Background: I’ve been a user of Philips Pronto remote controls since the original TSU-1000 was released in 1998. Since then, I’ve upgraded twice and I carefully consider each new product cycle. I’d become a bit disappointed because new product releases seemed to be “two steps forward and one step back.” (For example, the TSU7000/TSU7500 still does not have automatic backlights behind the hard buttons.) Also, Philips released a new product, the customer-installer-only TSU9600, a year ago but offered no third-party support for features or enhancements. All that has now changed.
A New Remote: The TSU9400 appears to be a consumer-focused upgrade to the existing TSU7500 that incorporates many features of the TSU9600. This is great news to the enthusiast crowd that has been neglected by Philips for the past couple of years.
Universal 2-way Scripting Support: The even better news the the announcement of ProntoScript, which will allows anyone to code 2-way control of any device, not just the 3 devices that were previously supported. There are hundreds of Home Theater devices capabale of receiving commands and providing status feedback (via RS-232 or Ethernet ports.) Now users of the newest Prontos will be able to create scripts to take advantage of these features. Personally, I’m looking forward to integration with Windows Media Center.
Are even more features available to third parties?
For those that don’t know, the newest Philips remotes and base stations are based on Linux. All of the source code is available for download at http://www.pronto.philips.com/index.cfm?id=1367 .
Would Hacking the firmware Help or Hurt Philips? According to BusinessWeek, it would help. If there are features missing, I’m hoping a motivated can resolve that limitation.
Excerpts from the “Hack This Product, Please!” article
Above all, this “collaboration generation” wants a two-way relationship with the brands they select. Our research reveals that 68% of young people surveyed in the U.S. and Canada are eager to help companies design their products and services.
The second change is that customers use the Web to create vast online prosumer communities, in which they share product-related information, collaborate on customized projects, engage in commerce, and swap tools, tips, and product hacks. What were once fringe activities—the preserve of the amateur electronics club—are increasingly conducted in open, public, easily accessible forums.
Finally, companies are discovering that “lead users”—people who push the limits of existing technology and often create their own product prototypes in the process—often develop modifications and extensions to products that will appeal to mainstream markets. In other words, lead users serve as a beacon for where the mainstream market is headed. Companies that learn how to tap the insights of lead users can gain competitive advantage.