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|Philips Electronics N.V.|
Philips exhibited three new remote control products at this year’s show. In the popular Pronto NG lineup you’ll find two new remotes, the TSU3500 and Pro TSU7500, along with a completely revamped RF extender solution, RFX6500.
The TSU3500 addresses one of the primary user concerns of the TSU3000: the black-and-white LCD screen. New brigher, whiter backlighting delivers a higher contrast ratio and improved legibility, while maintaining the unit’s more economical price over the color version. Although the model we saw at the show was still being “tweaked” in terms of contrast, the backlighting certainly was brighter, useful even under supplementary lighting. Another improvement is hard buttons that feature a more tactile surface, and from the sample we saw this upgrade is mainly comprised of shapes on the buttons that extend outwards instead of inwards, however these were again prototypes so we will wait and see how the finished products will look and feel.
Other improvements include faster USB communications – which should now be closer to the Pronto Pro version – and the base package will now ship with the rechargeable battery and docking station (something that many feel should have been that way since the beginning). The price has increased somewhat, rising to $499 USD MSRP, which is slightly more than the cost of the previous model and optional docking station.
The TSU7500’s hard buttons will receive treatment similar to the TSU3500. In addition to slightly modified exterior colors, the other major improvement slated for the Pro model is an upgrade from 32 megabytes to 48 megabytes of memory, which puts it on par with the Marantz RC9500. Unknown at this stage is whether either remote will see improvements to their hard button backlighting – however judging by the units shown, this will remain the same.
The biggest change to the product lineup is the RFX6500, a new 2-piece RF extender that’s designed to boost the Pronto’s RF performance. A new separate antenna module can be separated from the base unit by as much as 20 feet via regular stereo audio cable, and includes an antenna that can be lengthened and swiveled as the environment dictates. The receiver module features greatly improved sensitivity to -71dBm, which should translate into a 15 meter increase in usable range.
Much work has also been done to tune the receiver’s frequency response to ignore other RF interference and, to assist that, a new LED on the antenna module lights up when interference is detected. This should help users place the antenna as far away as possible from other sources of RF. To prove the new extender’s ability to deal with RF noise, the company had their new model set up next to a mirror configuration of a competing RF solution, and were using an RF signal generator to create a sweep pattern of interference. Other improvements to the RFX6500 include new dip switches that can adjust the four 2-way IR emitter ports’ power to one of four different output levels.
The RF performance increase will work with all previous Pronto models compatible with the original RFX6000, and similarly all new Pronto remote controls will also work with the old RF extender.