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Today’s Show:

Home Automation – Control4

Lately we have become big fans of home automation. While not exactly home theater, home automation is like a first cousin. Home automation is routinely used to control home theaters. After all who wouldn’t want to press one button on a controller and have the lights dim, audio system turn on, and have the projector playing the latest movie off your video server?

Even if you don’t have a dedicated home theater you can benefit from home automation. Ara built out a sophisticated system with DIY components that monitor his home, automate lights and even let him know if the garage door has been left open for more than 15 minutes. We both use Insteon products (full disclosure, The HT Guys are Smarthome affiliates) but there are other solutions as well. Over the coming weeks we will be featuring different systems on our podcast, today its Control4.

Control4

(From the Control4 website) Control4 manufactures a complete line of affordable wired and wireless automation products, making safety, convenience, comfort and economy available to virtually anyone. Control4 wireless products can be installed in any residence in just a few hours, without the need for extensive or expensive remodeling. Not only can users easily customize their Control4 system to meet their unique lifestyles, but the modular nature of the products also enables customers to start small and add to their systems over time. Control4 products deliver a complete solution by integrating the control of lighting, audio, video, landscape and climate into a single easy-to-use system.

Control4 offers lighting control, Audio/Video systems, touch screens, keypads and controllers. In the Control4 system the controller is the central point for everything. Music, video, lights, HVAC and so on are coordinated through the controller via Ethernet, IR, RF, and even RS-232. Control4 features support for Apple’s iPod, Sony’s Blu Ray Disc Changer as well as other devices from well known manufacturers. They also have their own media players, multi-zone amps and switches. Essentially you can route any source to any room in the house. There is full support for lighting and climate control via their switches, dimmers, and thermostats. You can see how this can get insane very quickly!

Control of the system is done through remotes, touch screens, or the iPod or iPad. These can be hand held, in wall, or table top devices and they are quite expensive. By the way, the iPad app is free to download but you need to contact your dealer to purchase a license. The consensus online seems to be about $100 for the license.

The system is extremely powerful and sexy! The power comes at a cost however. This is not something you can install on your own. It requires that you hire an installer who will design a system specifically for you. The nice thing about using an experienced installer is that he has designed many systems and will suggest things that you never would have thought about. The drawback is that you are paying for this service in addition to the cost of the equipment so it can become expensive quickly.

Pros:

  • Third Party Support – SONY, Denon, Pioneer, Yamaha, Samsung, Integra, and Others
  • Standard Communication – Ethernet, Wireless
  • App Store – Facebook, Twitter, First-Aid, and more. Apps not free.
  • Mobile Device Support – iPad/Phone/Pod Touch, Blackberry, Droid
  • Easily upgradeable

Cons:

  • Expensive – A fully equipped home can easily reach $30K or more.
  • No DIY option – need to go through an installer which adds to the cost.

Download Episode #424


Posted by The HT Guys, May 6, 2010 11:32 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.