Thursday, May 5, 2011

Small, Specific And Pointless: Don't Lose Your Sony RMT-D148A (Or Lose It And Find A Universal!)

The Good: Durable, It works, Easy to clean
The Bad: Expensive to replace, Very limited range, Small, Functions that don't necessarily work
The Basics: Ridiculously expensive for such a specific remote, the Sony RMT-D148A should be passed by for a good universal remote (if one exists!).

You know the old axiom that says that as soon as the warranty expires on something, it is bound to break down, usually immediately thereafter? No sooner had I gotten off the phone with Sony to replace my Bravia's remote control, than the remote control to my mother's DVD player went missing. This is a huge problem as the DVD player she has, the Sony DVP-PQ1 (reviewed here!) only has a single button: power on. EVERY other function on that little DVD player is done via remote control. In other words, a compatible remote, namely the Sony RMT-D148A remote control is absolutely essential to running it. None of the other Sony or universal remote controls we had in the house worked on the DVP-PQ1, so we ended up ordering a replacement for the small, annoying and entirely specific remote control for the small DVD player. If my mother weren't so set in her ways, it would almost have been cheaper to buy a new DVD player!

Operating on two AA batteries, the Sony RMT-D148A is a remote control that is designed specifically for use with the DVP-PQ1 player and does not seem to function on any other DVD players or SONY appliances. That latter fact is a little irksome because my mother has a Sony television and this remote has a pair of "TV Volume" buttons to lower or raise the volume on the television the DVD player is attached to, but it does not seem to work. The replacement - and original - we received have no documentation, so how one is expected to code the TV Volume buttons is a mystery, a mystery that deepens when one considers how specific the remote is and how very few buttons there are on it to allow users to do anything. One would think that with such a low-performing, limited function remote control, it would be pretty energy efficient, but strangely, new batteries only seem to last a year in this small remote before they must be replaced.

The RMT-D148A is very much a no-frills remote control. Like most remote controls, one end has an infrared emitter which sends the signal to the DVD player. With an unobstructed view of the DVD player, the RMT-D148A has an effective range of about fifteen feet. Fifteen feet is a shockingly short distance when it comes to home theaters, but no combination of batteries and pointing of the remote has ever allowed me to operate the DVD player further away than fifteen feet. On a day-to-day basis, my mother uses her RMT-D148A at about twelve feet, as she has recently positioned her television at the foot of her bed in her bedroom, so this remote is adequate for her, even if it is unimpressive for those with serious home theater needs.

The RMT-D148A is not bogged down by any functions or features that do not directly control the Sony DVD player, outside the pointless TV volume buttons. So, for example, it does not have a self-lighting function. This is annoying to say the least, especially when one considers that the remote is only 5 1/2" long and 2" wide at the base (the "active" end of the remote is tapered to 1 3/4"). Given that only the Power button is green, the white and gray buttons of this remote make it blend in easily with a lot of different decor, which makes it a pain to find in rooms that have a more modern (stainless steel or computer furniture white/gray) colorscheme to them. Our old one has still not turned up!

The controls on the RMT-D148A remote control are obvious and intuitive and seem pretty generic for all dvd players, even if the remote only works on the one specific Sony DVD player. The "play," "pause" and "stop" buttons are located in the center of the remote, above directional arrow keys and the "enter" key (which we've only used a handful of times for DVD games). Between the row of important keys and the top arrow are the menu keys which activate the DVD menus. Above the essential keys are the chapter skip (forward and back) keys and the fast forward and fast reverse keys. To be fair to Sony, the RMT-D148A is well-designed in that the keys my mother never uses, like "Shuffle," "Repeat" and the subtitle button are furthest away from the controls she uses most. Still, in the dark, she has frequently found herself reading her movie in Spanish when she just wanted to pause the film.

There is no "eject" button on the RMT-D148A because the DVD player it is for has a flip-top access instead of a traditional DVD tray.

Before it disappeared, my mother had the remote for years and she had is set beside (and sometimes in) her mug of water or Pepsi and it never kicked out on her, which does speak to the durability of this remote control. The remote control was easy to clean off with a damp cloth and its functioning was never impaired by either the spills or the removal of spilled matter. This has durability down the way one expects from a Sony product.

But, because it is a no-frills remote, if one loses it, there is no function that allows the remote to be found by pressing a button and causing the remote to emit a noise. This may be indestructible and essential to the DVD player, but it is not impossible to lose and as an essential piece, Sony makes consumers pay for the device. Still, I suspect that there is a universal remote that the Sony DVP-PQ1 would work with and I think it is worth it for most consumers to find that remote than shell out the $14.99 (or more) one is likely to by buying this from Sony.

For other television-related electronics products, please visit my reviews of:
Sanyo 19" DP19648 television
Sony DVP-NS57P DVD Player
Playstation 3


For a comprehensive list of the electronics products I have reviewed, please visit my index page here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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