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The outcome is a remote that a) sits comfortably by itself on a tabletop, offering a great view of the LCD screen, then b) can be picked up snugly in the palm of your hand. A groove that runs the entire bottom length of the remote provides a good finger grip, but isn't wide enough to allow the RM-AV3000 to sit securely on a leg or a couch armrest.
Nary a cut corner to be seen.
In addition to being thinner, the new case is also more angular. One of the design's new facets are four sharp corners that may be more aesthetically pleasing, but impact negatively on ergonomics. When remote inevitably attempts to interface with floor, this is one case where I'd prefer "corners" to be cut!
Even so, the RM-AV3000 is quite sturdy and utilizes heavy-gauge plastic mouldings. Thanks to additional screws and improved engineering techniques that forgo the classic clamshell construction in favor of an inset design, the RM-AV3000 should be more resistant to drops and developing the seemingly unavoidable case "creakyitus" that plagued previous versions. Despite its size, only a very small amount of lateral case twisting is possible.
Complementing the new design is a much sturdier battery compartment lid that snaps securely in place. The remote takes 4 AA batteries, not included... a curious oversight as Sony does have their own brand of batteries. A rechargeable battery pack is not offered, but you should get several months out of alkalines. Everything weighs in at 13.0oz (375g) with batteries or 10.0oz (280g) without, only slightly heavier than previous versions. Two small rubber feet on the bottom stop the remote from sliding off tabletops.
Beginning with the RM-AV2100 Sony has been making their higher-end remotes silver in color, presumably to match all those silver home theater components. The RM-AV3000 is once again silver toned, but this time more of a bright aluminium than a dark steel. I'm not one for solid silver electronics, but must admit that the RM-AV3000's case is done in an attractive matte textured finish that simply exudes elegance. The bottom half of the case is colored a light grey, unusual but complementary.
When less equals more!
Sony has managed to both take away and add hard buttons to the RM-AV3000. First, the older RM-AV2100 sports 22 hard buttons, 12 of those for selecting devices and 3 for system macros. The RM-AV3000 has 27 hard buttons, but surprisingly only 6 of those directly access devices, with an identical 3 dedicated to system macros. Of course, mentioning that the RM-AV3000 now supports 18 devices and 15 system macros just compounds the confusion... and I won't be resolving this for another few paragraphs!
Back to hard buttons. As with the RM-AV2100, the RM-AV3000 includes a [Commander Off] button to turn the remote off, a [Light] button to toggle the backlight on/off, three quick-access [System Control] macro buttons, a volume up/down/mute cluster, plus channel up/down. The RM-AV3000 adds a [Previous Channel] button below the channel toggle and also incorporates an important new feature that makes the remote much easier to use day-to-day: a 5-way directional cluster, with 2 additional buttons for menu access! Although this isn't the popular 5-way menu joystick of legend, Sony's individual button cluster is large enough and placed well enough to be very usable.