Philips RC9800i St. John's NL
September 1, 2005 By David Birch-Jones
Coffee-Table Clutter Killer
The Philips RC9800i is targeted toward a customer who just wants a universal remote that operates their media system and other audio and video equipment elsewhere in the home, and doesn’t want to be bothered grappling with PC software to get the remote configured for their particular setup.
What also sets the RC9800i apart from other touchpad remotes is its WiFi wireless connectivity that provides some useful advantages in a networked home environment.
The remote itself is a stylish affair, with a number of hard buttons and a cursor/enter control on the right of the unit alongside the 3-inch color touchscreen.
The hard buttons provide direct control of typically used functions such as volume and channel control, with the touchscreen buttons providing the rest of the control functions.
As is typical with learning remotes, the RC9800i can learn command codes by placing other remote controls head-to-head with it, but that can be a tiresome process especially if there are more than a few components’ code sets to learn.
Instead, I used the RC9800i’s automated learning wizard that, along with a supplied PDA-style plastic stylus, walked me through a Q&A session. With a virtual keyboard and number pad on the touchscreen, I identified my system’s components by brand and model number and the remote searched its surprisingly large internal library of remote command codes. The remote then does a short test to ensure the correct codes have been chosen, and even provides for power on or standby and discrete power on and off commands.
I’ve tested other remote controls that claim to have extensive code sets in memory, but often find them wanting.
I have a Panasonic combo TV/VCR in the den, one of its most popular and longest-running models, which for some reason has a code set that isn’t related to other Panasonic TV and VCR models.
The RC9800i is the first universal remote that I’ve come across that had the proper codes to control the Panasonic TV—it even had the codes for my Runco (NEC-sourced) CRT front projector.
WiFi connectivity has the remote control talking to my wireless router and broadband internet connection, enabling automatic retrieval of Philips’ electronic program guide for local over-the-air TV channels, your local cable service, as well as for DirecTV and Dish Network satellite sources.
They do require you to sign up for the service via the Internet, but the first year of service is free. At press time they hadn’t decided what, if any, charge would apply after the first year. I found it useful for local channel listings, but I wouldn’t bother with it for satellite or cable, as these companies already provide detailed on-screen program guides with their services anyway.
The media manager PC software Philips provides comes from its Streamium family of universal plug-and-play (UPnP) compatible components. It allows the RC9800i to communicate with the...