Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
Philips was the first company to popularize a computer-programmable touch-screen remote, and this update of the original Pronto is a hit with home-theater/computer nerds. If you're patient, the TSU3000's almost infinitely customizable screens, buttons, and graphics will serve not merely as a remote but more as an expression of your creativity.
At 6.1 by 3.6 by 1.1 inches, the large Pronto looks like an oversize, well-appointed PDA. Its Mute, channel, and volume hard keys sit to the right of the big LCD, presenting a problem for southpaws. The only other controls outside the touch screen are the small menu pad, the four buttons to the sides of it, and the four above it. We preferred them for daily use because we could use them by feel and, unlike the touch screen, each always responded to one press.
The TSU3000 takes four AAAs, which it burns through at a pretty rapid clip. We supplied our own Radio Shack nickel-metal-hydride rechargeable cells, but we had to recharge them every three days or so. We strongly recommend that owners invest in the DS3000 recharging station, which includes its own rechargeable batteries and sells for $60 online.
The TSU3000's large 320x240-pixel screen is highly legible, but those who have seen the more expensive Pronto TSU6000 (or even a color PDA) may be disappointed. The blue backlight can be bright, but it automatically dims according to the room's lighting conditions, and it tended to fade too quickly for our taste. We ended up setting the brightness as high as possible.
The built-in code database lets you program the remote for many devices, but for true compatibility, the learning function is indispensable. It operates in the standard fashion: you point your gear's original remote at the Pronto and program buttons one by one. The process worked well; the TSU3000 accepted all the commands we tried.
You can execute a series of commands with a single press, create new screens, and assemble original button configurations. Unfortunately, the proprietary, Windows-only Pronto Edit NG software makes this customization difficult. There are few preinstalled button styles, and designing your own requires a graphics program, which isn't included.
Getting the most out of the Pronto means spending hours with its software. At sites such as &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=CNET&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eremotecentral%2Ecom%2Findex%2Ehtml" target="new">Remote Central and &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=CNET&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eprontoedit%2Ecom%2Findex%2Ehtml" target="new">Pronto Edit, you'll get plenty of support, including device-control information and downloadable buttons. For the average user who doesn't have lots of time, however, the TSU3000 is just too much work.