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Philips ProntoPro TSU6000 Review
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ProntoProEdit .CCF files contain everything needed for a configuration - layouts, bitmaps, macros and infrared codes - making them ideally suited for sharing over the Internet. ProntoProEdit is fully capable of saving multiple files, however it still isn't capable of having more than one file open at a time. Files can be merged into another, but panels or devices from one can't be quickly copied to the next. As ProntoProEdit doesn't use the Windows clipboard, two open sessions of the package aren't aware of each other and nothing can be copied between them. Fortunately, the ProntoProEdit clipboard maintains its contents between multiple files, so it is possible to swap data via that method.

Philips ProntoPro TSU6000
Click to enlarge. (73kb)
A new feature, "Pack and Go", allows ProntoPro remote owners without ProntoProEdit to download configurations to their remote. A standalone executable file that automatically downloads the file is generated and can be run on any Windows-based computer. This could be useful for custom installers who want to send out self-installing file updates to their customers.

Communications - the bottleneck is gone!
Downloading a file to the ProntoPro is a simple matter since you don't need to set the physical remote into any sort of "communications" mode - it's always ready to receive or transmit a file and is controlled completely by the computer. I was disappointed to learn that Philips stuck with the same RS232 serial interface as on the first Pronto and didn't upgrade to USB. The original remote's maximum file size was 380kb - more than acceptable for a serial port. The Pronto TSU2000 came in at 960kb... now things were starting to get slow. Any user that actually used up all 1404kb of available space on the Marantz RC5000i or Pronto RU940 had a long transfer wait ahead of them - serial ports simply aren't that fast. A test with an actual 940kb file download to a TSU2000 took 123 seconds (2 minutes, 3 seconds - 7.8kb/sec).

Initially, I felt that putting the same serial port on a remote with a maximum file size of 6144kb would have been detrimental - even at the full theoretical data rate of 115200 baud (that's 14.4kb/sec), you're looking at a download time of 7 minutes! At the more realistic data rate posted above, it's over 13 minutes.

Notice that I used the word "initially"? Well, as manager of the Pronto file archive here on Remote Central, I'm well aware that CCF files compress exceedingly well - up to 80% smaller than their original size. Philips also seems to have picked up on this trend and is now using it to their benefit. Before downloading to the remote, all CCF files are compressed. Once the file is over on the remote, it's decompressed. This may result in longer processing time on the ProntoPro's side, but it speeds up the communications bottleneck.

Philips ProntoPro TSU6000
Click to enlarge. (54kb)
So, I conducted another test with a 960kb file for the ProntoPro. This time, the transfer took only 28 seconds. 28 seconds! That's the equivalent of 34.3kb/sec - 340% faster than before! A test with an actual 6144kb file (man, does ProntoProEdit ever get slow!) took only 189 seconds to transfer. By comparison, the file took more than that amount of time just to save to disk.

Now, I'm still steadfast on wanting a USB port - imagine combining that fast interface with this new compression scheme! You'd have nearly instantaneous transfers. But, Philips was concerned over legacy computer users who may not have USB ports. That's all and well, but there's also a whole new generation of computers out there that don't have serial ports. At some point the serial interface will be dropped completely, much like the old ISA bus and 5.25" floppy disks.

The ProntoPro's high-gloss box includes the remote, the DS6000 docking station, an AC/DC converter, a 9-pin serial cable, ProntoProEdit on CD, a much improved user manual, promotional brochure, plus a warranty registration card.

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