...Continued from Page 7.|
Time for a change!
Another new spiffy feature is timers - and there's a full dozen of them to play with. Timers are, in reality, complete macros unto themselves with 32 steps each, and are treated just like Component Macros - except they can reference both System and Component macros. The RM-AV3000 supports a clock and day-of-week function, so macros can be configured to run at a specific time of day on any single day of the week, or on one of several combinations: weekdays only, weekends only, or weekdays plus Saturday. Having difficulty getting your DSS system to play nicely with your VCR? The RM-AV3000 could be used as a surrogate program timer!
Timers can be enabled and disabled on the fly without changing any of their parameters. During normal operation, the [Timer] hard button directly accesses a special screen whose only purpose is to turn timers on or off. Whenever a timer is active no further changes can be made to it and a little clock icon is shown on-screen. After a timer has completed a week's run it is not disabled and will continue to run forever after.
As a completely new feature it would appear that much thought and refinement has gone into designing the timer function. Creating a new timer can be expedited by copying any existing timer. Timers can also be instantly viewed thanks to a [Test] button. All parameters for timers are adjusted from one setup menu option, and if you attempt to attach a new macro over an existing one the remote asks if you would first like to delete the old one.
In contrast, there's no way to copy an existing System or Component macro; the only way to preview a macro is by entering programming mode and selecting one that has already been recorded; if you attempt to program overtop of one it instead previews it, thus forcing manual deletion; hold time and interval settings are accessed from a completely different part of the setup menu. If only every section had been given an overhaul to match the simplicity of timers!
A button of your own.
We now come to one of the most requested feature additions for the RM-AV3000: customizable labels. The drawback with hard buttoned remotes, or even LCD remotes with fixed screens, are that buttons are labelled what they're labelled: there's no means for alteration. Although most of the RM-AV3000's buttons aren't customizable (or are merely semi-customizable), Sony has added four spaces to the bottom of the screen, each of which can hold an 8-character customized text label. Each device gets three pages of these - with over 18 devices that's a total of 216 custom labels. An equally sized region at the top allows for device names that finally match what they're supposed to be controlling.
Although there's a special [Label] option in the setup menu that leads directly to device function, system macro and timer label editing, Sony has also thoughtfully provided a "2 second hold" shortcut that leads directly to editing in learning and system macro programming modes.
When editing text, the remote displays a new screen. Here the numerical keypad includes letters above each digit, similar to a telephone dialpad. Each time a digit is pressed, the character changes. Sony supports numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, plus small icons accessible from two "Symbol" keys. Icons include standard typographic characters (like the kind found on your keyboard), arrows, transport symbols, a clock, um... a car, a martini glass... you get the idea.