When you first power on the SRU8015, you're instantly entered into a setup mode that'll take you through the steps you'll need to configure your various home theater devices. You'll need to manually enter the names of the manufacturers using a cell-phone style text entry keypad. The remote houses thousands of product codes and commands. When you've selected your manufacturer, you're asked to point the remote at the device--when the unit turns on, you immediately have to press a button to lock in that specific set of working codes. If you miss the chance to hit the button, you'll need to start over. This can be quite annoying as some manufacturers have dozens of codes.
If your device isn't listed within the remote's internal database, you still have the option of teaching the remote new commands via its IR window. We successfully used this option while configuring our Nyko Blu-wave PS3 remote, which was not in the product database. You simply point your original device's remote into the SRU8015's IR window and follow the onscreen directions.
You can control up to 15 devices with the SRU8015 in addition to setting up 15 activities. We were happy with the amount of customization an activity provides, including settings for adding IR (infrared) delays. Since home theater devices all turn on and boot up at different speeds, the SRU8015 allows you to compensate for that so the remote isn't sending IR commands to a device that hasn't fully powered on yet.
The activity settings also allow you to decide what device is controlled by default once the activity process is completed. You can then direct the remote to use certain buttons for a specific device while in activity mode. For instance, we set up our remote as such so that after our "Watch TV" activity completed, we could use the volume buttons to control our receiver and the channel buttons to control our cable box. If a key isn't being used or doesn't do what you'd like it to, you have the option of changing individual buttons as well. We also liked the ability to program in favorite channels as the remote has hundreds of cable and satellite logos preprogrammed into its database.
The SRU8015 operates on three AA batteries (which might be the reason for its excessive weight). We would have liked to have seen a rechargeable option here, as some remotes are now offering that kind of functionality. Philips does not quote a battery life estimate, but the remote will warn you when it is running low on power. In our 5 days of testing we didn't need to replace them. There are power-saving measures in place to protect battery life such as an auto dimmer and auto shut-off. The remote should also remember your settings if you replace the batteries in a timely fashion. If you do plan on using the SRU8015, we recommend purchase a set of rechargeable batteries to go along as it will surely save you money in the long run.
Overall, the Prestigo SRU8015 performed smoothly, albeit with a few bumps in the road. Unfortunately, we think its predecessor (the Philips Prestigo SRU8010) has a superior design, and if you can still find it, we'd recommend it over the SRU8015. At the end of the day, we don't think anything can touch the experience of using external software to set up a remote as found in the Logitech Harmony series. If for some reason you are turned off by that concept, the SRU8015 is simply a mediocre alternative. Priced around $95 online, we think you're better off with something like the URC Digital R50. Of course, should you choose a software-based Harmony remote, the solid-performing Logitech Harmony 550 can be had for $90 online.