When Sony originally released the RM-V310, it replaced two other models to become the top product in their lineup of preprogrammed-only remote controls. However two models from that original series continued to stick around: the 4-device RM-V202, and 2-device big button RM-EZ2 (read our reviews). Even though their styling was no longer consistent with newer units and their code database outdated, it appeared as though Sony was content to leave those lower-end models alone.
Flash forward a couple of years to when Sony refreshes their universal remote lineup. The RM-VL600 is upgraded to the RM-VL610 (read our review), and although the RM-V310 continues to be offered as a current product the RM-V202 has finally been retired and replaced with the primary subject of this review, the new 4-device RM-V210. The RM-EZ2 has also been upgraded to the RM-EZ4, which weíll cover at the end.
New buttons in the same space.
Priced at $9.99 USD MSRP, the RM-V210 looks nearly identical to the RM-V310 and sports the exact same case size and design. The housing is now black, but then again so is the currently sold version of the RM-V310.
Where the RM-V210 begins to distance itself from its otherwise more capable sibling is with its button layout: there are more keys! The total number of usable in-device functions has grown from 39 on the RM-V310 and 35 on the RM-V202, to a series high of 50, the same as the RM-VL610. To accommodate this growth almost every button has been shrunk in size and had its spacing compressed. This begins with the numeric keypad which has had a total of 6 new buttons wedged between it and the menu cursor cluster Ė a series of 4 keys labeled [A] through [D], plus a separate row with [Page Up] and [Page Down]. The menu cluster hasnít been left alone, and in addition to shrinking in size has had two additional keys added to the sides: [List] and [Fav]. Finally, the transport section has also seen renovation, with a new row of 4 DVR-friendly keys covering [Previous], [Next], [Replay] and [Skip] functions.
While itís true that the button layout on the RM-V210 is rather cramped compared to the RM-V310 (unnecessarily considering the vast amount of empty space that remains at the bottom of the remote), in attempting to re-use the RM-V310ís case and maintain the same styling Sony has arguably done a better job with diversifying button shapes than they did with the higher-end RM-VL610. Where the RM-VL610 has an all-new design that sticks almost exclusively with plain, thin and rectangular buttons, the RM-V210 continues to employ round, friendly buttons with domed tops. The 5-way cursor pad has sculpted edges, while the [Volume] and [Channel] toggles feature more familiar shapes. Overall this key layout is far easier to distinguish by feel alone.
Four devices, little else.
Unfortunately, the major downside to the RM-V210ís surprisingly decent keypad design is that itís otherwise an extremely limited remote. The four device buttons are for [TV], [VCR], [Cable] and [DVR], and the preprogrammed code database only extends that support to cover satellite receivers and DVRs. One improvement on the RM-V210 is that the [Set] button finally has an adjacent LED for feedback during programming Ė without this, configuration is performed entirely blind without any idea of whatís going on, or even if the remote is working.
Beyond the initial configuration of preprogrammed codes, thereís really nothing else to do on the remote Ė there are no macros, and certainly no configurable volume punchthrough. Thereís absolutely no way to control an audio-based device such as a receiver or CD player with the database, and since the RM-V210 is not a learning remote thereís no way to force it to operate anything thatís not already in its database. So ensure that the equipment you own is covered before buying!