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Philips' Pronto line of universal remotes was once the pinnacle of home theater cool--supercustomizable touch-screen models with a dedicated community of users who shared icons, macros, codes, and tricks on many an online message board. In the face of stiff competition from Logitech's PC-programmable Harmony line, the Pronto line has since been rebranded as a boutique option, only available via custom installers. In its place, however, Philips has since rolled out the Prestigo line of consumer-friendly remotes. One such model is the SRU8010, which retails for about $80. It's not designed for high-end home theater use (those who want to program elaborate multidevice macros), but for everyone else--the other 80 percent of the population who are just looking for a quick and easy way to consolidate all those remotes on the coffee table--the easy-to-program SRU8010 deserves serious consideration.
The SRU8010 has received some winking notoriety for its separate "His" and "Hers" channel lineups, but those are 2 of 10 possible distinct customized channel slates, which can be personalized for individual family members or groups (kids, grandma) or for specific channel groupings or genres (movies, news, HD channels--whatever you'd like). The channel choices are shown on the brilliantly bright 1.5x2-inch color screen that dominates the top quarter of the remote. It's got 10 contextual hard buttons--five on each side--that correspond to the customized channel offerings. Even better, the channels can be set to show their familiar logos, so they're easily distinguished from one another. Personalizing channel or button names is easy--just type on the numeric keypad as you would when sending a text message on your cell phone.
Multistep macros can be programmed on the Prestigo SRU8010 as well--but they're limited to one device at a time. So while you can set an AV receiver to prep itself for DVD playback--power up, switch to the right input, engage midnight mode, or whatever--you can't utilize the sort of multidevice task-based macros found on the likes of a Logitech Harmony remote. That's not a criticism per se--that sort of sophisticated programming ability is pretty much beyond the mission statement of this particular Prestigo model. The remote is also a little beefy--it's 8 ounces when the three AA batteries are loaded up--but its permanent memory retention means that you can swap in new power cells without having to reprogram from scratch.
In the final analysis, some hardcore home theater users may scoff at the Prestigo as gimmicky (the His and Hers buttons), underpowered (no multidevice macros), or a little too "senior friendly." And that's fine, because this remote isn't for them--it's for their significant others, or even their parents (older folks will love the big numbers on the keypad and the superbright LCD screen). If you don't need the advanced macros or if you're frustrated by the Harmony remotes' need to be tethered to a PC for programming, the Philips Prestigo SRU8010 may be just what the doctor ordered.