Control4 Home Automation Whitehorse YT
Control4 Home Automation
October 1, 2007 By Marshal M. Rosenthal
My wife complains that she can't ever watch anything on her own because my elaborate home theater system is too difficult to operate. Frankly, even I wish it wasn't so darn complicated just to get a TV show or movie going. It would be great if all my audio and video equipment could just work together automatically, but I've yet to find a simple way of doing this. That is, until Control4 and custom installer Roget Bardeau of Reference Designs Inc. came over to help me discover just what a snap it can be to integrate all of your audio and video components, and do even more with them than you thought possible.
Control4 provides a comprehensive yet simple platform for home automation—including intelligent control of audio and video components, lighting, heating/air conditioning, and security—in a manner that is neither complicated to understand nor complex to use. Unlike most automation systems geared toward high-end custom-built homes, Control4's line requires no invasive wiring or special enclosures, so it can be used in practically any home or apartment. The Control4 solutions are highly customizable and can be designed to fit one's particular lifestyle and budget.
Getting started with Control4 costs as little as $599 for a basic home theater control system with a fairly conventional remote control. The company also offers freestanding and in-wall touchscreens, in-wall keypads, wireless light dimmers and thermostats, and an array of audio/video components. The cost of a full-blown system depends on how many touchscreens and keypads you want, how much home automation you desire, and the size of your house, but a fairly typical system with a lot of options might run around $10,000 plus installation and programming. That's already much less than most competing systems, but the real magic of Control4 is that the programming process is greatly simplified-the programming for an AMX or Crestron automation system often costs tens of thousands of dollars and takes weeks, but Bardeau needs only two days to install and program my Control4 system. The downside is that it uses only Control4's supplied control screen templates, and offers little opportunity for an installer to customize the look and feel of the system.
The center of the action in the system that Bardeau installs in my apartment is the Control4 Media Controller , which works as both an 80-gigabyte audio server and as the brain behind the home automation functions. It takes commands from the various touchscreens, keypads, and remotes, and spits them back out to all the controlled devices through wireless transmission, through infrared flashers attached to the fronts of my audio/video components, or through various relay and contact closures. With the physical connections done, Bardeau pulls out his laptop, connects to my home network and accesses a Control4 database online that has the specific codes for thousands of components. He down...