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The docking station’s main connector is an unusual latching design just like the ProntoPro. Instead of merely plopping the Pronto quickly onto the station, it’s necessary to attach the many-pinned connector at a 45 degree angle before lowering the remote’s front. Once latched, the TSU3000 must be similarly raised before detaching. I was initially concerned about the long term life and fragility of the connector, but as no issues have yet been reported with the ProntoPro it would appear to be robust enough.
It’s disappointing that AAA batteries are used instead of normal AA ones. Although AAA batteries offer several benefits, such as lighter weight and a theoretically thinner design (by one-seventh of an inch; only several millimeters), they aren’t nearly as capable as their AA brethren where it really counts – holding power. For example, the rechargeable NiMH battery pack that comes with the docking station offers 600mAH of power. The highest rating I’ve seen for NiMH AA batteries is 2300mAH, quite a bit more capacity which would allow the remote to run that much longer between charges. In terms of thickness, remember that much of the original Pronto’s depth was ergonomic sculpting and not necessitated by the internal components. At one point the TS-1000 measures less than 1.2” (3.0cm) thick with screen, circuit board and AA batteries all sandwiched together.
It’s not green!
Backlighting is supplied by two electroluminescent (EL) panels – an “ultra blue” panel for behind the LCD screen, and a “blue” panel for the bezel and hard buttons. Although the silver colored buttons aren’t transparent, the backlight shines around their edges and also illuminates their printed symbols.
The light sensor at the top of the remote is used to automatically activate the backlighting whenever ambient levels drop below a certain point. One of the setup screens on the remote displays the current light level along with an adjustment marker. If the level is shown to the left of the marker the backlight will always activate along with the remote, but if the level is to the right the light will only switch on when the backlight button is pressed. The LCD and backlight feature separate power off timers, each of which can be configured from 3 to 240 seconds (4 minutes). The light can also be set to “always on” (the same as moving the marker to the far right). As a finishing touch, the backlighting fades off smoothly.
Although the electroluminescent panels used are described as “blue” and “ultra blue”, neither of them could truly be considered such – at least not in comparison to some of the really blue backlights out there. I’d call the TSU3000 “aqua blue”, but it’s better than the TSU2000’s markedly green complexion. The new backlight is brighter than former models, a welcome relief to the eyes.
Easier to see.
Contrast levels have also fared well, quite a feat considering that LCD screens usually lose contrast with the addition of more greyshades. However, the principal visual improvement comes simply from the addition of four times as many greyshades for greatly enhanced legibility. Also, where the original Pronto had difficulty finding a screen setting where light grey looked different from white and dark grey looked different from black, the TSU3000 proudly shows off all 16 of its shades, from lightest to darkest.