Pronto Pro Remote - Huge Problem!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Alexander-G, Dec 18, 2002.

  1. Alexander-G

    Alexander-G Agent

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    Mother-in-law just got a sweet home theater set up with a huge flat panel HDTV, 5.1 receiver with Atlantic speakers, DVD, Tivo, VHS, cable with all the HDTV channels etc., and a very expensive looking color Pronto Pro universal remotes designed to make everything work for a non-tech saavy person.
    Here’s the problem – although the remote seems great and intuitive and easy etc., I seem to have stumbled upon a huge problem that makes the remote potentially disastrous for anyone who doesn’t know what they are doing. And the guy from the store who programmed the remote and installed the whole system says there’s nothing I can do about it.
    Here’s the issue:
    1. When you turn the remote on, you get prompts that say things like “do you want to watch something?” or something similar, and you push buttons to make your choices. I will typically push the button for watching something, and then on the next screen will choose cable as my option (instead of say DVD or VHS). At this point the TV screen, cable box, and receiver all turn on and everything works fine.
    2. The problem comes when I have watched enough cable and want to turn the system off. From inside the “cable” screen which I am now in, I can hit a button that says “off.” Everything turns off and I am free to start all over again as I am now turning on the TV for the first time. No problem. Apparently, there is also a back arrow button that will let me choose to watch from another source without going all the way back to the beginning. I have never tried that option but am told it works.
    3. The problem comes if instead of either of those options I hit the “home” icon at the top of screen. That is what I have intuitively done and that is what screws things up. Hitting that button takes me back to the first screen on the remote that I saw when I first decided to watch TV, but the cable, sound, and screen all remain on. On this screen, I also have the option of hitting an “off” button, but if hit that, ONLY THE SCREEN TURNS OFF. The cable box and sound remain on, so I am still listening to the show I was watching. From here, everything is screwed up. If, from the home screen, I choose to watch cable again, the screen comes back on but now cable and receiver actually turn off, so the sound and cable box are now completely flipped!
    The guy from the store tells me that this problem is unavoidable, that the home button cannot be removed, and that no amount of programming will prevent this problem from happening if I go through the steps I went through. Obviously, I know better now so I doubt I will make the same mistake again, and I even know how to fix the problem if I do it by accident (If I simply go again through the same steps that created the problem, the receiver and cable will flip back and solve the problem). The problem is though that my mother-in-law and her guests are not tech saavy people, and I can see someone else screwing this up and having no idea how to fix the problem.
    I find it very hard to believe that there is no way out of this jam, and outrageous that such an expensive remote can have such a terrible problem that makes it such a minefield to use. Does anybody have any suggestions for a fix? Any help will be much appreciated!
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Massimo N

    Massimo N Stunt Coordinator

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    Being a hands-on type of person, I would suggest that you learn how to program the remote yourself so you can get the most out of it. You can do just about anything with that remote. I did a flow chart for my remote, before I did any of the macros [​IMG]
    Another option is to write down what you want the remote to do at a specific point, and just add the button, pages ... to do what you want.
    I don't have the pronto, but I've played with the software while deciding on the best solution for my hometheater. I ultimately went with HTM MX500 (hard button remote).
    It doesn't sound like your remote was programmed with descrete codes, or your components don't have descrete codes. One code for on, and another for off. This would definitely help on programming your macros.
    You might want to consider a macro starting on your home page to sync all of your equipment. A simple one would be setting up a page called POWER. On this page, you can have all your equipment listed so you can turn off what is still on.
    Take a look at www.remotecentral.com There is a wealth of information there.
    Good luck!
    Mass
     
  3. Alexander-G

    Alexander-G Agent

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    Wow - thanks for your response. I didn't know there was such a thing as discrete codes, but that would obviously solve the problem. I don't think we have that.

    I will though post a message on that website, and see if I get any leads. Otherwise, your suggestion sounds like a good one and the best that can be done under the circumstances.

    Are you happy with your remote by the way? I need to get a universal remote for myself, and that seems like one that would be more in my price range.

    best!
    Alex
     
  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Alexander,

    I meant to reply to this hours ago but got caught up with other stuff... sorry.

    While the description you gave above is a bit hard to follow without the remote right in front of me- but it just sounds like a macro gone bad.

    As mentioned above- many macros use discrete codes to send on or off- but not all devices support this. A simple solution would be to offer a quick power button page in addition to the power macro- this would allow you to manually kill any devices that were missed in the macro execution.

    Another option would be to add the "everything off" macro to the main page, so if you go back "home" it would still be available. This would, of course, be greatly assisted by discrete codes- but don't count too much on them as few devices support them!

    In some way there would be a work around- not all of them are elegant- but there should be some solution besides what it sounds like has happened so far.

    I have programmed a few dozen prontos at this point (usually for older family members)- and have found some ways to work around problems- but for the most part Macros are never going to be perfect.



    You should understand that this isn't really a problem with "the remote" rather the fact that the person who programmed it has chosen to rely exclusively on Macros. While, in theory, it makes things easier to use- having the ability to use it without these functions is also necessary!

    When i do a pronto layout- I have make available 3 methods of using the remote:
    1) Simplified remotes- which gives you a couple pages with the 4 most popular commands for each remote. This usually includes power, play, stop, pause- that sort of thing. This page also includes a shortcut button directly to the complete remote for that device.
    2) Complete remotes- which gives every button found on the original remote (usually spread across 4 pages navigated with tabs at the bottom). This way, you are NEVER left without functions you need.
    3) "Help" section with macros. In that section I then put these little handy automatic functions complete with instructions.

    These 3 sections are each linked from the home page (where I also include an ALL ON and ALL OFF function mapped to the two hard buttons on the face)-- and that way if you need to, you can always go into the simple remotes and find the power button for any device and kill it manually.

    Again- it just sounds like the programmer tried to hard to make it "automatic" and didn't include much support for what to do when that automatic stuff failed.

    -Vince
     
  5. Alexander-G

    Alexander-G Agent

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    Vince -

    Thanks! Your explanation sounds just right and provides for me a very quick introduction into the world of universal remotes. The problem clearly is not the remote but the inability of macros to work seamlessly given the technical limitations of the hardware. Discrete codes would solve the problem it seems.

    I will tell the guy from the store to program in a page with all the power buttons. I think that's the way to go. If it was just me, I would probably follow your method, but since the point is really just to make this available to my mother-in-law who doesn't want to think about all these complications and has no idea even what a receiver is, I think a page with all the power buttons is the simplest fix.

    Thanks!
    Alex
     
  6. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Exactly what gear does she have? I program these remotes as a side biz so I'm getting pretty good at it now[​IMG] What you describ is quite common but its not something that you should have to live with. If a device doesn't support discrete codes there are ways to work around the problem so that it doesn't kinder everyday use but they take some planning to make sure that your marco's work as they should.
    For example in your case what gets you screwed up is returning to the home screen to activate a macro. This actually is the prefered way to do it so all that you need to do is take out the power commands to the devices that don't support discrete power codes and place them in another button. You'd then simply press the other button to turn on the various devices to start the system then press a macro which would set the inputs etc and jump you to the device screen you need. When you're done you'd return home and either press another button to select the inputs or press the other button to power off those devices you turned on earlier. If you do this correctly it can work seemlessly....of course there's a reason I try hard to only buy devices with dscrete code support.
     

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