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Proton iRemote iR800 Remote Control Review
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Proton iRemote iR800
Click to enlarge. (34kb)
Bright & very, very blue.
The iR800’s LCD touchscreen, complete with all hard buttons, are backlit in the same bright blue. Although at first glance the remote seems to use a standard blue electroluminescent panel, this is not actually the case – it employs a number of small-but-bright blue LEDs set in the middle of the remote, just below the LCD panel. The venerable LED has almost been completely dropped from use as screen backlighting, since newer electroluminescent (EL) panels provide a much more even light and consume very little power. Still, the iRemote does a commendable job of uniformly lighting even the far corners of the remote, and can claim the distinction of being the first remote control to use blue LEDs in any fashion.

In fact, the iRemote holds two other distinctions: it has absolutely the brightest and bluest backlighting I’ve ever seen, and it’s the first remote where the backlight actually makes the screen more difficult to read. Wait - let me explain that last one.

Black & white & shades of grey.
The LCD’s contrast level under normal lighting is underwhelming to begin with and, when the backlight turns on, it gets far worse as letters turn a medium blue. Looking straight at the remote it’s difficult to see much except for an intensely glowing blue panel – tilt it a certain direction and the grid that makes up the touch sensitive layer becomes more visible than the button’s content. It turns out that, with the backlight, text and icons are only readable when the remote is at an angle, as if it was pointed towards the television (not always an angle at which LCD remotes are used). Think of it as being like the privacy screens found on certain laptop computers – except in this case only the people near you can see anything!

Proton iRemote iR800
Click to enlarge. (60kb)
This backlighting problem is compounded by three additional factors: an unusually thin font used for the rather small text labels; hotspots created by the LEDs that drown out the lower half of the bottom three LCD squares; plus uneven contrast on the LCD panel itself. Even under good ambient lighting the screen’s contrast tends to fluctuate depending on what’s being shown, and the top two lines of pixels in the dot matrix region are noticeably weaker than the rest. According to Proton, the contrast level is not user adjustable.

Why the screen has these issues is a mystery – previous examples from the manufacturer have been excellent. It could be due, at least in part, to the unusual LED sidelighting technique, or perhaps with how the LCD screen is being driven. Unlike most black and white iconic panels, Proton has tried to make use of different shades of text. When configuring the iRemote the previous menu item is shown in light grey, something I haven’t seen before on this type of screen.

Surprisingly easy configuration.
First-time setup of the iRemote is exceptionally straightforward thanks to hierarchal text menus. Holding the [Setup/Page] button for three seconds enters the setup menu. The top of the screen displays the currently active item, while LCD navigation keys indicate what can be done. The first menu choice is “Device”, with [Up], [Down], [OK] and [Exit] buttons active. Pressing either direction selects a new setup category, “Exit” exits the setup menu, while pressing “OK” displays three further options to add, remove or relabel a component.

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