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The ProntoPro NG has been designed to use the bundled rechargeable NiMH battery pack, which plugs into a special connector inside the battery compartment. No provision is included for the use of regular AAA batteries. The battery is recharged while in the remote via the included DS7000 docking station. The station is painted the same sparkly black as the remote and measures 5.0Ē wide, 6.4Ē long and 1.1Ē thick (12.8cm by 16.3cm by 2.8cm). On the back are a DC power-in connector and USB passthrough jack that can be used to connect the TSU7000 to a computer while docked in the station. A shiny black strip that runs along the top of the station hides two vibrant blue LEDs that illuminate when the remote is charging, or flash if thereís a problem.
When the TSU3000 first shipped its battery life was abysmal Ė the docking station wasnít so much an optional accessory as an optional necessity. Although its battery life did eventually improve with firmware updates, the TSU7000 uses a similar battery pack but at a much higher draw, so its battery life should be counted in days of use rather than weeks or months of use.
Part of this runtime shortcoming could be explained by the decision to use AAA batteries instead of AA batteries. Sure, AAA batteries are thinner and lighter, but they also hold less than half the energy of AA batteries. The ProntoPro NG first shipped with an underpowered 600mAH battery pack, but current TSU7000s ship with a 700mAH pack that seems almost twice as good as the older 600mAH version. Nonetheless, several enterprising individuals have already begun to sell third-party packs that use 900mAH and 1000mAH cells Ė thatís a lot more energy, and Philips should really take note. Even so, AA batteries are now available up to 2600mAH, a value thatís grown by 300mAH since I wrote the TSU3000 review a short while ago. Itís obvious where the real development in NiMH batteries lies, and it isnít with AAA cells.
The docking stationís main connector is an unusual latching design: instead of merely placing the Pronto quickly onto the station, itís necessary to attach the many-pinned connector at a 45 degree angle before lowering the remoteís front. Once latched, the TSU7000 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 been reported for the years that this design has been used, itís proven to be robust, if awkward.
The station manages to make recharging Ė something that could seem to be an inconvenience Ė feel rather... convenient. Just slide the remote onto the station every couple of days and enjoy! As NiMH batteries donít have a memory problem like NiCads, no ill effects will occur by recharging often Ė indeed I have original Pronto packs from 1998 that are still going strong.
Let your screen shine bright.
Modern active matrix (TFT) screens like the one used in the TSU7000 are significantly better than the antiquated passive matrix variety as was used in the TSU6000. TFT screens are brighter, sharper, can display more colors and, most importantly, donít require any contrast adjustment as theyíre not affected by temperature.
On side-by-side comparisons of the TSU7000 and TSU6000, the TSU7000ís screen is far brighter, doesnít exhibit any smearing, and shows true whites instead of dim yellowy whites. The difference 65,000 versus 256 colors makes is amazing. Compared to the TSU3000ís screen... well, there simply is no comparison. The TSU3000ís 16-shade display is about as good as itís going to get for that technology, but switching to the TSU7000 is a sight for sore eyes. The display may not flaunt colors quite as vibrant as the most advanced screens used on todayís top PDAs, but itís the absolute best ever seen on a Pronto.