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Sony RM-NX7000 review: Sony RM-NX7000

Sony RM-NX7000

Stewart Wolpin
3 min read
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
Push a virtual button on the touch screen of an LCD-equipped universal remote control and chances are you'll get...bubkes. And by that, we mean you'll get no confirmation that you've just pressed anything save for the resulting action that hopefully transpires. Sony has changed all that with its RM-NX7000 ($799). Press any virtual button, big or small, on its bright color screen, and it magically feels as if you've pushed a key on a cell phone dial pad, complete with a mouse squeak confirmation.
In many ways, the RM-NX7000 is Sony's answer to the more expensive Philips ProntoPro NG TSU7000 ($999), also known as the RU980 in Europe. But while Philips encourages the user to dive right in and customize the Pronto, the RM-NX7000 is designed to be programmed by a trained A/V installer. In other words, don't try this at home unless you have gobs of patience and some experience with complex remotes. And since the RM-NX7000 is a relatively new device, it lacks a user community supplying the homebrew graphics, custom keys, skins, and codes that are staples of the Pronto.
Both the Sony and Philips remotes offer 32MB of RAM, USB PC connectivity for software emulation, a 33-foot IR range, and a color LCD touch screen--the Sony is capable of displaying 65,000 colors vs. the Pronto's 64,000 colors. However, the Pronto lacks the Sony's tactile LCD response.
While we're making comparisons, the RM-NX7000's screen is wider than the Pronto's but not quite as tall--it's 0.3 inch shorter. And the RM-NX7000 is about a half-inch larger all around, which, combined with its 2.75-inch-wide screen, makes it more difficult to operate one-handed. For instance, the navigation array is on the left-hand side of the RM-NX7000's face, allowing only the long-thumbed to reach and manipulate it with the right thumb; the Pronto's centered navigation array is far more thumb-accessible.
While the Pronto's hard key layout is a bit more logical for one-handed operation, Sony does add four extra buttons for frequently used, multidevice functions: Menu, Exit, Muting, and last-channel Recall. Still, we wish both Sony and Philips would add hard transport controls (play, pause, fast-forward, and so on) since the DVR and DVD player has become such ubiquitous home-theater devices.
We like the fact that the RM-NX7000 includes a Memory Stick slot so that new codes and configurations can be added via removable flash memory without returning the remote to the professional who originally programmed it. While the RM-NX7000 is strictly an infrared (IR) remote, you can convert the Pronto into an RF remote with an optional extender. RF technology allows you to control equipment without line-of-sight restrictions.
The RM-NX7000's most glaring weakness is its absurdly short battery life. The spec sheet for the product blithely lists its nickel-metal-hydride cell as lasting "Approx. 1 day (varies depending on frequency of use)." Often we got a low-battery message after only a few hours of futzing. And there's no battery meter to let you know how deep into the power reserve you are. Fortunately, recharging the unit takes only about an hour.
Despite the amazing graphical and programming configurations possible for both the RM-NX7000 and the Pronto, both pale in pure functionality for most users when compared to models from Universal Remote and Harmony, which are designed for true one-handed control, provide access to all functions available without paging through multiple screens, and offer much longer battery life--all at a fraction of the price.
But if you're aiming for status and style as well as ultimate configurability, both the Pronto and this Sony certainly fit the bill. If you're choosing between the two, well, it's a close call, but ultimately, even with the Sony RM-NX7000's nifty virtual button feedback and all, we give the Pronto the slight edge.

Sony RM-NX7000

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 8Performance 9