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When the Pronto was first developed, Philips owned Marantz. At the time, the Marantz version of the Pronto was known as the RC5000 and was considered the higher-end version – it offered a 3 year warranty instead of 1 year and came by default with the optional docking station. Otherwise, the hardware and feature set was identical. Later, when Philips started adding new features to the Pronto, the two remote lines began to polarize, with items added to the RC5000 unavailable on the Pronto and vice versa. Famous examples of “exclusive” features include the Pronto’s built-in code database, timers and beeps, or the RC5000’s multiple page jumps and page browsing history.
Although Philips and Marantz have since parted ways, the two companies continue to concurrently release separate versions of the Pronto remote. And, even though most of those originally model-specific features have since been added to both Philips and Marantz versions of the Pronto NG, they both continue to find unique ways to differentiate themselves.
The RC9500 retails for $1099 USD MSRP, just $100 more than the Philips TSU7000. For that extra cost the RC9500 offers tangible additions over the ProntoPro NG: there’s triple the warranty at 3 years, plus 50% more memory with 48mb in total. The RC9500 also incorporates a completely different physical design and dedicated PC editing software. The RC9500’s new price does work out to $200 cheaper than the older RC9200 (parallel model to the passive matrix color TSU6000), but the RC9500 no longer comes with the RX-77 RF extender, something that now sells for $169 by itself.
A distinct look.
Even placed next to each other, there’s nothing obvious in the RC9500’s appearance to indicate that it and the TSU7000 are nearly identical beneath the surface. The top half of the RC9500’s case is quite rectangular, but it rounds off to a perfect semicircle on the bottom. The vertical sides of the remote curve smoothly around to the back, creating a shape that’s comfortable to grip.
A dark plastic piece printed with the Marantz name encircles the screen and curves around the front edge of the remote to shield the four infrared emitters. The rounded bottom of the RC9500 features a docking station connector identical to the TSU7000 (although in a different position), while the left side boasts individual [Page Up], [Page Down] and [Backlight] buttons along with a standard Mini USB connector. Most of the remote’s back is occupied by a battery compartment door with a standard pull-lever latching design. The door also has a slight concave indentation on it, similar to the TSU7000’s groove. There are no rubber feet on the back.
The RC9500 is slightly larger than the TSU7000, measuring 3.6” wide, 6.0” long and 1.3” thick (9.0cm by 15.3cm by 3.3cm). It weighs 9.0 ounces (256 grams) with batteries, or 7.2 ounces (204 grams) without. The bundled DS9500 docking station is similar to the TSU7000’s DS7000, but with a more curvaceous form designed to compliment the RC9500’s shape. It’s painted a platinum color to match a decorative band on the remote’s case, and measures 6.6” long, 4.7” wide and 1.5” thick (16.8 cm by 12.0 cm by 3.8cm). One feature absent on the DS9500 is a permanent passthrough USB port, possibly a nod to the RC9500’s primarily custom installer market where the end user will likely not be the one programming the remote. Or it could just be that the RC9500’s repositioned USB port isn’t blocked while docked...