FrontRunners: Get with the Program

The latest controller in the Pronto family from Philips (www.pronto.philips.com) controls as many as 13 household systems—including A/V components as well as a home’s thermostat and security system—from its touchscreen, but the feature that sets the iPronto apart from the field is its personal electronic program guide. The integrated EPG updates itself from the Internet through a Wi-Fi home network and frees the TV or viewing screen from scrolling listings provided by cable and satellite companies. From an easy chair, a user can search the EPG to find the channel and start time of the Pittsburgh game, use the controller to surf the Steelers’ web site, and then e-mail a buddy rooting for the Broncos. With an eye toward future functions, Philips has included speakers, a built-in microphone, a USB port (for connecting to a PC and mobile devices), and slots for memory cards. The iPronto ($1,700) measures about 9 by 7 inches and weighs less than 2 pounds.

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