on the VL900, and I'm a happy guy.

Then, I've got the usual main TV (a Samsung CompacTheatre model) and digital cable receiver programmed on the corresponding components, to finish out all of the components. So, that rounds out the list of what I've got programmed on the VL900:

One Samsung TV set
Three Sony TV sets
One digital cable box
Three VCR's
One DVD player
Two stereo receivers
One CD player
One remote-controlled fan

Not bad -- that's 11 different pieces of equipment, counting the "same thing" Sony TV sets as just one piece of equipment. The one thing I didn't have room for was my Apex AD-600A DVD player -- between how DVD players have a whole bunch of extra things to control, and how I am quite happy with the Apex's own remote control, and the fact that I really don't use the thing that often compared to the Toshiba player, I decided to leave that out of the mix. I did, however, program the on/off and open/close functions for it onto my VL900, since that helps just a bit.

I was so happy with the VL900 that I promptly went out and bought another one, for the bedroom. I actually really want to buy one or two more, just to leave "in the package," in case either of the two I have dies in the future, and should the VL900 ever be discontinued. It's kind of like the old underwear and shoe thing -- when you go back to buy your favorite stuff that fits, they don't carry it or make it anymore! This remote has become that important to me that I want to make sure I'll be covered for years into the future!

So, that means I've tried the "transmit the contents of one remote to the other" routine, which is VERY cool. All of the component lights on the sending remote light up, and the lights go off on each one as it finishes sending the component to the learning remote, and then the light comes on for each component on the learning remote at it is learned. I have already tried to do the learning routine again, after programming some new stuff on the first remote -- it didn't really "take" on the second remote. So, I just did the command to reset the second remote to the factory specifications, and tried, tried again, and it worked just fine.

The only "problem" I have encountered was the bit about when it started flashing its lights like a nuclear power plant heading for meltdown, when I tried to have it "learn" some new commands after I had taught it about 20 commands. At first, I backed away, worried that the remote was out of memory, but I subsequently just ignored the lights, and kept on teaching it new stuff. Since then, it has learned perhaps a couple of dozen more commands, with no problem either in recording or playback. Heck if I know what the flashing lights are about, but they have made no detrimental difference whatsoever!

That's my story -- this is finally the first "universal" remote that has indeed been that for me. I have always used my VCR remotes, for example, to do most transport work, and all menu work, even though I've had a universal remote of some kind for the TV / AMP / Cable box stuff, and though they've been programmed for my VCR's. I just have never found a learning remote, or at least one that had "codes" for all of the advanced features for every remote, that gave me "hard buttons" laid out logically enough to get the job done. And, I'll take this any day over any touchscreen remote -- I can say with total conviction that I prefer this to even the highly-praised Philips Pronto series of remotes, and certainly over my Sony RM-AV2000.

So, heck, for sixty bucks (or less, if you find a deal), you can hardly go wrong with the RM-VL900! Give it a try, and you just might wind up putting all of your other remotes in the closet!

Tom Hoots
[email protected]
Quality: Features: Value:

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