Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SONY RM-AX1400 Remote Control Review (2012 Update)

 

5b3a8560.jpg picture by linkai8424

 

Jan 2012 Update:

Recently I have some major upgrade to my home theater components, so I have to add component and reprogram part of the remote. But only disappointed to find that there’s no 64bit driver for this remote. Therefore you can’t update this remote control without a 32bit windows system!

The 32bit driver is included on the original disc that came with the remote, which you can get it here:

 

If you are using the remote control for the first time on your system, mount and point windows to the disc for driver installation, you don’t need to install this old version. The latest version is 1.1 on SONY site, which doesn’t include the 32bit driver. For windows vista and 7 (32bit) users, you have to enable admin to run the program:

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I’ve tried to install this under VMware, but apparently it has to have the USB driver installed for the main physical system, otherwise the USB device won’t be passed to VMware… Or maybe it’s the limitation of the old version?

 

Original Review Starts Below:

Looks like I haven't put up a review for the remote control I've been using for over a year. So it is a SONY RM-AX1400. It is an 8 device remote control with self-learning and computer programming capability. This is by far the best remote control in terms of what I want to achieve. I've used Logitech Harmony and RCA remote controls and end up returning those.

Here are some strong points for this remote control:

1. Flexibility. This remote control has unlimited amount of memory for the 8 devices, you can arrange the buttons and labels any way you want. Most under $100 remote controls always have limitations on memory (although they might control upto 15 devices, but for me, 8 devices is more than enough...) which requires you to find codes from their database, then modify and add codes later on, this remote on the other hand, has no limitations on the memory, you can learn EVERY single buttons from the original remotes and place them ANYWHERE you want them to be.

2. Off-line computer programming capability with scripts. The Logitech Harmonies require on-line access and turning off anti-virus software.

3. Cheap on ebay. Has a price of $10 regularly on ebay plus $10 shipping.

4. Good build quality. The build feels very solid. I’ve been having this remote for more than 4 years now, dropped it quite a few times (well, on carpet), and it’s still going strong.

 

Here are some weak points for this remote control:

1. No database for most remote control codes. They only provide very small amount codes, mostly SONY brand. So you need the original remote controls and have to learn commands from the original remote.

2. Terrible ergonomics. Remote is on the heavy side (a plus and a minus), has very small buttons which are very hard to press. The whole design is just not very comfortable.

3. Backlight is somewhat fuzzy on the buttons, hard to see.

So below is the GUI of the program, AX1400 Remote Editor:

b35fd166.jpg picture by linkai8424

The Emulate button made the remote really easy to test the effectiveness of the programming. And yes, the remote has FOUR XPRESS Buttons, which works similarly as what remotes from other brands can do. Pressing XPRESS Buttons can switch the TV to the right input, turn on the AVR, turn on DVD/Blu-ray player all at once if it is programmed right.

And here is the general settings for this remote, includes backlight timing, display settings, and beep.

6ea3945a.jpg picture by linkai8424

Editing buttons is also relatively easy. The strong area is including the label, which can show the function of a button. (The  buttons on the remote are hard buttons, they are NOT removable, so having labels can give buttons a dynamic feeling.)

cc88f6b3.jpg picture by linkai8424

Alias is SONY's term for transporting a button's function under the same button layout. So by using Alias, you can control AVR, DVD/Blu-ray player, TV all under one button layout without switching between devices!

Another strong point is the scripting ability, which can take upto 100 steps! The delay function is great since it gives the flexibility controlling the systems, especially during powering up all the devices. To delay a little between each devices firing up is a good practice since powering up all of them at the same time might put too much load on electrical line (may cause power fluctuation).

0a4d6828.jpg picture by linkai8424

So to summary, this is a pretty decent remote control, it is so far the only remote that can do what I want. The price is cheap on ebay due to unpopularity, so getting a replacement wouldn't be problem.

 

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