on March 13, 2005
Just got the iPronto and it's "kewl" factor is beyond anything the marketing materials can describe. It is solid, the touchscreen is excellent in its colors and resolution, the form factor does not feel awkward in the hands, and the electronics are amazing in the breadth of what you can do. It mimics very high-end remotes costing several times this price, and does it well...once you have it set up, and there's the rub.
The iPronto must be connected to a wireless network. Surprisingly and to Philips great credit, I was able to connect to my home encrypted wireless network first try, and reliably. Excellent instructions and it worked. From there it went downhill. Unless you have all Philips equipment (does anyone?), you will have to program the iPronto to recognize and send the infrared codes of your equipment. Unlike most universal remotes, it is not just a matter of selecting a codeset from a table of manufacturer's names. You have to load a separate application called ProntoEdit onto your computer and it has to be connected to the same network. Then you can go into the application, select a manufacturer, pick one of the (many in the case of my TV manufacturer) codes, try one, save the file, download it through the wireless network to the iPronto, then see if it works. If not, lather, rinse, and repeat until it does. Very cumbersome and unbelievably time-consuming. And if you have one or more TV's, a DVD player or two, VCR, cable, satellite, DVR, TiVo, etc., this could consume days, not hours, of time. The only alternative is to take each non-Philips remote, point it at the iPronto, and learn each code button by button. No time savings there and the fun and excitement wears off very quickly.
After coding is complete however (and the configuration file is safely backed up on your computer's hard drive so you NEVER have to go through this EVER again), the device is amazing. It works well, and reliably. Battery life is very short during the extensive programming so keep it on the charger. After than, it has lasted me a little over a day without a charge with moderate use typical of a new toy.
The iPronto also is a web browser and that works well too. The 3rd feature is the onscreen electronic programming guide. It is downloaded to the iPronto periodically and is what you'd expect from a program guide not unlike the service you see on your TV from your cable or satellite company. And you can immediately control your equipment from this screen to, say, begin recording something in the guide. The guide has user interface issues, however. It has several built-in and unchangeable filters for movies, sports, etc., but doesn't not have any search ability by time, station, or program title. If you're used to the superb interface in a TiVo unit, you'll be frustrated. And the order of the items listed is not intuitive (e.g., station number, alphabetical, etc.) but something I've yet to ascertain. When you subscribe (and you must) you will get the updates for 3 years after which you have to renew. There is no cost.