Pros: Good mix of keys and display makes for a simple interface
Cons: Awkward menuing system, remote layout could be better, occasional crashes
When it comes to universal remotes there are basically two varieties, as I have discovered. There are those which are basically driven by LCD display and those with (many) hard buttons. Seems to me, display driven remotes are flexible to configure but more tedious to operate, whereas you can press a button quicker but the button label that is printed on the remote may not always be descriptive as to what it does and there still may not be enough buttons for all your functions. This remote by Sony offers the best of both worlds -'hard' buttons for common functions and programmable buttons for unique functions which you can label yourself. Between the two, you should be able to cover the entire functionality of the remotes you are tossing.
First, some comments on the layout. I prefer to have the channel, volume and menu buttons in the middle of the remote where my thumb resides as opposed to the bottom. The number keys would do just fine down there. I found the remote to be nice size, though. I also like the audible when buttons are pressed.
After a brief look at the user's manual, I was ready to start programming. I quickly discovered that the backlit display timed out way too quickly (leaving me in the dark). So, I set that to the maximum of 60 secs which helped, even though the toggle switch (which you will use to set label characters) does not reset the timer and at some point in the label process you will again be left in the dark.
There is definitely a learning curve as far as using the menu system. The key thing to note is that the 'set' button is also used to back you out of the multi-layers of menus. Once you get used to the system you will be programming like a pro. Also, I found it difficult to press the 'set' button because of it being small and inset (to avoid accidental pressing, I guess). Labeling takes some time due to the many (useless) non-alphanumeric characters you must scroll through. Even though, if you hold the toggle switch it will accelerate the scrolling. Oh, and the learning capability works very well.
The component macros are a must-have in my opinion. Whenever you chose a component, you can automatically change the input of your receiver and/or TV. The system macros are also a nice way of turning all of your components on/off with a single click.
My biggest gripe with the remote is that after spending some good time programming it, it suddenly hung up. To get it going again I removed and replaced a battery, which freed up the display but erased everything I programmed! Replacing batteries is only supposed to reset the clock (which it USUALLY does).
Overall, I am very happy with the remote.