Philips Pronto (TS1000) – Review

I have had my fair share of universal remotes in my time. I started of with a cheap and cheerful Memorex 4 device model. I then progressed to a One-For-All 6 (upgradeable).

I had a brief encounter with the Remote Angel but I rejected it and instead plumped for the stunning 8-device Marantz RC-2000 (Mk1). That was About 18 months ago and now even an 8 device, 64K universal remote isn’t enough anymore. So…bring on the new contender. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Philips TS1000 Pronto.

The Remote – I ordered my Pronto from “Metronet Safe & Sound” in the States because (surprise, surprise) Philips don’t sell it in Europe yet even though it is actually made in Belgium. Thankfully you can now buy the unit in the UK from Lets Automate Ltd. Out of the box the first thing that hits you is its size. I expected something bigger (for all this money). The screen is about the same size as the one used in a Palm Pilot and is similarly back lit (greeny blue colour).

The Pronto is a learning remote and can cope with IR up to a frequency of 56KHz. This does not cover certain equipment that uses higher frequencies than this (some Pioneer and B&O stuff for example). However I am told Pronto can playback higher frequencies. I have read of people successfully operating B&O gear after being able to download the commands from some of the websites dedicated to Pronto. Signal strength is amazing. I can control equipment from anywhere in the room (and even from the hall outside)

The system spec says it has 1mb non-volatile flash memory and 512k SRAM. After deleting all the unnecessary templates in the default.ccf file and entering 10 devices of my own I still have over 70% of the memory free!

The Problems Even the Pronto could be improved however. The delay between the home and device panels takes around a second and this can get frustrating. If the animation could be speeded up this would help. I would also like to see a “time-out” feature that would make the remote revert to its “Home” screen after a configurable amount of time (several hours most probably). This would mean the first time you lift Pronto on a new day it would be at the “Home” screen rather than in the 3rd panel of CD or whatever you were doing with it the night before. Also the backlite on the rubber buttons is a totally different colour to that of the LCD (I’m being really picky now aren’t I!).

The Software The PC software for the unit was out just before I got mine. After seeing what it can do I think the unit would have been slightly disappointing without it. Certainly with it it becomes the most versatile thing you could imagine. Already there are hundreds of .ccf files on the Net for Pronto. Some clever chapies have designed great looking 3D buttons to replace the standard ones and chances are you won’t even have to learn the commands for your Hi-fi etc as some kind soul will probably have already done it and uploaded them for the greater good! I was just saying to someone the other day, the Pronto would be a great “in-wall” controller. If it could be hard wired and mounted properly it would be a serious competitor for the TouchLinc in wall LCD products. Cheaper, better software, better graphics etc etc!

The Docking Charger Sold as an optional extra the DS1000 docking charger does two things. Firstly it keeps the remote constantly charged. When you buy the docking charger you get 3 things. The base unit/charger itself, the power supply for it and a nickel metal hydrid (NiMh) battery pack. My Marantz RC2000 (Mk1) uses a set a 4 good quality AA cells every six weeks at present! The battery pack is a sealed unit that snaps in in place of the 4 x AA cells (included with the basic Pronto). Secondly it provides a stylish base on which to store the Pronto and with its metallic silver finish it looks great. If you buy from the States then Maplins sell a transformer so you can use the docking station’s existing US power supply here in the UK. The part number is NJ98 and at the time of writing costs £17.95. The best thing about the battery pack is the life it gives the remote. So far I have charged the unit ONCE since I got it (over six weeks ago now)

The Verdict When is a remote not a remote? When it’s 10 remotes or a Pronto! It may be the last remote I’ll ever need to buy (yeah right – who am I kidding). While you may think it expensive, the Pronto can do what remotes costing 4 and 5 times its price can. For something that I use for literally hours everyday and as the main interface between me and the house I feel it’s not over priced. It’s also a WFD (wife friendly device) and the addition of the “Help” button has made its acceptance into the house very smooth. Early adopters rejoice! Two words..BUY ONE!

Approximate Price
RU890 Pronto Remote £160.00
RU891 Dock & Battery £40.00
(Both Together £190.00)

Available From Lets Automate

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