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Of course, the Pronto's main attraction is its large backlit LCD screen. The screen features the highest available resolution in its class, at 240 by 320 pixels, just like many PDAs. The display opening measures 2.3" wide by 3.1" high (5.8cm by 7.9cm) with a 3.8" (9.6cm) diagonal dimension. The region available for displaying data is 2.2" by 3.0" (5.6 by 7.6cm), creating an effective resolution of 110 DPI in both directions. It seems that very few LCD remotes actually have "square" pixels - some are as much as 37% off in one direction. From a designing standpoint, it's nice to have a circle display as a circle without undue fiddling.
The LCD display is backlit with an aqua blue electroluminescent (EL) panel that remains the same brightness as the original TS-1000 and is a match for many other current remotes. If anything, the new TSU2000's backlight is slightly bluer than the original, a change most would agree is desirable. From a contrast standpoint, the TSU2000's screen doesn't have as high a ratio as my original TS-1000 sample, appearing somewhat bluer, despite assurances that Philips has returned to their original source for screens, Samsung.
Why the concern? Well, during the early part of 2000 when LCDs were becoming scarce due to such factors as the popularity of the Palm Pilot, Philips located other LCD sources. Unfortunately, many of those alternate screens looked far different from the original - lower contrast ratios and dimmer or off-color backlighting. Which screen your remote received depended solely on luck-of-the-draw. This problem has since been corrected, though the TSU2000 either uses a new model LCD or Samsung has merely changed specifications.
It appears that multi-shaded LCD screens suffer from weaker contrast ratios than single-color ones, simply due to technology. The Pronto's LCD can display four shades, however they are very difficult to use with any effectiveness. By the time the contrast ratio is set so that "light gray" is distinguishable from "white", "dark gray" is nearly identical to "black". There is an almost perfect position on the contrast dial - where all four shades are unique - however the screen tends to "warm up" after time, growing darker the longer it's on or held in a hot hand. This makes the wheel a very necessary item, unless you are fortunate to locate a "universal" setting that provides good contrast under almost all conditions… after which someone else will probably muddle it up.
The two lower hard buttons are unlit and molded in a solid slate gray color, while the right-side buttons are translucent white, backlit with yellow LEDs. The right-side buttons are small and round, but do feature either concave or convex shapes on the top to aid in figuring out which is which. Backlighting is good, but since the actual label isn't lit you need to remember which is for volume or channels.
The Pronto TS-1000's Light Sensor.
One item that's been missing from the Pronto since the beginning of 2000 is the light sensor. Originally positioned at the top right of the remote, it was dropped because of European environmental regulations which banned a substance that the sensor contained in trace amounts. The light sensor was used to automatically activate the backlight when ambient lighting conditions reached a level customized by the user. The loss of this item should be of no concern as it was seldom used - most people found the Pronto so much more enjoyable to use with the backlight active at all times. Combine the remote with the rechargeable battery pack, and there's absolutely no reason to save power by not using the light.