Setting macros is also easy, but you'll need the manual when you do it for the first time. When programming a normal macro - which can only be done once all of the codes have been entered - you can store a sequence of up to 60 commands. But the Smart Macro function works a little differently - it learns the commands from your existing remotes, which means you don't need to have entered all of the codes for it to work, but Smart Macros are limited to 16 commands.
We successfully setup a selection of macros with a range of components including a Sky HD box, an Onkyo AV receiver, Samsung Blu-ray player and Toshiba LCD TV. The process was blissfully simple and worked a treat - devices turned on as requested and correct inputs were selected.
Day to day operation of devices is generally pleasing, although there are a couple of annoyances - the play, stop and chapter skip hard keys (which are also colour-coded for digital TV use) are too low down and therefore quite awkward to press. Another minor niggle is that there's no dedicated ‘play' icon for the soft keys in DVD mode - you have to press the pause button or use the hard play key at the bottom.
And although the Remote 815 is fairly well laid out and will make a great replacement for any dodgy remotes in your collection, you might be loathe to use it in place of a top-notch handset like the Sky+ zapper, or any other remotes that you've grown to love over the years. Using it to control Sky+ is a bit like driving abroad for the first time - initially disorientating, and even though you eventually get used to the differences it never feels quite right. You simply have to weigh up whether reducing the amount of remotes in your collection is worth the sacrifice.
Overall we're impressed by the Remote 815. Its satisfying build quality belies its affordable price tag and there's enough flexibility to overcome most obstacles. The LCD screen looks primitive next to the Philips Prestigo handsets, and it lacks the web-based sophistication of Logitech's Harmony range, but we actually quite like the accuracy of the hands-on setup procedure.
Of course we can't guarantee that you'll have the same hassle-free experience with your own equipment - some people may find it a chore to setup, others may take umbrage with the awkward placement of certain buttons. But despite this, we think the Remote 815 is a simple yet effective solution for remote overload.