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Appearances can be misleading.
Looking at the VL700, one would be hard pressed to classify it as anything but ordinary. Despite the subtle ergonomic improvements, the older VL900 is a more visually appealing remote that looks like it should do that much more. And while it is true that the VL900 has additional useful capabilities, the VL700 is no slouch and is nearly as competent at day-to-day tasks as its pricier sibling.
As mentioned earlier, the VL700 is a 5-device learning remote. The five corresponding component buttons are labeled TV, VCR, CBL/SAT, DVD and AMP. However, the remote is capable of controlling a much wider range of components, adding on mini systems, MD decks, CD players, cassette decks, and TiVo/Replay devices. In addition to infrared code learning capabilities, the VL700 also includes a pre-programmed database of brands, allowing it to replace the basic functions from a lost or broken original remote.
Programming the VL700 is simple, as long as you have the manual as a reference. All configuration is accomplished after pressing the small [SET] button, located at the top-left of the remote. An adjacent green LED, combined with LEDs behind each component button, are used to indicate which programming state the remote is in. To configure a preset code, press [SET] and, with all component lights blinking, select the device you want to configure. Next find the three-digit code for your brand, type it on the keypad, then press [ENT] to save. At this point the device can be tested to see if it works, otherwise the procedure is duplicated to enter another code.
Simple stuff, and it remains that way even if you don't have the code list handy. A search function, which is used by alternating between [CHANNEL +] and [POWER], rather than entering a number, can be used to hunt through the entire built-in database. (As a side note, please remember that the CBL/SAT button defaults to the CBL device and will not accept a SAT code until it is reassigned to the SAT device.)
The database itself has been updated since the VL900 and includes more codes in each category. Some sections have been greatly expanded. For instance, the number of DVD player codes has gone from 14 to 24, while receivers have been upgraded from 50 to 86. Still, Sony's database has a while to go before it can catch up to some of their competitors.