...Continued from Page 1.|
After the original 1 megabyte Pronto TS-1000, Philips continued to expand their product offerings with the nearly identical Marantz RC5000. Next came the Pronto TSU2000 and Marantz RC5000i, which basically doubled the amount of internal memory, followed closely by the Yamaha RAV-2000 and Onkyo CHAD. Later the company released the high-end 8 megabyte ProntoPro TSU6000, which added color and a few additional advanced features. Soon after the color Marantz RC9200 and the black and white RC5200 were produced, both adding numerous hard buttons.
Although the ProntoNEO TSU500 (an economical version of the Pronto) didn’t go over nearly as well as the original unit, Philips nevertheless forged ahead in developing the next generation of mid-priced Pronto to succeed the TSU2000... or, as it was ultimately called, the “Pronto Next Generation TSU3000”!
But is the novel Pronto NG TSU3000 worthy of its futuristic name and illustrious heritage? Read on to see!
Starting from a clean slate.
The original Pronto’s uncanny physical resemblance to a PDA went further than skin deep, as the TS-1000 made use of a Motorola Dragonball processor – just like the first Palm Pilots. Philips continued to employ various Dragonball CPUs until the ProntoNEO TSU500, where they switched to a completely new and (unfortunately) less capable hardware platform.
Although there was still sufficient life left in Motorola’s CPU family to support future black and white and TFT color Pronto models, for the TSU3000 Philips opted to continue developing the new platform and switched to a Mitsubishi CPU offering. So, one could almost call the TSU3000 a “ProntoNEO Deluxe”... but let’s not do that!
The problem with changing platforms in this manner is that everything has to be redeveloped from the ground up. So, the Pronto and ProntoEdit features that everyone knew and loved all had to be rewritten from scratch. As we’ll learn in this review, some items present on the TS-1000 haven’t yet been recreated in the TSU3000. Still, the inconvenience of starting with a clean slate will eventually lead to greater capabilities and an overall better product. With the numerous changes made to the Pronto’s source code over the years, Philips was finding it difficult to maintain stability. This time the programmers were able to plan everything they needed ahead of time and, although the TSU3000 did get off to a rocky start, it all seems to be working out.
The 4 megabyte TSU3000 retails at the same price point as the 2 megabyte model it replaces, $399 USD, although it can be found for less if you search online. The version sold in Europe and overseas is called the SBC-RU950 and is functionally identical to the North American TSU3000. The only differences are the RF frequency (to comply with European standards), the built-in code database (includes European-specific brands and functions) and the default configuration file (adds commands such as TeleText).