|Marantz RC5200 Learning Remote Control|
|Home Theater Remotes & System Control Remotes & System Control|
|Written by Richard Elen|
|Sunday, 01 September 2002|
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Most of the drawbacks with using this kind of device are not the fault of the device itself. Particularly in regard to macros, you will have to find solutions to handling devices with undefined states. However, there is one area where the Marantz RC5200 could be improved, and this is the display. A first-generation four-grayscale LCD touch screen, it’s identical to my original Pronto’s display, and both suffer from a lack of contrast and brightness, making it sometimes difficult to see the onscreen information clearly. If you look at the color display on the more recent – and expensive – RC9200, you’ll see that this has been solved: the 9200’s screen is brighter, clearer and in color. In fact, the 9200 has more memory and a faster processor, too.
Other drawbacks are minor In the Pronto, the IR learning “eye” is on the bottom of the device, so you place the new and old remotes one above the other, which makes it easy to teach sequences of buttons, such as numbers or transport controls. The RC5200 has the learning eye at the top, so the two remotes have to face each other, meaning that you have to keep your wits about you in order to press the right pair of buttons. The PC editing software is not the easiest to use, but it does give you direct access to the entire unit and its enormous range of features.
Compared to the equivalent Philips unit, the second-generation Pronto TSU2000, the RC5200 lacks the built-in UEI control code database of the Philips model (and thus offers more room for memory-intensive device sets). This may not be too important if you have Internet access, as you can probably find ccf files for your devices online, but otherwise, the need to use learning capability for every new device is a bit of a pain, especially if you’ve lost an original remote!
There are other differences between the Marantz and the Philips. The RC5200 inherits many of the special Marantz features of its predecessor, the RC5000i. The Marantz variants have additional macro functionality – the ability to program jumps in macros, so for example you can display the DVD control panel while the macro sends a command to the DVD player and then go back to the receiver panel as it sends a receiver command, all while the macro is running. They also have the ability to recall previous screens, allowing for the “back” and “forward” buttons referred to earlier. The Marantz can also learn IR codes up to 455 kHz, while the Philips is limited to 56 kHz. Finally, the 5200’s MSRP is a little higher than the TSU2000, but the Marantz includes the docking station and rechargeable battery, while the Pronto has these as optional extras. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
Overall, the power, flexibility and versatility of the RC5200 and its relatives are second to none, especially with the enormous degree of independent Internet support for these devices in terms of free editing software and available free control panel files for a vast range of components and devices. The additional hard buttons on the RC5200 give it an edge over the Philips equivalents, while the lack of a component database in the Marantz vs. the additional user memory resulting from it not being there is a more difficult decision point.
You really need a remote like this to control the ever more complex components that grace our home theater and audio systems, and the Marantz RC5200 at $599 offers some excellent innovations, notably the additional hard buttons, which Philips, the inventors of the Pronto engine used in the 5200, ought to have thought of themselves. The current best remote in this class, in my personal view, is Philips’ new TSU6000 ProntoPro (which also has more hard buttons), but that lists at $899. So if you’re not intending to spend that kind of money, the Marantz RC5200 is a definite contender among the Pronto-based competition at its price level.
I would advise you to check the different Pronto-based remotes available within your budget and determine which of the variants suits you. If you have lost or damaged the remote for any of your devices and have challenges with Internet access or using the editing software, the Philips TSU2000, with its built-in UEI database, may be your best choice. But if you want that extra RAM, those extra programmable hard buttons and a look that many would consider more stylish, investigate the Marantz RC5200. In any event, if you have a halfway sophisticated home theater installation, a Pronto-based remote is not an option, it’s a necessity, whichever one you choose.