The other online forum with massive amounts of reviews, hints, etc on remotes is www.remotecentral.com. The basic decision here is between a remote that is all activated through on-screen "buttons" like Pronto or one with a mix of LCD display and hard buttons. The most popular of the latter is the Home Theater Master MX-500.
The basic trade-off is that Pronto and its ilk offer the ability to totally customize the display, but at the cost of a screen that is (IMHO) harder to read and use in everyday viewing. Also, a lot of the potential value in programming lots of macros, etc. in the Pronto requires finding and programming discrete codes for your gear (e.g. hard "on " and "Off" commands vs. an on/off toggle.) This can become a whole project in itself.
Many people (myself included) prefer the relatively easy programming and familair real buttons of the MX-500.
A word of clarification. The ProntoPro is the color version of the popular Philips Pronto remote. It also has a larger memory and additional hard buttons. My wife bought it for approx. $650 new, so it's well within your price range.
The ProntoPro does not require you to go through a big project acquiring discrete codes for all your equipment. Out of the box, it comes with a truly extensive library of manufacturers' codes preprogrammed in. In the event that you need additional codes for special functions and/or unusual hardware, the previously-mentioned website Remote Central has a tremendous library of user-submitted codes. Not a big deal at all.
In fact, IMHO the only time when programming the ProntoPro requires any effort at all is if you choose to use one of the third-party add-ins such as ProntoGen, which indexes and databases all of the CDs you may have in multiple jukeboxes on your remote. That certainly can take some time and effort. But for ordinary usage, it's a piece of cake for anyone with computer experience.
Mind you, I don't think I'd buy one for my father-in-law or my grandmother. But I'm assuming a certain level of competence of the readers of this forum.
With your price range, you can pretty much pick any remote in the lineup.
The Marantz 9200, IMO, is the best of the bunch. It has the most amount of screen (some of the areas that the pronto pro takes up with standard screen areas, are configurable on the Marantz) and it has lots of hard keys for day-to-day operation.
It's pricey, though - list price is $1200. Of course, you can get it for less, but Marantz is notorious for blocking their dealers from selling outside their areas or for less than MSRP...
I agree with oferlaor's comments. But compare the feature set of the ProntoPro and the Marantz units and decide for yourself whether the increased price for the Marantz is worth it. IMHO, it probably is not, but reasonable minds can differ.
In my opinion (and in the opinion of quite a few others as well), the very best remote out there for complicated HT use is the RS 15-1994 (or its replacement, the RS 15-2104); and it only costs about $30 (yes, that's thirty)!
In order to set it up so that it is a pronto equivalent, however, you need to hack it a bit so that you can reprogram it via pc. But there is a group out there that has done all the heavy lifrting and made doing that very easy. If you're interested, start at www.hifi-remote.com and branch out from there to the JP1 group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jp1/messages.
I have the RS 15-1994 and it is extremely powerful and user friendly (even for my 6 year old daughter). I gather its replacement -- the 2104 -- is a step backwards, so if you can find the 15-1994 you're better off.
I agree with Oferlaor and Jim: look at the Marantz 9200 and the Pronto Pro and decide the one you like the best. They are basically the same remote, but they look very different. Also the 9200 includes the RF base station, that is an option on the Pro
You know, that Marantz looks nifty but....I would rather be looking at my screen than a remote control. The MX500 has a lot more hard buttons so you don't have to take your eyes off of the movie to operate it.
Also, I find that RF transmission is too slow in an HT environment, I prefer having the relatively quick response of IR.
Phil I have never tried the RF, so I cannot comment on its speed. But I have been using my Pronto for many years now, and I don't think I look at the screen any more then people with PB remotes. On screens and buttons I don't use much I might need to glance at it, but for the commands I use often I just know where they are.
Alan, I don't know the technical reason why it might be slower but the RF devices I have tried seemed to have a slight delay which can be a bit annoying when changing volume level.
Anthony, I have never tried a pronto but have other touchscreen devices and I just prefer having hard buttons and an LCD display. I also like the ergonomics of the MX500, it just feels good in your hand.
AFAIK, there is no inherent difference in speed betw/ the two. From a lay perspecitve I would imagine IR to travel at the speed of light and RF at the speed of radio waves which would be as fast if not just a tad slower. Not perceptible at distances measured in feet.
RF however does have the added ability to go through walls and does not need to be pointed at the receiver to work.
Any noticeable difference in reaction time would most likely be due to the processing of the specific components.
Personally, I think $1K is high for a remote but then again, people are buying plasma hot-tubs then what do I know...
I just got a mx-500 remote,I have tried various high end remotes(touchscreens..etc)..save yourself a lot of grief and buy this remote it simply has no real weakness and has a high WAF approval factor.
Originally posted by Autom8ed ...From a lay perspecitve I would imagine IR to travel at the speed of light and RF at the speed of radio waves which would be as fast if not just a tad slower....
Actually, radio waves propogate at exactly the speed of light. There must be something in the design of the rf components on the one hand versus ir components n the other that causes the difference, but I have no idea why that would be an intrinsic difference.
You might be on to something there Anthony I have used repeaters and they are slower. I have not used many RF only devices so I could have just had a bad one. Nice to know that there should be no difference so I won't avoid them in the future.
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