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Philips' Ipronto Remote St. John's NL

Philips’ IPronto remote pairs wireless Internet access with audiovisual system control. Does it have the right touch? The following article will give you the answer and other details.

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Philips' Ipronto Remote

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March 1, 2004 By Mike McGann

What high-end home theater would be complete without a touchscreen controller? Who wants to shuffle through a table full of remotes or grope around in the dark for the right button? When home theater aficionados think touchscreen, they usually think Crestron or AMX, the two leading high-end touchscreen suppliers. These manufacturers do offer the most capable controllers, but their products demand the services of a highly skilled programmer, which many custom installers do not have on staff. Furthermore, if you want to alter the touchscreen’s operations, you cannot do so with Crestron or AMX—not without the services of a professional programmer, anyway.

There are alternatives, though, and some of the best are the Pronto series of remotes from Philips Electronics. They are no substitute for the versatility and reliability of a Crestron or AMX system, but for such locations as a bedroom, a playroom or a vacation home (particularly one far from a custom installer), they provide a taste of touchscreen luxury with a fraction of the complexity.

The latest in the line is the iPronto, which edges Philips closer to Crestron/AMX capability than do the earlier, PDA-like Prontos. The iPronto literally opens up a whole new world—the online world—because you can access the Internet right on the touchscreen.  You can check a player’s statistics during a ball game, take a quick look to see what program is on next without distracting family members from their sitcom, or track your stocks during the commercial breaks in your favorite cop show.

The iPronto is a tablet-like device with a 6-inch color liquid-crystal display panel surrounded by a silver frame. It sits flat on a table or your lap, or stands up at a 45-degree angle. A built-in universal serial bus (USB) port supports a plug-in keyboard, which you may find useful for writing e-mails to complain about this week’s docudrama. However, neither the built-in stereo speakers nor the memory-card slot work as of yet; their functionality awaits future versions of the iPronto software.

The iPronto requires a wireless computer network (using the WiFi/802.11b standard) for the initial installation and to access its TV program guide and Web browser. I experience no problems in connecting the iPronto, right out of the box, to my wireless network. Customizing the unit for my system takes a bit more effort, in part because the review unit does not have the latest software update. According to a Pronto forum on the Web, this update prevents the unit from acting like the lead character in The Exorcist, so I install it without delay.

The top of the iPronto (left) features a headphone jack, a power jack, a memory-card slot and a USB port for connecting a keyboard. However, the memory card and headphone functions are presently inactive. (Click images to enlarge)

With the software update complete, I download a simple applica...

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