Need "wife friendly" remote

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by BrianMu, Dec 9, 2001.

  1. BrianMu

    BrianMu Stunt Coordinator

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    I need some help fiding a new remote. I currently have a Sony RM-VL900 but I need something more effective. The problem is that it doesn't have enough buttons for each component and I have buttons programmed to do things that are completely different than what the button says (for example, I ran out of room for the cable box set and had to use pause for the exit command). I had to split the commands for my ReplayTV onto 2 different components. Half of the less frequently used functions on my DVD player are not programmed in at all. I'm guessing I'm going to have to go to a touchscreen remote to get one that has enough buttons although I'd prefer not to. Basically, I want a remote that will give me all (or nearly all) of the commands for each component and I want the buttons to be labeled correctly yet to boot (tall order, huh?) My wife couldn't play a DVD to save her life because a number of the buttons that need to be used are "hidden" within other buttons on the remote. I've been looking over on remotecentral.com but wanted to get some opinions from you guys on this. I don't have to go real cheap with this, but need to stay under $200. Is this do-able? I gather a Pronto would suit my need swell, but that's too much $$$ for me...

    Brian
     
  2. Jah-Wren Ryel

    Jah-Wren Ryel Stunt Coordinator

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    jandr.com is selling refurb 1st generation prontos for $129 ($149 on the web, but they sent a paper flyer out a few weeks back advertising them for $129 and reportedly you can call them up and order them at that price).
     
  3. BrianMu

    BrianMu Stunt Coordinator

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    How do the first generation Prontos compare to the TSU2000? Are the differences overlookable for the $100 difference?

    For those of you who have touchscreen remotes: did you easily get used to not having any (or at least many) hard buttons? I always find the buttons by feel and I'm wondering if I'd like having to turn on the backlight to look for the buttons...

    Brian
     
  4. RyanMM

    RyanMM Extra

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    If you can get a Pronto for $129 I'd say go for it. I spent over $300 (including charger on mine) It has infinite customability & is very user friendly (at least as user friendly as you program it to be) I have a a typical home theater setup & with the help of macro buttons & some icons my girlfriend is able to operate my system with zero problems after about 5 minutes of instruction from me. She does not have to ask me well how do I do this? I love mine.

    As for the differnece btw. tsu1000 & 2000 is that the 1000 has 1mb memory & the 2000 has 2mb of memory. The only way you are going to get anywhere near that is is you use a very graphic intensive interface and have a lot of components. If I remember correctly mine has like 48 memory free. ( i have a 1000)
     
  5. BrianMu

    BrianMu Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow,

    The refurb'ed Pronto for $130 sounds like it might fit the bill. I have a couple questions left after reading the review on remotecentral.com.

    1. I don't know that I understand entirely how the remote works as far as when the backlight and LCD are on. Let's say I'm watching a DVD and haven't touched any buttons for an hour and want to pause the movie. What would I do? Is the LCD off by this time?

    2. How readable is the LCD in low light? I assume it's easy to read in no light and high light, but what if there is a small amount of light coming into the room from another room?

    3. Does the unit come with the cable to hook it up to a computer, or is that something extra to buy? I know you are supposed to be able to download the software for free from Phillips, but what about the cable?

    Thanks,

    Brian
     
  6. Bryan Acevedo

    Bryan Acevedo Second Unit

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    OK - I used to be called the remote guru at my old job because I obsessed over them! Now I realized that I needed to get a life. Anyway.
    I used to have the Harmon Kardon Take Control. I hated it. Stay away from this piece of crap. Now that I got that out of the way.
    I prefer hard button remotes to touch screen remotes. Why?
    Well in this day and age, you are using the remote for a lot more than just hitting Play and CH+ and CH-. I got tired of the touch screens because you HAVE to look at it to use it. I don't care how much you use it (and know the layout), but if your thumb is anywhere near the wrong button, you are doing the wrong command. Take surfing the guides on satellite TV. You have to use a guide button, the 4 arrow keys, plus an enter or exit button. With a hard button remote you can keep your eye on the screen while moving the cursor around the screen by feel. Try that with a touch screen. You have to look down (taking your eye off of the screen - the whole point), press the guide button (which will probably take you to another screen, because you can't put a lot on one screen) position your thumb on the correct part of the screen, and then when you need to hit another button, look down at the remote to make sure you thumb is in the right position and press it. This assumes of course that the remote actually registered your button push (sometimes it isn't sure if you are pressing the button) or it only registered one button push. Sometimes just resting your thumb on the screen will cause it to register a button push.
    The touchscreens are also limited by what you can have showing on the screen at one time. To make the buttons useable, they have to be a certain size, and usually that means figuring out the different screens. For example, for sat viewing again, you usually can't have both the number keypad, plus all of the necessary buttons for guide viewing and menus that make it really usable. You have to keep switching between screens. And some of these remotes aren't exactly lightning fast. You have to wait a fraction of a second (which is actually a long wait when you want to bring up the guide NOW) and then press the guide button. Then you have to switch back to the previous screen to do whatever function it is that you want on that screen. A big pain the but if you ask me. And it makes it almost impossible for anyone that doesn't know your remote layout to use it. They are looking for the channel numbers, but they are on a different screen and they have to know what screen they are on and which button to push to get to that screen. And WAF - forget about it - these things are way too complicated for them!
    In my opinion, touchscreen remotes are great for movie viewing, where you basically only use it for a few features (like setting the DVD up and pressing play, then maybe pressing pause). They are also good for putting every single button from every single remote in it, so you have them there, and then being labelled correctly. However, for day to day use, they are a hassle.
    What remote then? The Home Theater Master MX-500. This is a fully hard buttoned remote, but with some cool customization features. It has all of the buttons that you would normally need, plus 10 customizable buttons with an LCD screen at the top to label them. You have a column of 5 buttons on the top left, plus the LCD, plus the other column of 5 buttons on the top right. The label of 5 characters is next to the button. So you can still use the command by feel, or look at the remote and figure out which button it is if you can't remember. It is also about $179, but can be found for less on the web. It does all kinds of macros (which the wife will love) to make everything automated.
    What do I use? The Denon remote that came with my 3802 receiver. It is fully learning, has every button that I need for day-to-day stuff, and supports full macros. Plus, it has all of the keys needed to control the components accessible at once. What I like is it has seperate discrete buttons for the different DSP modes and controls for the receiver, while allowing me to have full control of my satellite receiver at the same time (no mode switching required). My wife loves this remote (everything is labelled correctly, except for a couple of obscure buttons that only I use) and I really like it, too. I know some people have complained about it, but I don't know why, as it is one of the better remotes that I have used, and I have tried or researched several.
    If my Denon remote wasn't that good, I would definitely buy the MX-500, but since it was "free" I will use it until I either replace my receiver or it doesn't do everything I need it to.
    Good luck!
    Bryan
    P.S. I am not trying to knock the people who like touchscreens - these are just my opinions - yours may vary! [​IMG] I would like to hear the reverse side as well.
     
  7. BrianMu

    BrianMu Stunt Coordinator

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    Bryan,
    Thanks so much for the reply. You bring to light my worst fears and make some good points. My biggest issue is having to constantly look down to see which button to press. I guess my "ideal" (non-existant) remote would be a fully hard buttoned remote with a tiny LCD window over each button which changes depending on which mode it's in. But since such a remote doesn't exist, I have to figure out whether complete programming control/expandability/customization or ease of use is more important. Decisions, decisions....
    If anybody else has any opinions to offer or some "must read" threads to link to, I'm all eyes[​IMG].
    Brian
     
  8. Luke_Y

    Luke_Y Second Unit

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    Brian, Look at Remote Central . Lots of reviews and info on the popular remotes.
    Also look here for the cheaper alternative
     
  9. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    We always get into the big hard buttons vs. touchscreen debate. I'll just summarize very quickly. Touchscreen pros: there is definitely more flexibility. Much easier to make wife-friendly. Hard button pros: the buttons can be located without looking once you have tactilely memorized their location.

    The bottom line is that you can't get both in one remote.

    As an illustration of wife-friendliness. My pronto (actually rc5000) has a button with her name on it. She pushes it. If the tv is off it turns on, else it stays on. The tv turns to her favorite channel (food tv). All components are turned to their right state (on/off), including reciever, dvd player, ld player, cd player etc.

    The pronto now has 7 hard buttons she can used programmed to vol up/down, channel up/down, mute, forward 30 seconds (I have replay tv), backward 7 seconds.

    The pronto screen now has buttons customized to her. Her favorite tv stations with channel logos. A cd button that plays cds with one touch. Etc., etc.
     
  10. Jim Lenneman

    Jim Lenneman Stunt Coordinator

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    Just to add a little to what George said about wife friendly. How about wanting to dub a tape between 2 VCR's?

    With a touch screen you can add text box instructions walking you or anyone through the process. While you may be able to set up a macro on a hard button remote that will approximate this, it probably won't be labeled correctly, won't tell you which machine is the source or which machine to insert the blank tape in. I can think of many other situations where on screen text can come in handy. As others have said, each type of remote has some strengths and weaknesses. The good news is that two execellent examples (Pronto 1meg model, and the MX-500) are available for approximately the same price.

    Jim L
     
  11. Todd B

    Todd B Stunt Coordinator

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    I have owned a 1mb Pronto for almost 2 years now and recently purchased the HTM MX-500. While I love the customizability of the Pronto, I found that I really missed the hard buttons for day to day operations. In some cases, I found that hard buttons were indispesable (such as configuring my system with Avia or VE).

    In the end, I will probably use the 500 more than the Pronto. It is configurable enough for my family's needs. It has 52 hard "selection" buttons (32 fixed-label hard plus 2 pages of 10 user-labelled LCD buttons) per device with 10 devices. The 10 LCD buttons can execute macros from the main (i.e. device selection) page plus there are another 5 or so hard buttons that can contain macros as well. Finally, there are 5 user-customizable Favorites pages which can be configured to run "mini" macros as well.

    The 500 isn't perfect, though. You are limited to 5 characters for the LCD labels. Also, the macros are a little limited (e.g. you can't attach macros for the LCD buttons once you are on a device page). Still, the 500 has more than enough functionality for most peoples home theaters and may very well be the best "hard button" remote available.

    So....

    As has been said before, the first question you need to ask is whether you will be happy with a touch screen remote. If your answer is yes, the Pronto is a great way to go. However, if you need the feel of hard button remote, it's hard to beat the MX-500.
     
  12. JerryLA

    JerryLA Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I'd have to go with hard buttons and the Home Theater Master MX-500. I just purchased one of these in the last couple of weeks from a recommendation on this board. I looked at the Pronto and just didn't think I'd like the touchscreen. I've also heard they can be a little difficult to read at night with the backlighting. The MX-500 does much more than I would ever need it to do. It was very easy to program, although none of my equipment responded to the pre-set codes, the learning feature worked without flaw. It feels good in your hand and the fact that all the buttons are backlit is a big plus for me. Online a price of $131.00 delivered was sweet.
    Check it out!
    www.hometheatermaster.com
    Jerry
     
  13. Brian Schucher

    Brian Schucher Supporting Actor

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    I had the Take Control (crap), The Marantz RC2000 (came with my receiver), The Pronto and now the MX500. The Pronto is certainly the winner in the "cool" factor and customizability but i found the light output to be be not enuff in a room that was not totally dark and I decided i prefered touchscreens. Also as someone noted earlier you can do very kewl macros with it but your device better have discreet codes for them to work as they should. I ended up selling the Pronto and going back to my RC2000 until the MX500 came out. The Rc sits in a box now and i just plain love the MX500. Wife hated the Pronto and the RC is pretty awkward design as well from an ergonomic standpoint. Its top heavy for sure. Oh! one more thing on the Pronto. It is kinda fragile..dont drop it or plan on buying a new screen for it
     
  14. BrianMu

    BrianMu Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, it looks like the MX-500 is the best fit for me at this point. The only other possible exception might be the MX-1000, but for $100 more and less hard buttons (granted, it has much more flexibility and customizations with the LCD portion) I guess I can't really justify it. I guess the post that really hit home is Bryan's mention of having to look at the remote the entire time while navigating a DVD menu or Cable box menu with the LCD screen. That effectively rules out the Pronto dispite its advanced features and programming capability.

    Does anybody know of anything on the horizon that might be worth waiting for a couple months for? The MX-700 looks interesting but I have no need for the little extra remote and I'm guessing it will cost quite a bit more than the MX-500 just because it's new. With all the "universal" remotes I've bought over the years, I'd hate to buy one only to have remote envy 2 months later because the latest and greatest fits my needs better...

    Thanks for all the help,

    Brian
     
  15. Roger Clark

    Roger Clark Stunt Coordinator

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    While I own and would vote for the Pronto 1000. I'd take a very close look if you get the deal from J&R. Based on one of these threads, I turned a friend on to it and he ordered one from them. When he got it, it had a horizontal crack through the LCD screen and would not respond to any screen press. J&R was very good and sent a replacement (and a return pre-paid shipping label for the bad one), however the replacement unit had a dead back light (required with one of these). He gave up. This might be just an isolated incident, but these are refurbished units.

    I'd be interested in hearing success stories on the J&R deal.

    Roger
     
  16. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    I use a Yamaha RAV-2000 which is the Yammy version of the Pronto 2000. The only differences are some slight software changes, different hard buttons, and more memory is used by the universal data base. I've got a pretty spiffy configuration going, IMHO, and it requires 300k. At this point I have 10 or so devices programmed in it, 21 TV stations, and macros to power on and select each device from the home screen. It is my hope to make this idiot proof, but this will take some time. The upside to the pronto based remotes is their near infinite customizability and you can make macros for everything. The downside is the lack of buttons and time it takes to really configure it to suit your needs.

    While the lack of hard buttons is a downer, for wife usability it can't be beat. On my remote I've just added a button on the home screen labeled "Watch TV". You press that and it takes you to the screen with the TV station logos and a TiVo logo. If you want to watch one of the networks I have programmed in, you can stay on that screen. If you push the TiVo logo it jumps to the TiVo controls, which look like the TiVo buttons, and brings up the guide.

    Before this, I had a Marantz RC-2000 Mk. 2. If your wife is capable of handling normal remotes, this might do the trick. It supports 10 devices, and has 32 hard and 32 soft buttons. You can do quite a bit with that. Unfortunately its macro space is rather limited, so I never used that feature.
     
  17. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

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    I need a Remote that MAKES my wife friendly[​IMG]
     
  18. AaronD

    AaronD Stunt Coordinator

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    You may want to look into the Pronto Neo, it has quite a bit of the nifty lcd features of it's bigger brothers plus it may have enough hard buttons to suffice. I had one briefly, but I returned it because of it's inability to learn some codes from my Harman/Kardon remote (specifically the source select buttons). I've been through three universal remotes and haven't found one that could learn all my devices yet, so make sure you can return whatever you get easily.
    I don't have a very unique system I guess, but I've had my problems. I was filled with hope when I got the pronto neo, and I really wish it would have worked for me.
    For the record I've got the following:
    Harman/Kardon AVR310 Receiver
    Sony DVP-CX860 DVD/CD Changer
    27" FV Series Sony Wega
    Phillips Tivo
    Anyone have similar problems with the neo?
     
  19. BrianMu

    BrianMu Stunt Coordinator

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    I took a quick look at Marantz's site and like the looks of the RC-2000 Mk 2. A quick search on the web yielded no one selling them though. Does anybody know of an online vendor and how much they are going for? It looks like it might be a direct competitor to the MX-500. I also found an MX-1000 for $185 that might be a possibility. The review at remotecentral.com was favorable. Anyone have any experience with this remote?

    Brian
     
  20. TylerZ

    TylerZ Stunt Coordinator

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    I got my MX500 from rrdeals.com for $131 including shipping. It replaced 5 remotes, (sat, tv, vcr, dvd, & receiver). It took me about 3 hours total to program EVERY function of those 5 remotes into the MX500. The thing is so user friendly even my 10 year old uses it with no problems at all. I highly reccomend it!
     

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