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Philips Turns Palm Devices into Remotes

Royal Philips Electronics is looking to capitalize on the massive popularity of Palm OS handhelds by offering consumers what might be the final word on universal remote controls.

Philips Wednesday launched ProntoLite personal remote-control software for Palm OS. The software is based on the software Philips utilizes in its Pronto line of display-centric remote controls, and allows users to configure their PDAs to control up to 10 audio/visual (A/V) devices, from TVs to VCRs, CD players, DVD players and set-top boxes.

The software utilizes a series of configurable, soft-screen templates -- or device pages -- to mimic the functionality of each A/V remote. ProntoLite utilizes the PDA's infrared port to send IR signals to different devices after "teaching" the software the IR signals of the various remote controls. ProntoLite controls the IrDA port on Pal OS-based devices to analyze, store and re-transmit the signal.

"ProntoLite optimizes the convenience of the Palm OS," said Ivo Lurvink, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Philips Components' Emerging Electronics Solutions. "Users always have their Palm with them, which is very different from traditional remotes. As a result, on 'remote' can now control devices at home, in the office or on the road."

Fully registered versions of the ProntoLite software are available from Philips and authorized distributors for $19.95. Philips has also made evaluation copies, good for 15 days of free use, available.