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|Logitech / Intrigue
Although Intrigue Technologies was recently purchased by Logitech – yes, the company known best for mice and other computer accessories – the new remote control division is still being run as a separate division and is currently pretty much unchanged. Also unchanged is the furious rate at which they continue to come up with great remote control designs!
The most recent Harmony remote, the H688, uses a special button design that has turned out to be a “love it” or “hate it” proposition. Harmony’s latest design, the H676, is functionally identical to the H688 but utilizes a more standard type of button, closer to the H659 which was introduced before the H688. Exactly how Harmony remotes are given their model numbers is still a bit of a mystery.
This new model has keys, keys and more keys – there’s a total of 55 of them in what seems to be an excellent arrangement. Like all recent Harmony remotes it also has a small LCD screen surrounded by six custom labelled buttons, full backlighting and an activity-based concept utilizing Smart State Technology. New to the H676 are more DVR-specific keys, a brand new menu cursor control and changeable color faceplates – pick from three colors to customize the black body.
Also displayed at the show was the H680, an all-silver version of the H676 with the same basic key layout but different function assignments. Compared to the H676, the transport functions above the 5-way cursor have been swapped with the menu functions around the cursor. Those menu functions also have slightly different names – more customized to work with Media Center PCs, although there’s no reason why the H680 can’t also be used with a traditional home theater system. Finally, the H680’s keys are finished with a hard glossy coating (like the H659), while the H676 keys are uncoated matte rubber.
Wandering around Marantz’ expansive booth, I eventually happened upon the new RC9500 remote control – basically the Marantz version of the Philips ProntoPro NG TSU7000. Although it has a much shorter name, the remote nonetheless includes all the Pronto’s features: a full color TFT display with 65,000 colors, USB connection, pickup sensor and rechargeable NiMH battery. Unlike previous Marantz remotes the RC9500 does not include the RF extender – the RX-77 is an optional accessory – and unlike the TSU7000 the RC9500 comes with 48mb of memory instead of 32mb.
The remote can be programmed on a computer with the “Wizz.it9” software (they somehow keep managing to make the software name worse). Features include PNG and alpha transparency support, page jump history, an “Instant Surf” button, 15 programmable hard buttons, page up/down keys and more.
The Marantz press release was, however, less than fully accurate. The suggested retail price is listed as both $1099 and $1199, and the remote is said to use a DragonBall MC68328 processor (the CPU used on the first Pronto remote 6 years ago).