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Three New Remotes at CEDIA
Plus details of the European Pronto
Posted by Daniel Tonks on September 20, 1999 at 1:00 AM
RC News Story
CEDIA: As some of you may know, the CEDIA Expo (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) is being held this week in Indianapolis. Though I myself won't be able to attend, I have it on good word that at least three brand new LCD remotes will be exhibited. Some will not be available until next year, however I know of at least one that will be out before Christmas. I have a few spotters who promise to keep an eye out for appropriate products, but by all means if you go and see something that would be of interest please make a note of it!

I've been in contact with a few manufacturers regarding their upcoming remote products and hope to have lots of information to post in the next few weeks. I'll be reviewing these remotes as they are released on the market (earlier, where possible).

Now, many of the leads I get are provided courtesy of helpful visitors that happen to spot a new product while browsing the web, or when reading one of the many H/T-related magazines. I called a few "new" companies and after mentioning who I was and where I was from they immediately recognized me. Which is odd, since I'd never heard of -- or from -- them. Most were interested in having their products covered as soon as possible. So, an open invitation to everyone else: if you represent a manufacturer of consumer electronics devices and would like to see one of your products on Remote Central don't sit on the sidelines: drop me a line -- I'd like to hear from you!

DVD Review: My in-depth look at The Prince of Egypt's amazing new special-edition DVD release from Dreamworks. You can't miss this one!

Contest: Don't miss September's contest here at Remote Central. AVsmarts.com is sponsoring a Panasonic Gigarange cordless phone with caller ID and answering machine - a $240 value! Enter today!

European Pronto: Yes, it seems as if the new silver-colored European Pronto is now shipping across Europe. Philips now has a special version of ProntoEdit up on their site, giving the rest of us a preview of a few new features.

  • The new ProntoEdit version is 1.04b2, an update from the current 1.03. The firmware used in the emulator has application version 4.8b13t, dated September 10th. No update file is provided for other Pronto owners, though Philips promises one shortly.

  • The clock is now configurable between 12 and 24 hour time. It can also be disabled. While in the Home screen, it displays the current day.

  • Pronto Timer Screen The day, you say? What purpose would that have besides... for timers? Yup! Though they are only configurable via ProntoEdit, a new option available on a button's property screen is TIMER. When you press that a window opens with configuration options for the start action (an alias to another macro), what time to run it on (in 24-hour format) and on what days. An identical set of options is provided for a stop (or end) command.

    While in the Pronto, when you activate a button containing a timer it plays a low beep that signifies that the timer is now enabled. There does not seem to be any way to disable a timer that has already started or see which one(s) are currently running in the background. When the pre-determined time arrives an alarm clock logo appears at the top of the screen and the macro runs. No word yet on how many active timers can be kept running at the same time, or what impact this has on overall performance.

    This new feature's usefulness in such an early state is quite limited. I'd like to see options to view currently running timers, cancel a timer after it has started and -- most importantly -- enter start and stop information directly on the remote. Also, as you must enter a hard time you cannot have a timer that runs "in 5 minutes", a slightly different variation that I would also like to see.

  • Pronto Sound Screen Another new feature is sound, added via the BEEP button which is just above the timer function. You can select the frequency (between 200 and 10,000Hz), the duty cycle (better known as "volume", in percent) and the duration (length, between 0 and 2550 milliseconds). I haven't been able to get this function working correctly on the emulator and as I don't have matching firmware it will not work on my own Pronto. I can just see new galleries full of music and little tones to accompany macros or even everyday buttons!
As mentioned above, no update file is included with this version of ProntoEdit, meaning that the rest of us Pronto and Marantz RC5000 owners can't flash our remote to add this new functionality. Such an update is promised, however I have no information on when it will be released.

Marantz (or Pronto) & CCF files with hidden panels: There have been a lot of messages lately with people describing a problem where a download CCF file, when loaded into RC5000 Setup or the physical remote, gives a "corrupt or not valid CCF file" error message. The answer to this question can be found on our RC5000 FAQ, question number 7: "How can I use hidden panels with the RC5000?". If you are seeing this problem on the Pronto, all you need to do is download the latest version of ProntoEdit and use the TOOLS | UPDATE PRONTO menu option.

CCF files: Three new Pronto/RC5000 system CCF files from Charles Dupont, James Akins and Todd Derr are now available in the File Archives.

Whew! That's a long update for one day. I'll be away for two or three days starting Tuesday, so I won't be able to respond to email or forum posts. If something breaks by all means email me, however I won't be able to do anything about it until I get back. Thanks for understanding, and I hope you all have a great week.

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