Philips Pronto TSU9600 Touchscreen Control Panel Page 3

The Short Form

Price $1,898 (as tested), $1,299 (base) / pronto.philips.com / 888-744-5477
Snapshot
Terrific graphics, support for Escient and Lutron, plus Wi-Fi control make this a worthy heir to the Pronto legacy.
Plus
•Beautiful high-resolution graphics •Renowned programming flexibility •Support for Escient and Lutron systems •Promises of awesome things still to come
Minus
•Smallish screen for price •Requires two-handed operation
Key Features
•3.7-inch TFT display with 640 x 480 resolution •Built-in Wi-Fi •USB 2.0 connection for programming downloads •Built-in support for Escient Media Servers and Lutron RadioRA lighting control •Includes rechargeable lithium-ion battery and docking cradle •64 MB SDRAM, 64 MB NAND flash memory •Up to 16 RFX9400 or RFX9600 extenders can be added for additional features
Touch a button or pick up the remote, and the real show begins as the 3.7-inch screen comes to life. Its 640 x 480 VGA resolution is fully twice that of other panels its size, and it produces gorgeous, super-bright, razor-sharp images. I loaded it with digital photos of my daughter that I browsed during commercials because they looked so great. Forget about 1080p; the pixel density on the Pronto is equivalent to that of a 50-inch TV with 4,151,193 pixels!

Several hard buttons augment the touchscreen control, giving tactile access to frequently used commands. As with most other touchpanels, I found it tricky to use the Pronto with one hand, and it just worked and felt better when using both. Since the remote is so programmable - allowing you to resize, reshape, relabel, and even redraw buttons - if you don't like the design, change it. Any command from any device can be added to any screen. Large-fingered operators might also appreciate the hidden stylus that slips into the top-right corner of the case, though I never felt the need to use it.

Because of past experience - acquiring the network upon picking up the remote took too long, some commands in macros weren't transmitted while others repeated over and over - I was skeptical of controlling my system via Wi-Fi. No such problems here, however. First, the Pronto is lightning fast at acquiring the Wi-Fi network, never making me wait before issuing commands. Second, controlling components with the RFX9600 via Wi-Fi produced results identical to those obtained using the remote alone, except I could roam the house at will and never needed to point the remote at my gear. I'm not sure what Philips is doing differently here, but it works.

Battery life seems quite reasonable based on the screen's size, brightness, and resolution, especially since I had the remote set to not "time out" its Wi-Fi connection until after 2 hours of idling. With moderate use, the remote easily lasted several days between trips to the charging cradle.

NEW TRICKS If the new Pronto were just another smart remote - admittedly with the sweetest of sweet resolution - there wouldn't be too much of a story. But its support for Escient music managers and Lutron lighting control is what makes it truly special.

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