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Bite sized macros!
Conspicuously absent from the RM-AV3100’s manual is any mention of the old Channel Macro feature. As the name implies, channel macros were short 4-step macros used to automatically dial in favorite television stations. They could be placed only on editable label keys, and could only reference the same device’s numeric keypad.
In its place, the RM-AV3100 has a new feature called Key Macros. Key macros are still only 4 steps long, but they can now be placed on any LCD based key and can reference commands from any of the remote’s 18 components. Despite the severe length restriction, these “mini macros” are surprisingly practical: enter channel numbers, adjust TV and amplifier inputs at the same time, or select receiver sound fields, to name but a few uses. Note that no delay is added between key macro steps, so certain slower devices may not be able to work properly with them.
Sony’s key macros should eventually blossom into the capability to place a full-length macro on any key – with just a few more steps we’d already be there! Interestingly, component and system control macros can reference key macros, extending their range to a theoretical maximum of 128 steps. Key macros cannot reference other key macros.
Micro macros (more or less).
Sony’s remotes incorporate one of the most robust infrared learning capabilities on the market. Not only is the frequency range unusually broad, but so is the maximum code length – up to 300 bits long. As most codes are far shorter, in the 8 to 20 bit range, this might seem like a lot of excess capability. But Sony’s lower end learning remotes come with few if any system macros, so owners are typically delighted with the extra latitude as it can be exploited for use with “micro macros”, which was described earlier in the RM-AV3000 review.
On remotes that already have more than enough “real” macros (the RM-AV3100 has 45 full length macros and next to unlimited key macros), micro macros are of limited benefit. Still, Sony has chosen to take what was in essence a side effect and turn it into an official feature.
Buried no less than five levels deep in the Setup Menu under “Learn2”, this feature works very much like the regular code learning process. Select the device and key to place the commands on, then aim the source remote at the RM-AV3100 and press the first button. At this point you’re supposed to be able to select the same key on the RM-AV3100 up to three more times, capturing a total of 4 learned commands, but in spite of this “Learn2” operated exactly the same as “Learn” and would not let the key be selected a second time.
Had this feature worked as described in the manual, it would have been a near twin to the mini macros mentioned earlier: instead of referencing commands already stored on the remote, new and possibly different functions would be captured for each key. Despite this apparent oversight, micro macros can still be learned the old fashioned way via nimble fingers and a little trial and error.