The Good The Philips RC9800i is a sleek universal remote with a sharp, easy-to-read, color touch screen. Its built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking can be used to stream music from any PC to your home stereo, as well as images to the remote itself. Another plus is that the remote's firmware is upgradable via a built-in USB port, and you can wirelessly download EPG data via the Internet.
The Bad Setup is mostly straightforward, but we ran into a few snafus. It's also a little irritating that the remote has to be docked in its cradle to stream music.
The Bottom Line The attractive, feature-rich Philips RC9800i is one of the first universal remotes to incorporate Wi-Fi wireless networking--but we hope some of its more annoying shortcomings will be improved upon with future firmware upgrades.
Philips was one of the pioneers of the premium touch-screen remote, but the company's trailblazing Pronto series has recently been retargeted as an installer-only line. For home-theater enthusiasts who still prefer to go the DIY route, however, Philips retains a consumer line of touch-screen models such as the RC9800i reviewed here. The RC9800i, which features a color screen and wireless streaming media capabilities, originally carried a list price of $500. But a few months after its release, Philips decided to lower its price by a hundred bucks, so it now sits at a slightly more palatable $400.
Sleek and understated, with carbon and silver coloring, the Philips PC9800i is one of the more attractive tablet-style remotes you'll see. You can either leave it sitting on a table or pick it up to tap out your commands using your thumbs or the tips of your index fingers. Measuring 4.01 by 5.90 by 1.02 inches (HWD) and weighing 7.49 ounces, the RC9800i feels lighter in hand than it looks at first glance, but its construction seems sturdy, and the finish appears as though it would hold up well over time. A nonremovable, rechargeable battery is built into the remote, which Philips says will give you about 3 hours of continuous use and two weeks of standby time, a figure that's in line with our testing results.
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