Crestron Experience Center Saint John NB
Saint John, NB
Crestron Experience Center
February 16, 2009 By Brent Butterworth
The Crestron Experience Center in Las Vegas is one of the few places in the world delivering hands-on demos of the wonders of home automation.
With its new Las Vegas Experience Center, Crestron—which in home automation is perhaps even more pervasive than Microsoft is in the computer business—seeks to make its creations more accessible to dealers and customers. The Experience Center is one of only a few places in the world where one can witness home automation at work.
Missouri may be the Show-Me State, but face it—we’re living in a Show-Me World. We rarely believe someone’s claims unless they can prove them. We rarely grasp a concept unless we can see it demonstrated. And Internet commerce notwithstanding, we’re rarely content to buy a product unless we’ve tried it first.
These strictures make life tough for the people who sell home automation systems. Such systems are so complex, so customized that it’s prohibitively difficult and expensive for most dealers to set up demo rigs. Their customers generally have to buy on faith. For most of us, that’s a mighty uncomfortable prospect.
Enter the Crestron Experience Center, Las Vegas.
Why Vegas? As anyone who’s been reading the Home Portfolio section in Home Entertainment for a while has probably noticed, Vegas is a hot town for custom home theaters. But perhaps more important, it’s one of the hottest towns in the world for hotels. And according to Crestron, almost all of the town’s luxury hotels—including the MGM Grand, the Venetian, the Wynn, and the new CityCenter—use Crestron gear both for their luxury suites and for their boardrooms and operation centers.
When I heard in late October that the Experience Center was about to open, I grabbed my camera, my iPod, and a handful of cigars and drove up Interstate 15 from Los Angeles to check it out. The Center occupies a suite in an office building a few blocks off the Las Vegas Strip. Although the name Experience Center conjures up images of grand spaces and Disney amusement parks, Crestron’s take is far more conservative: It’s basically an office with lots of Crestron gear on display. But most of the displays are live—touch a button and things actually start to happen.
My tour guide for the visit was Kevin Dry, a Crestron applications engineer and a former custom installer. He started me off with what he seemed to consider Crestron’s greatest point of pride circa late 2008: the Adagio AMS-AIP, which may be the most impressive all-in-one audio unit ever created.
The AMS-AIP packs a whole rack worth of gear into a chassis the size of a large A/V receiver. It incorporates a 7.1 receiver with Dolby Digital, DTS, and 100 watts per channel, but it’s far more than just a receiver.
It also routes sound to four additional rooms (six if you’re using the receiver in 5.1 mode) using internal 45-watt-per-channel digital amps. Cool, huh?
That’s just the start. The AMS-AIP also feat...