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What's new for Friday September 10, 2004...
(Return to the September 2004 news index...)
Preview of new Philips remote – and it’s not a Pronto!
Philips RC9800i
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In a break from Philips’ normal “Pronto” branding of advanced remote controls, the company will be releasing a completely new RC9800i activity-based model under the Philips “Home Control” and “Connected Planet” labels. Here’s an early pre-CEDIA preview:

The new 802.11b WiFi-enabled RC9800i is a compact, technically advanced remote that comes with a landscape-oriented 3.5” 65,536 color TFT touchscreen LCD display with 320x240 resolution, 32mb RAM and 32mb flash, plus rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery with cradle. It also features USB connectivity, activity-style shortcuts, photo preview mode, MP3 audio preview (PC/Mac-based media manager software included), television program listings (with automatic network-based updates) and much more.

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Philips RC9800i
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On the remote site it supports a multi-room/device/activity structure, on-remote on-screen setup wizard, UPnP and IR compatibility, macros, code learning, a built-in preprogrammed code database, software upgradeability, plus hard buttons for channel up/down, volume up/down and mute, 5-way cursor and several others.

Interestingly, Philips is not planning on offering any PC programming capabilities for the RC9800i, instead everything will be done directly on the remote. The RC9800i is expected to be available in limited quantities near the end of 2004, with general availability in Europe and North America by January 2005. Pricing was not yet available, but more information can be found at http://www.homecontrol.philips.com.

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[ Talk about the Philips RC9800i! ]


Preview of new URC remotes!
Universal Remote Control Inc. is launching a new “Custom Line” of remote controls at this year’s CEDIA, a line that will incorporate the already available Home Theater Master MX-3000 color touchscreen remote. What’s news, however, are four new models: The Aurora, The Orion, The Omega and The Osiris. While the latter three models in this “vowel series” are based on the Home Theater Master MX-800, MX-600 and “Consumer Series” URC-200, respectively, the Aurora is a completely new design. The new series appears targeted to consumers who will be having a custom home theater or whole home installation performed, similar to the Home Theater Master line.

What follows is an early pre-CEDIA preview – more details will be released as they become come!

URC Aurora
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The new $599 Aurora, reportedly available in the first quarter of 2005, appears to be URC’s first foray into the activity-based remote concept. It is styled along the lines of the MX-3000 and comes with a LCD display (listed as 256-color?) that can hold up to 11 character descriptions of activities and special commands. Its extensive memory can hold up to 255 devices with 255 pages and nearly unlimited macros and favorite channels – and it’s programmed via PC. It also ships complete with a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, like the MX-3000, plus routable RF/IR control via an optional base station. Dimensions are approximately 9 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 inch high (smaller than the MX-500 series).

URC Orion
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The Orion is much like an MX-800 merged with several of the MX-3000’s more distinctive styling cues. It can control up to 20 devices, has 50 favorite channel macros, is computer programmable and again RF capable, but comes with white backlighting.

The Omega is similar to the MX-600 (but looks identical to an Orion in silver): it’s programmed stand alone but can still control up to 20 devices and also comes with RF capabilities and white backlighting. Finally, the $149 Osiris is nearly identical to the URC-200 in that it can control up to 10 devices and comes with 40 favorite channel macros and blue backlighting, but it also has routable RF and more.

All of these remotes will be usable with the new MRF-300 Multi-Zone Base Station, which allows for up to three separate antenna locations throughout your house. The tiny RFX-150 antennas can be placed almost anywhere and will relay RF signals from the remote to the main MRF-300 station. The station also comes with (gasp) standard 3.5mm IR output jacks! Or, opt for the MRF-250 Single Zone Base Station with integrated antenna (like URC’s current stations).

[ Talk about URC's new remotes! ]


Stay tuned for more details, CEDIA show photos and our famous CEDIA video!

This news report was updated on May 18, 2006.