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Palm Pilot is an excellent Universal Remote Control
This thread has 230 replies. Displaying posts 1 through 15.
Post 1 made on Saturday May 15, 1999 at 10:03
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I posted the following in the Pronto forum, which was a mistake (a bit close-minded over there). I should have posted it here for those wondering about universal remotes in general.

My point of this post is to let those know that the PalmPilot is an excellent choice for a universal remote control. IMO, it is competing with the Pronto and the Madrigal at a much better price level. The street price of the pronto right now is $179. Add the necessities for the software and IR extender, and you're up to $220.
Read below, and check it out before purchasing another remote! I LOVE mine!

After reading the posts, and doing a lot of research on remote controls, I've chosed the Palm Pilot.

1. Is it better than the Pronto? No. The pronto is a dedicated remote control created for that purpose.

2. Can it do the same things as the Pronto? Yes, for the most part. Everything you need a remote to do, it does (learning, macros, touchscreen, hard keys (yes they are programmable), and even a timer to set off macros at a certain time of the day).

3. Does it have the same IR strength as the Pronto? No. But, the extender is supposed to increase the IR signal 400times. What I am going to do to remedy this is to use my leapfrog unit which attaches onto the remote and converts IR to RF, and then back to IR via a receiver, which shoots it at the target. This way, there is no need to 'point' the remote anywhere. I know of similar pieces of hardware which mimic the leapfrog on the web.

Bottom line:
If price is no object, buy the Pronto. No reason not to. However, if price does come into factor, you have to consider this as the option to go with. They are selling the Palm III for $199 now (see Add the software and the IR booster and you're up to $240. Compare that with the Pronto's $400 tag, and their maybe some re-thinking to do.

Also, there are SOOO many other things you can do with your Palm Pilot that you can't with the Pronto. Granted, if you use it only as a remote control, you may never go beyond the remote control software. However, the occasional trip somewhere when no one needs a remote at home could perhaps consist of using it for games, a GPS navigating system, a map of the US, checking email, and receiving pages. These are just some of the things that might come in handy down the line. The uses are endless. This was also another reason I chose the Palm.

But let's not forget the real reason why you are even taken the time to read this. For $240, the Palm Pilot is a damn good remote control which can perform similar, if not exact, functions as the dedicated remote control's which cost much more. It is a touch screen, learning remote with hard key buttons and macros. The entire layout is customizable to your specifications (names, size of buttons on screen, etc.)(see It definately should be considered as you shop for the best remote which fits your needs and price range.

For me, the Palm Pilot as a whole (price, versatility, etc.) is better than the Pronto. It does everything that the Pronto can do, and that's not even it's day job.

OP | Post 2 made on Sunday May 16, 1999 at 20:10
Daniel Tonks
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I think it's a bit inaccurate to say that the Palm Pilot "does everything the Pronto can do". More accurately, "it does everything a learning universal remote control can do". There's a difference there. If you're wondering what it is, just take a look at a few CCF files. :-)

It's more comparable functionally to the RM-AV2000 or RR990, but less pleasant to use. Yes, it has the capability to do a lot more than dedicated remote - but do you really want your remote control to balance your accounts?

OP | Post 3 made on Monday May 17, 1999 at 23:57
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You can get your PC to control your home theatre too, and have a wireless keyboard as the remote control. This way, you can edit your Word document, balance your bank balance, surf the web, let's the kids play games (with multiple windows)...and it's even more powerful than the Palm Pilot.

You can even save on buying a CD or DVD player because you can use the one in your computer.

OP | Post 4 made on Tuesday May 18, 1999 at 00:00
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Let's put aside what the Palm Pilot does best (organizer), and just focus on the remote control portion. The main reason why I purchased the Palm was for the remote control capabilities. Balancing my bank account will certainly be easier having purchase the Palm, not because of it's functionality, but because it's much less than the Pronto! :)

To put it in the same category as the Rotel and the Sony would be inaccurate. Before I purchased the Palm, I bought the Rotel. Very nice remote, but it was NOT customizable. Everything is hard coded from the buttons to the titles on the buttons. This is the same as the Sony as well. I don't know about for other people, but for me that is a MAJOR pain. Who wants to remember that the channel up key for their Home Theater really means THX mode? This is why the Palm is definately not in that category.

The other reason is that those remotes are not upgradable. No patches or enhancements can be 'downloaded' onto the unit. Another reason why the Palm should not be in that category.

As far as how pleasant the use goes, the Palm is definately easier to use over the Rotel, and the Sony! The Sony requires two hands to use, and is the size of a small laptop. The rotel is a nice size, but the problem there is that when compared to the Palm, is much heavier. The Palm was designed to be carried around and held in your hand for long periods of times. Also, the rotel touch screen is far inferior to the Palm's. The Rotel touch screen has physical areas (buttons) on the LCD screen which are activated with the slightest touch. The Palm's LCD does not have these areas. The entire screen is capable. And the Palm requires a slight point to initiate the button. Not like the Rotel, which is initiated every time you touch the screen. As far as the Omniremote interface, it can be totally customized, from the size of the button to the title of the button. You make the interface and remote so it is pleasant to your specifications.

I checked out the CCF files, and I must say...those are VERY cool. The Palm can't do that....YET. That is another reason why I believe the Palm is one of the best remotes. A new slick interface, has the possibility to be a download away.

The Palm Pilot certainly as it stands now, does not have the slick interface of the Pronto. But, functionally, it can do the same things. Yes the Pronto is easier for the average person to use, and more pleasant to work with. I don't argue with that one bit. I also don't argue that the Pronto is currently a better remote. All I'm saying is that the Palm can do everything you would want a remote to do and much more. Does it have all the bells and whistles of the Pronto? No, not yet. Will it? Maybe, maybe not, but it has the potential. But when you get down to the nuts and bolts of things, it will control your system as good as any other remote. And it will do it for a price which the wife won't have THAT hard of a time agreeing with...(once you convince her that it's not a remote control!)..another reason why I went with the Palm :)

OP | Post 5 made on Tuesday May 18, 1999 at 02:43
james chu
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what kind of hardware and software i need to turn wy palm into a remote and where i can buy them?
OP | Post 6 made on Tuesday May 18, 1999 at 22:54
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All information concerning the remote software/hardware can be found at
OP | Post 7 made on Thursday June 3, 1999 at 13:51
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First, I have to say thanks to PDD for presenting this to the group. I've been searching for a good universal remote for a while and all that time I didn't realize the power of the infrared on MY Palm Pilot. I haven't downloaded the software from the site yet, but if the posts here and on Pacificneotek are 90% accurate, then I already own the remote control I've been looking for. And it will organize my day (the reason I originally bought it)! I'll repost once I get the software.
OP | Post 8 made on Saturday June 5, 1999 at 23:24
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Glad to see someone else appreciate the remote capabilities of the Palm Pilot. I LOVE it. It does everything I want it to and more.

Anyways, for those Palm Pilot owners out there, I thought I would cool to trade .PDB files for the omni remote. These would be similar to the .CCF files that the pronto uses.

I'll offer mine as an example. I control my amp, pre-amp, Dolby Digital/DTS processor, CD, DVD, VCR, TV, Cable, and Laserdisc on my design. I have a main screen with macros to do common functions, and I also have a screen which lists my favorite TV channels, so I don't have to remember the exact channels.

If you want to check mine out, just e-mail me. However, if you install this, keep in mind that you will probably have to enter your user name and registration code again. So if you don't remember them, I wouldn't try it. If you just have the trial version, only the TV will work.
OP | Post 9 made on Saturday June 5, 1999 at 23:47
Historic Forum Post
Also, I would recommend the following product instead of the IR booster that Pacificneotek offers. It hooks onto a remote and converts the IR signals to RF, so that you can be anywhere in the house (100ft) and control your stereo.


I don't use this product but something similar. I use the Leapfrog, but it is discontinued.
OP | Post 10 made on Monday June 7, 1999 at 07:21
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I,m not familiar with the palm pilot (believe it or not) so when I went to cnet, I didn't know what to look at. There were so many different ones. Now I'm really confused. I thought that I had it down to the SL9000 & RR990, but you have said that it is much better than those. What actually should I look for in a Palm Pilot and does the software come with it or do I have to get that somewhere else? Please HELP!!!
OP | Post 11 made on Monday June 7, 1999 at 17:16
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Thanks to PPD for the imformation on the Palm Pilot as a remote control.I have a few questions about the Omni remote.1)How many screens did it take to cover a fairly large device completely.2)Did you use all 15 screens for the devices you mentioned in your post.3)How much Palm Pilot memory did the remote portion use.4)How would you rate the ease of use in operation of the remote.How long did it take you to program all of your devices into the Palm Pilot.Thanks again for your open minded acessment of the Palm Pilot as a universial remote control.
OP | Post 12 made on Monday June 7, 1999 at 21:33
Mauricio Freitas
Historic Forum Post

I tried the Pacific Neotek's program... Problem is that to be useful we need to enhance the IR of Palm Pilot... In my case, my Palm is set to lock after 04:00AM. Sometimes I'm using another application. So, turning it on, changing applications is painful (unless you load a hack, but then you can compromise the stability of your Palm Pilot)...

I'd love to get a dedicated Universal RC... And may be I get one soon!
OP | Post 13 made on Tuesday June 8, 1999 at 09:31
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Another thing worth mentioning is that if you buy the IR extender from Pacific Neo-Tech you do not need to have one of the newer palm units. Guess what you can pick on eBay for < $50 (older used pilots). Suddenly you can get a very reasonable remote for < $90 ($40 for IR extender and software). I ended up doing this after playing with my pilot for a while as a remote, but I did not like using it as my remote as I did not trust my 2 yr old with it. Now my investment is lower and I have little fear.

btw you can fill up the rest of the pilot's memory with some nice games or even set it up so that a hot sync will have todays T.V. listings (btw can a Pronto do that :-)
OP | Post 14 made on Tuesday June 8, 1999 at 18:34
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Brian: If you read the LONG first message I posted, it will tell you everything you need to know about the Palm Pilot, and where to get it. I would recommend buying the Palm III for roughly $165.

1)To cover a fairly large device with buttons that aren't the size of a rice krispie, it took me two screens. For instance, the TV: the first screen had all the numbers, channel changer, and volume, on it, and then the next screen had the menu function (up, down, enter, last, etc.).

2) I have used 12 of the 15. Hopefully, in the next release there will be unlimited screens.

3)My Palm takes about 100k of memory for the omni-remote.

4)The ease of use is very good. Much better that the Rotel 990 because you can program the physical buttons to those buttons you use most often(ie channel up, down, power, volume). Never had a Pronto, but I would suspect it is slightly less easy to use than that.

The programming took a while to do. You have to design it from scratch. That was a pain, I must say. But the end result is YOUR design, which is pretty cool. And for those that want a default to mess with, just e-mail me :)

My two recommendations are 1)Read my first message. I know it is long and winded, but if you want to know the abilities of the Palm, It is pretty much all there. 2) If you are going to use the Palm as remote, don't use it as your main organizer. It's not pratical for it to be both. Use it as your entertainment controller. Have it control your entertainment sytem, your lights (X-10), and also have it hold cool databases. I have the Palm bar on it (100 different mix drinks), trivia questions, etc., etc.
OP | Post 15 made on Friday June 11, 1999 at 22:57
Jeff James
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Where are you finding the Pilot III for $165?
I think you may of talked me out of the Pronto :-)

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