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The USB connection on the front of the receiver allows for the connection of an iOS device or flash drive. When an iOS device is connected, the receiver automatically takes control of the device and the screen reads, “Accessory Connected”. The TV then shows a list of the music available, and the Yamaha remote is used to navigate the tracks. All receivers I have dealt with work this way, but not all of them can switch control back to the device. Luckily, the receiver’s remote has a “mode” button that allows you to control the device normally, turning off the readout on the TV.
Here in lies my big complaint with the remote. I found that the choice of buttons to include on the remote and the layout of those buttons was poorly executed. For example, the remote has a total of 11 buttons dedicated to switching between DSPs. I know that Yamaha is VERY proud of their different DSP modes, but seriously, 11 buttons? Next to the volume buttons are not the expected channel buttons, but program/DSP up and down buttons. I think I would smack anyone who changes DSPs as often as channels! I also found myself having to flip open the bottom part of the remote quite often. For example, to control Zones 2 or 3, you need to flip open the remote and hit the “Zone” button. I feel that such an important button should be on the front of the remote. Also noticeably absent are any buttons for set top box operation, such as list/DVR, on demand, or guide. The lack of adequate set-top box functionality is a major oversight that has plagued Yamaha receiver remotes for over a decade. One saving grace with this layout is that each button is customizable via the learning feature on the remote, so it is possible that the remote could control a set top box - just not conveniently. Finally, the remote is not backlit, so it is next to useless in the dark. Overall, there is a lot to like about this remote, but the odd choice of buttons and lack of backlight will likely prevent this from being your primary remote.