Philips has been making universal remote controllers for many years now. Its flagship ProntoPro Ng RU990 is a brilliant example of what we think all universal remote controls should strive to be like. As advanced as it is, it was never expected to top the sales chart due to its high retail price that still stands at a little over US$1,000. To tap into the pockets of you and I, Philips has released the SRU9600, a less expensive universal remote that's capable of replacing up to eight stock remote controls.
Being an 8-in-1 remote control, the SRU9600 is immediately poised to replace all your household remote controls, yet it looks surprisingly modest and uncluttered. From the outset, its elegant black and silver color tone certainly does not suggest that it is a sophisticated control commander for your home. It's only when the unit is powered on does it begin to show its true colors - literally. Unlike your average universal remote controls, primary controls on the SRU9600 are tastefully represented by of a touch screen colored LCD and not your typical rudimentary buttons. This makes it easier to pickup the SRU9600 because the touch screen does not show buttons that are not needed by the device or mode you choose. There's even a small LCD screen at the top to inform you the mode you are engaged in.
Despite its modern engineering, programming the SRU9600 is remarkably easy. This is so because Philips has programmed such an exhaustive list of devices into the SRU9600's memory that it's very unlikely you'll find your device missing from the list.
As soon as you stop at the device you want to control, all common buttons will then automatically light up on the touch screen. Advanced functions that are rarely used are accessible via the rotary wheel but in instances where a certain function does not exist, the SRU9600 can be programmed to learn by simply pointing the stock remote control at the SRU9600. Up to a total of 200 keys can be stored, which makes the SRU9600 a truly universal remote control and an easy one at that.
In a step towards offering even greater convenience, the SRU9600 has the ability to send out a chain of commands via a single touch. All one has to do is to follow the on-screen instructions, press a few buttons and adjust the delay between each command where delays can range from as short as 300ms to as long as three seconds. As complicated as it sounds, it's really quite impossible to go wrong and even if something horrible does happen, the memory of the SRU9600 can be wiped clean by resetting to factory defaults.
Although its overall build quality may not be as solid as the flagship ProntoPro, the Philips SRU9600 is still a vastly competent universal remote control no less. We were impressed by its exhaustive database of manufacturer codes and devices, uncomplicated setup, touch-sensitive display, and its ability to 'learn' new functions from original remotes. Available for just US$143, you really should get one because you'll be thanking yourself at the end of a tiring day when all you need to do to fire up your television, DVD player and amplifier is a mere touch of an onscreen button.