Giammalvo Files
Mark Giammalvo

Mark Giammalvo specializes in driveability diagnostics at his family business, Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service, Inc. in New Bedford, MA.   

Mark, who has been with the business for over 20 years, is an ASE  Master Technician and Parts Specialist. He also holds the ASE L1 certification, and has an associates degree in business management.
Mark is also a writer for Motor Age Magazine and is the past secretary of the Alliance of Automotive Service Professionals, (AASP).
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(Printed in the Journal of The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, AASP) 

Remotes, Act II Scene VI

For those of you who liked my past article on the difficulties in programming remotes, this ones for you. However, in this situation my problem was with a VCR remote not an automotive remote.

Ok, it's not exactly automotive related but it is an interesting story. Shortly after the holidays I decided to retire my old Hitachi VCR. It still worked but I wanted to purchase a DVD/VCR combination unit. I had done quite a bit of research on the Internet as there are about 15 different models to choose from. Being a satisfied customer of Toshiba products, (I have an 11-year-old Toshiba TV that has never needed a service call), I decided to purchase the Toshiba SDV-280 VCR/DVD player. Other than the Toshiba name, I decided on this model because it was advertised as having what is known as a "Multi-brand" or "programmable" remote. My Hitachi had this feature and it is really neat. In brief, the remote can "learn" the TV's functions so you don't need the TV remote. After bringing the unit home from Sears I took my entertainment center apart and hooked up all the cables from the Toshiba unit to my TV and stereo receiver. Tying it into the stereo is a nice feature as you can use your stereo system's audio during movie playback. Anyway, after fiddling about a ½ hour, I still could not get the unit's remote to operate my TV. In fact, there was no mention in the owner's guide of the remote even being Multi-brand. I knew that it was because both the Sears and Toshiba web sites advertised it as such. Then I realized that the remote does not even have volume control buttons. How can that be, I wondered? A call to Sears for a discussion with their sales personnel revealed that this unit does not come with a Multi-brand remote. The sales person, Jill, was very professional. Hearing how much research I had done, and how both web sites were wrong, she offered me the Sony model (which really has a Multi-brand remote) for the same price as the Toshiba, (a $20.00 discount). The next day, before going back to Sears for the swap, I figured I would call Toshiba's customer relations number just to let them know that their own web site information was wrong. Oh, by the way, did I mention that the box said the unit had an "intuitive" remote? Whatever that means. Calling Toshiba proved to be an eye opener. I advised the customer relations person what had transpired. His reaction was to tell me to read the disclaimer on the bottom of their web site that stated: "All design specifications and dimensions are tentative and subject to change. Please confirm specific features and exact dimensions by reference to the product itself." I asked him what an "intuitive remote" was. He said he had no idea. Well, he was honest anyway. So much for buying Toshiba, Sony here I come.

In the end Sears sold me the Sony SLV-D100. It is a good unit with a remote that controls my TV. Well, it controls my TV to some degree. Are you ready for this? The Sony remote will control any TV's: power, volume, mute, and channel up & down buttons. However, I noticed that none of the "numbered" channel buttons would work. Then I noticed that those buttons on the remote all had little white "dots" next to them. Then I read the owners guide: "buttons marked with a dot only control a Sony brand TV." That means I can't enter the channel buttons directly by number. Do you know how long it takes to go from channel 41 to channel 6 with the "channel down" button? 

Looks like I'm back to using both remotes. Perhaps I should have stuck with my Hitachi VCR. The numbered buttons worked fine on that one. I do like the Sony unit though. I just don't understand with today's technology why I am going backwards on features when buying a newer model.



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