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Pronto Gains Timers
Posted by Daniel Tonks on September 29, 1999 at 1:00 AM
RC News Story
Contests: These are the last few days to get your contest entry in to win a Panasonic Gigarange cordless phone with caller ID and answering machine, sponsored by the good folks at AVsmarts.com. We'll also have a brand new contest this Friday!

TiVo.com is offering a 14-hour Philips Personal TV Receiver and three months of TiVo Personal TV Service for the most innovative and interesting Pronto CCF file that controls the TiVo. Full details including IR codes and contest rules can be found on their web site.

Home Theater Master MX-1000: Universal Remote Inc. is currently enhancing their soon-to-be-released touchscreen remote with a new LCD screen featuring better contrast and higher resolution. Expect the product to be available around the end of October. I hope to receive photographs and other detailed information in the next few days.

Pronto development: At last week's CEDIA convention the Pronto managed to walk away with the Best Home Automation Product award -- it was a runner-up for the same award at last years show. Congratulations!

I have a fair bit of news on a new ProntoEdit version, which some of you may have previewed via the European software downloadable from Philips' web site. Version 1.04 for the North American model should be posted within the next two weeks. It will include a firmware update that adds new beep and timer functions to the Pronto, as mentioned on my September 20th news update.

Pronto Timer Screen There's a correction to part of that news update: you can add/edit timers directly on the remote, albeit only from the Macro Menu. When designating a new macro group you must select, under the properties screen, the "Is TimerGroup" option. This is done the same way you designate that a particular panel is hidden. Then, on the remote and in the Macro menu, change to the new timer macro group. Enter "Edit" mode and select a button. You'll see a screen with all of the "Start Timer" functions, including what time and day to run on. Another screen holds the "Stop" commands. While on these screens you may also navigate the remote and select the button you would like the timer to operate, however you may only select ONE command for each Start and Stop timer. Your timer may point to a macro button if you need to run a series of commands.

I can see where users would want to create a hidden panel full of macros for use on timers, however the problem is that while in Macro Edit mode you cannot access these panels. You can get around this is by PRE-DEFINING all of your timers in ProntoEdit. You can then edit the start and stop times to your liking on the remote, maintaining your link to the hidden button.

One thing I mentioned to Philips that I hope is acted upon is the creation of a "CCF Version Converter" that can take a CCF file and strip out any incompatible portions of it for use on other not-as-yet-updated models. Those of you with the Marantz RC5000 trying to load files with hidden panels would have appreciated this.

What prompted this suggestion was the news that the Marantz RC5000 will not be updated to include timer functions. While many users may not see a problem with this, it essentially means that any CCF file that includes a timer function would be classified as "corrupt" by the RC5000. The ability to strip any incompatible elements out of a CCF would help ensure that all Pronto-like remote users can still trade configurations.

On news of firmware updates, I learned that the silver European Pronto is also not compatible with firmware updates for the North American model. This essentially means there are now three distinct products to keep up-to-date. Even more use for a conversion utility!

On better news, Philips will be bringing in a limited number of North American spec'd silver-colored Prontos for a test run in the States. If it sells well they may become an official color choice. Even better news is that the forthcoming firmware update will include new support for high-frequency devices. That means you'll be able to learn codes from Bang & Olufsen, Electrohome, Kenwood and Pioneer Elite; however I could not confirm that all of these will be fully functional upon official release.

On future additions, Philips is reportedly putting the finishing touches on an IR Database file containing IR signals for a large number of components. At last! The grapevine suggests that it may first become available on a product referred to as "Pronto 2000". You heard it here first!

CCF Files: There's a new CCF file from Conrad Jacobson and an updated file by Will Cunningham.

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