...Continued from Page 3.|
Available device categories are Television, Satellite, VCR, DVD, Amplifier, Audio, Disc and Auxiliary. After selecting one of these the remote lets you name the device – up to 9 alphanumeric letters are possible. Basic typewriter symbols are also available, plus the remote will conveniently fast-forwards through characters when a key is held down.
As mentioned earlier, the iR800 is capable of controlling up to 16 devices through only 5 device hard buttons – a seemingly impossible feat. The ingenious part is how Proton made this work. The five device keys on the remote can be considered five “banks” of components. For example, you can choose to assign two DVD players on the [DVD] key. Each time you press the [DVD] hard button, the remote switches between one and the other. Or, assign “Cable”, “Satellite” and “HDTV” components on the single [STB] key – since the remote allows for custom device labels it’s easy to tell which one is active. The number of devices that can be assigned to each bank is freeform – have 7 on one and 2 on another, it doesn’t matter. During normal use the remote even remembers the last selected device for each bank, so it doesn’t constantly reset back to the first assigned device.
The key to customization.
The “Layout” menu item is used to customize the LCD’s iconic buttons to fit your particular needs. Each LCD square supports three or four different preset labels, ranging from menu controls, transport, television functions, amplifier inputs and more.
The iR800 allows for up to two pages of 14 functions each – that’s 28 LCD-based soft buttons for each device – and a total of 49 possible labels. If none of the labels suit your purposes, a key can also be assigned a blank outline. If a button is unneeded, it can be removed from view. Buttons can be customized in this manner at any time, regardless of whether a preprogrammed code is assigned or learned codes present.
“Now with codes!”
Every universal remote control should include two fundamental routines for figuring out how to control your specific components: a preprogrammed code database, and infrared code learning. In my experience, the more important of these two methods is code learning since, while a learning-only remote can always be taught codes from your factory original remote controls (or another cheaper remote), a preprogrammed-only remote control simply can’t be made to control something it wasn’t originally designed to handle. New models, new brands, new types of devices – all scenarios where an older preprogrammed remote control is likely to come up short when it matters most.
Some preprogrammed-only remotes do have the capability to be upgraded over the phone or by shipping the remote to the factory, but in the end it would have been quicker to simply teach it the needed codes. Of course, on the other side of the coin, a learning-only remote control can’t control something for which you don’t already have the signals – such as a lost or broken factory original remote. This is why it’s ideal to also have a high-quality preprogrammed database.
In the past, Sunwave-manufacturered remotes have only included learning capabilities – no code database. So, I’m very pleased that Proton’s iRemote finally includes a sizeable database covering a wide range of televisions, VCRs, cable boxes, DVD players, CD players, satellite receivers, tuners and amplifiers. Some sections are a still little skimpy – for instance there are only 11 brands of amplifiers and one brand of tuners – but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.