Pronto / marantz type remotes - still worth it?

Pronto / marantz type remotes - still worth it?

Author
Discussion

aww999

Original Poster:

1,974 posts

199 months

Thursday 10th January
quotequote all
I have been trying an older Harmony remote for the last week, and found it really unreliable and frustrating. I much prefer being able to set up proper button - by - button macros like on my ancient marantz rc5400 (rip) rather than being restricted to "activities". Plus I quite liked the programming!

There are plenty of secondhand ones for sale on eBay, so I am thinking of going back in time ten years and getting one. The biggest issue I can see is lack of playstation control (no Bluetooth) but I think basic PS4 media functions can be controlled by a plug-in IR widget.

Am I mad or does the old tech still have the edge when it comes to configurability?

VEX

4,281 posts

184 months

Thursday 10th January
quotequote all
Slightly mad,

I know the appeal, but the Harmony's are very flexible if you stop trying to program them in terms of traditional programming and think of it as a flow chart,

Takes a little getting used to but they can be made to work very well.

My business partner prefers using the app for programming, where as I like the laptop format.

V.

JimbobVFR

1,917 posts

82 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
For me absolutely.

I've got 3 TSU9400 remotes and 2 of the smaller WiFi extenders and replacing them with Harmony just doesn't work for me.

I did have a string of previous pronto remotes so my basic configuration has given me a starting point for setup each time I've upgraded.

The 9400 is easily the best remote I've ever used and with all the effort I've put into programming and refining the interface over the years makes mine really easy to pick up and use.

I will say using them is very much dependant on how well it's been programmed.

I've constantly for my eye open for cheap 9400s to keep mine going as long as possible.

Oh and an edit, don't bother with the older Marantz or Prontos, they're bricks compared to the later TSU9400.

There's also a TSU9300 which is a slimmer version but similar functionality and the TSU9600/TSU9800 which are table top panels more than remotes. The 9400 is the sweet spot IMO. This is one of mine



Edited by JimbobVFR on Friday 11th January 01:03

davek_964

5,202 posts

113 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
I've got two old 9600s, and at least one (but I think two) extenders. I haven't used them for years. Some features I miss (I have Rako lights in my lounge, and had something plugged into the extender which allowed me to control the lights with the remote) - but configuring the Harmony's is so much easier. It's literally a 5 minute job to reconfigure the remote control if I buy a new TV or something. Plus - Alexa connects to the Harmony, which it obviously wouldn't to the Philips.

I enjoyed programming mine when I used them, and put a LOT of effort into them (I wrote the code behind the official Rako app) but I can't say I miss them much.

ETA : One thing I always found very frustrating about the pronto was that the 9600 was absolutely dire at learning IR commands - it basically couldn't do it. Which meant that unless it was in the database - or you could find the codes on one of the forums, or an equivalent that worked - you were screwed. Both my 9600s had the same issue, so it wasn't just that one was broken.

Edited by davek_964 on Friday 11th January 07:12

aww999

Original Poster:

1,974 posts

199 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
Thanks guys. I read jimbob's post and got straight onto ebay, then read the next one and have flip-flopped the other way!

Can I access some sort of command-by-command programming within the Harmony software? As an example, it was trivial to set up my old remote so that it used the "Sky" command to turn the sky box on, and then the power-off macro used "Sky" followed by "power on/off" to turn it off. 100% reliable, whether sky box had been left on, turned off manually, etc If a unit misses a command then running the whole macro again brings everything back into synch . Harmony uses the power toggle which means it keeps going out of synch with the box. Also, we watch sky more than anything else, and my Pioneer won't switch inputs until it's been on for 30s or so. Therefore I added a "switch pioneer tv to sky input" command to the power off macro, so it's always in sky mode when I turned the system on.

If I could do relatively simple stuff like that I think I'd go for the newer tech, I am probably just ignorant of what can be done but all of the online manuals I've found show the absolute simplest way of getting it working, eg drag - n - drop activities.
Advertisement

JimbobVFR

1,917 posts

82 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
If it helps I've never had a problem with learning codes on my 9400 pl lugged into my PC. I run the editing software in a VM

There's 3 different distinct versions of PEP (Pronto Edit Pro)
version 1 is quite similar to what you're familiar with using for older remotes. You can still learn codes directly to a button and open multiple pages of your remotes interface. You can also import old files (CCF and PCF format) from previous Prontos.

Version 2 changed completely. You're now forced to use the code database, can only open 1 page in your setup. Unless you're determined to make full use of pronto script I'd actually suggest using version 1 of the software.

Version 3 was never officially released before they stopped selling remotes.

Stick with PEP 1.1 and you'll be happy.

My setup is quite complicated as my 2 main zones downstairs are interlinked, I use 2 extenders to allow controlling all my kitchen from either location and all 3 of my remotes have separate sections for use in either room.

davek_964

5,202 posts

113 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
aww999 said:
Thanks guys. I read jimbob's post and got straight onto ebay, then read the next one and have flip-flopped the other way!

Can I access some sort of command-by-command programming within the Harmony software? As an example, it was trivial to set up my old remote so that it used the "Sky" command to turn the sky box on, and then the power-off macro used "Sky" followed by "power on/off" to turn it off. 100% reliable, whether sky box had been left on, turned off manually, etc If a unit misses a command then running the whole macro again brings everything back into synch . Harmony uses the power toggle which means it keeps going out of synch with the box. Also, we watch sky more than anything else, and my Pioneer won't switch inputs until it's been on for 30s or so. Therefore I added a "switch pioneer tv to sky input" command to the power off macro, so it's always in sky mode when I turned the system on.

If I could do relatively simple stuff like that I think I'd go for the newer tech, I am probably just ignorant of what can be done but all of the online manuals I've found show the absolute simplest way of getting it working, eg drag - n - drop activities.
You can edit the Power on / Off sequences in the Harmony App. If your Sky box has explicit power on / off commands, you can change them to use those commands. And if you need to wait 30s before your tv can switch inputs, then you can add a 30s delay to the power up sequence before the TV is told to switch to the correct input for that source.

aquarianone

392 posts

115 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
Genuinely can't see the point anymore, I retired my trusty Pronto years ago....(and I did love that 'ol bugger)

Voice command on the Xbox One works pretty well, turns everything on / off and now links with Alexa.

Xbox (or PS4 i'd imagine) has - Blu ray, Netflix, Prime and Plex ...and games, all in one place and all accessible with the Xbox goto ...command

Sky box for normal tv, so there's not too much "switching" around, as you're in one place or the other, and both can be controlled by basic voice commands

Xbox volume up, watch BBC1, go to Netflix, etc...

Couple that with Alexa controlling your lights and wotnot, and being able to link up commands...it's bloomin amazeballs. biggrin




clockworks

2,615 posts

83 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
I've had a couple of Prontos in the past, last one was the Marantz version, which came with a "blaster" hub. Back then, a Pronto was the only thing that really worked. Early Harmony remotes were pretty basic, even the expensive touch screen versions. Could be a real pain to get working, and you had to point them in the right direction, or stuff would get out of sync.

A few years ago Harmony started selling remotes with a blaster hub, and the programming improved. I bought a Harmony Smart Control - small Bluetooth remote and a blaster hub. Easy to set up, and plenty of options to tweak stuff if it doesn't quite work - add extra commands to an activity, program sequences onto buttons, etc. With 5 sources, AV amp, etc., it works flawlessly. No line of sight needed from the remote.

I've recently upgraded the basic Smart Control (AKA Companion) remote in the living room to a fancy one with a touchscreen (Elite, I think), keeping the basic remote as a backup. Both remotes are paired to the hub at the same time, works seamlessly.

I've got the basic Smart Control remotes on the kitchen and workshop systems too. No way I could go back to the hassle of programming a Pronto.

JimbobVFR

1,917 posts

82 months

Friday 11th January
quotequote all
The big issue for me with Harmony is I need to control kit in different locations so have 2 wireless expenses in different locations.

Harmony remotes can only link to one hub, fine if all your kit is one location or you have a basic system in one room, for my needs I just can't make them work.

I do have a Home Assistant server running in a Pi with a FLIRC connected so i can use IR commands to control the rest of my smart home stuff.

aww999

Original Poster:

1,974 posts

199 months

Saturday 19th January
quotequote all
Thanks for all the responses. I weighed up all of the opinions, and then Amazon did a big sale on the Harmony Elite so I bought one smile

I love the PS4 controls, but everything else is enormously frustrating. Can anyone help with the issues below?

1) Sky Q box won't turn off. Going into the device menu and pressing power toggle turns it off, so it knows the command, the device is set to "turn off when not in use", "turn off sky box" appears in the "end activity" menu. I've tried relearning the command, creating the activity from scratch, adding an extra "Sky power toggle" command into the end activity command list. It just won't do what I am telling it!

2) Can't operate volume up/down unless I'm already in an activity. If I'm watching TV late at night I turn the volume down before I turn on the sky box etc so it doesn't wake the whole house up. I've tried assigning the volume control to the hard buttons at the bottom of the remote, but those are reserved for smart home items apparently with no way to change them! Can I make them send IR commands?

3) Can't switch TV back to the Sky input as part of the "end PS4" activity. You can only choose from a restricted list of commands in the start/end activity macros, and can't reorder them freely either.

Is there some sort of "I know what I'm doing!" mode to unlock the programming software and let the user work out the command logic, instead of the device trying to work it all out for you and getting it wrong?

I would have posted this on the Harmony forum, but I can't get registration to work on there either! punch

RogerDodger

701 posts

32 months

Sunday 20th January
quotequote all
All of what you are trying to do is very standard and simple with the harmony elite ( I have it). Are you using the pc app, or are you using a web app or Android app? The pc app is fully featured and very intuitive.

I used to have a pronto setup and there is no way I'd go back. The harmony setup is so intuitive and easy to edit.

With the volume issue. You can set what buttons do as a default . You can set them per activity and per device. I have reprogrammed the home automation buttons to do what I like - though it is home automation. I have them turn the hall lights on and off.

Edited by RogerDodger on Sunday 20th January 10:10