After spending some quality time

After spending some quality time reprogramming my Pronto Universal remote this weekend to accommodate the new features of HDTV, I thought I might be able to share some wisdom with you. First, the process of enabling more technology in your living room is easy (dollars aside), but making it simple for your family to use is far from it.

In our living room, we have a set-up that includes: an integrated amp; a DVD/CD 5-disc carousel; TiVo; VCR; 5.1 Speakers and our HDTV. We used to control the TV through TiVo, which took my wife some getting used to, but was second nature up until last Friday. With the addition of our new converter box, the method for watching TV just became a bit more complex.

In order to enjoy the enhanced sound and picture, we must switch the mode of our TV from TV to Colorstream HD 1, which is 4 modes (of a possible 5) on our set. Once there, we must use the cable box remote to change channels and review the guide since TiVo does not support HDTV. By not supporting it, TiVo does not display it’s information on our screen, but it is still quite possible to pause live programming. We won’t however, see when TiVo is warning us mid-show that it wishes to switch the channel to record something we might like. We also won’t be able to re-view shows that were being recorded by TiVo in HDTV because it cannot handle the picture. Last night for example, we recorded the audio of Curb Your Enthusiasm with a black screen to complement it.

So back to the universal remote conundrum…I had to re-program our pronto’s and add a new button macro to now include HDTV as an option. A macro just to be clear, allows the pronto to handle the functions of several remotes. The example for our HDTV setting is to set the TV from TV to Colorstream 1 HD (4 button presses, with pauses programmed to assure the commands are sent) change the channel on the cable box to 713 (a PBS HD channel). The remote also conveniently switched it’s screen from the main screen to one that will allow us to command the cable box directly at that point. This macro saves us from having to use 2 different remotes and 7 button presses with 1 simple command. The “problem” for my wife, not a gadget enthusiast like myself, is that she must now decide what mode of TV to watch.

So is this new iPronto remote linked below going to solve the complex world of home theater for us? I doubt it. In fact, as cool as it is, I think it will only be cause for more confusion in the home. It will however, give Philips a better chance to compete against Lexicon and AMX in the high end home control market. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this stuff, just that when I am not home, the home theater set-up will continue to intimidate everyone else at home.

The Ultimate Universal Remote?. A new universal remote control from Philips called the iPronto which doesn’t just control your entertainment center – you can also access the Internet with it over an 802.11b connection and use it to control appliances around the house. And for all you Casanovas out there, you can even program the iPronto to dim the lights, close the drapes, and light the fireplace all at the touch of a button. Read… [Gizmodo]

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