The remote's manual lists some rather odd restrictions on exactly what can be learned and where. First, it says the remote can only learn the commands for one specific device under each of the 8 device buttons. This is different than almost all remotes I've reviewed in the past, which allow you to learn any command from any device on any button. Second, a small loose addendum to the manual says that no commands may be stored on [Macro], [Learn], [Code Search] or any of the device buttons - so far so logical. But then it goes on to mention that [Advance], [Replay], [Swap], [Thumbs Up] and [Thumbs Down] also cannot hold commands. To quote a toddler's favorite question to everything… "why?"
Testing these limitations was simple enough. For the first one, try to learn as many brands of codes as possible under one device. What we discovered is that, for the most part, multiple brands will not work. The remote was able to successfully capture Sony, Marantz and JVC codes under a single device, however it would not add Hitachi into the mix. Similarly, a device that started off with a Hitachi code would no longer accept any Sony, Marantz or JVC codes. But even if it did accept one code from a "different" brand, there was no rhyme or reason as to whether it would accept additional commands from that same brand. And forget about "micro macros".
So, ultimately, you're going to have to stick with one brand of learned codes for each of the 8 devices. And if this restriction is met, codes are generally captured reliably and quickly, although precise alignment between the two remotes is critical.
The second limitation, learning on five of the normal in-device keys is not possible. This seemed particularly unusual considering that these keys were scattered in random places. Fortunately, we were unable to find any situation where the addendum was correct - under every mode codes learned just fine on those five keys, even if the original device did not initially assign a function to them (which can be determined during normal use by the LED flicking instead of illuminating when such a key is pressed).
No mention of memory size or learning limits is present on the box or in the manual, however the remote did run out of room after capturing approximately 100 codes (out of a theoretically possible 360), which is just over two completely full devices at 45 usable buttons each. But since it's unlikely that a device will use every possible button, this should average out to space for 3 or 4 real-world devices. At any rate, due to this limitation the preprogrammed code database should be utilized wherever possible, reserving the limited learning memory for unavoidably omitted functions or devices.
Since it's nearly impossible to learn more than one brand on a single device, the PHDVR8L includes two punchthrough features for volume and transport controls, which "punch" certain commands from one device through to others.
The volume control punchthrough can be configured so that the volume buttons for every device reference a single device, for instances where all sound comes from a television or receiver. Or you could have a combination of the two devices, such as the television for all video devices and the receiver for all audio devices. It is also possible to disable the volume punchthrough for individual devices.