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Yellow stars, blue diamonds, purple buttons...
Naturally, the center ring event for the ProntoPro is the new 256-color screen. Measuring 3.7" diagonally (9.4cm) with a 2.2" wide and 2.9" high opening (5.6cm by 7.4cm), the screen is actually slightly smaller than the TSU2000, at 3.8" diagonal (9.7cm) with a 2.3" by 3.1" opening (5.9cm by 7.9cm). When the actual active screen size is compared, the ProntoPro comes in at 3.6" (9.2cm) while the TSU2000 shapes up to 3.7" (9.4cm). Since both share the same effective resolution - 240 by 320 pixels - the ProntoPro calculates to 113dpi (dots, or pixels, per inch); the TSU2000 to 108dpi.
The Achilles' heel for the original Pronto is its black and white screen - or, put more accurately, green and darker green. Unlike most two-color LCD screens, the four-shade version used on the Pronto TS-1000 and TSU2000 has difficulty generating strong contrast levels. Thus it is often quite difficult to see in moderate lighting levels, when there isn't enough ambient light to view sans backlight, but still too much for the backlight to be of any benefit. Also, since the contrast level fluxed according to the remote's temperature level (which was influenced by hot hands), users often fiddled with the contrast dial to maintain a legible image.
Since the ProntoPro uses a "passive matrix FSTN" screen (as opposed to "active matrix TFT"), a contrast dial remains on the side. But wait until you see it - what an absolutely incredible difference the new screen makes! Not only is having color breathtaking from an aesthetic standpoint, but the bright paper-white background makes the screen much easier to see than the old aqua green. The display is perfectly legible under almost all lighting conditions, from completely dark to fairly bright. Although it doesn't do well under full sunlight or excessively bright rooms, neither do most color LCDs. The screen's surface is treated with an excellent anti-glare coating that, while significantly reducing reflections, seems to have the side effect of highlighting its collection of fingerprints. Fortunately, they virtually disappear when the display is activated.
As this is a passive screen, a moderate amount of smearing and mottling of solid colors is evidenced, appearing much worse if the contrast level is too low. This is due to how pixels are accessed, which is on a grid (think of Battleship), rather than one-at-a-time. However, utilizing an active matrix screen - where this is not an issue - would have increased battery consumption and, more importantly, the final cost. No temperature-related contrast drift is apparent, nor does the backlight "buzz" like the TSU2000. Despite the marginally smaller physical dimensions, the ProntoPro's display blows away the TSU2000's in almost every regard - even perceived size. The only exception is the viewing angle, which is excellent horizontally but somewhat restricted vertically.
Shaping the past...
Much as the New Beetle is recognizable as a modernized version of its classic predecessor, the ProntoPro's contemporary styling heralds the past though a number of smaller flourishes: the curve of the infrared emitter shield; the sleek design of its case; the button groupings. Place a ProntoPro next to its older cousin and you'll see how far Philips has taken the design.
Physically, the new ProntoPro measures 3.6" wide, 5.5" long and 1.3" high (9.2cm by 14.0cm by 3.3cm). Overall, it has a slightly larger footprint but is also marginally thinner. In terms of weight, the new model weighs in at a mere 9.0 oz (255gr) with batteries - 7.5 oz (205gr) without. While the TSU2000's case is a blue or silver monotone, the ProntoPro's new tri-toned motif fashions a black base with a silver (perhaps they call it "platinum") face, complemented by a charcoal gray bezel surrounding the LCD screen. These colors not only look sharp, but almost mimic the Pronto's original display palette.