RTI T4 Universal Controller St. John's NL
RTI T4 Universal Controller
June 23, 2008 By Dennis Burger
Or: How RTI’s T4 Universal Controller taught me to stop worrying and love my custom installer.
Whatever you’re doing right now, stop, call your custom installation firm, and thank them. Thank them for the countless hours they put into designing seamless control systems for your entertainment and automation systems. Thank them for being part artist, part mechanic, and part IT specialist. And, if you’re not convinced that they deserve your thanks for all of this, try getting your hands on RTI’s T4 Universal Controller and programming it yourself.
I don’t mean this as a slight against RTI. The company’s reputation in the custom installation field is strong and well deserved. For years, RTI has provided system integrators with flexible and relatively inexpensive control systems that combine the familiarity of hard-button, handheld universal remotes with down-to-the-individual-button programming capabilities, as well as small, customizable LCD touchscreens.
The T4 Universal Controller ups the ante with a 6.4-inch, 640-by-480-pixel LCD touchscreen; a powerful 400-megahertz microprocessor; a generous 32 megabytes of memory; stereo speakers; and a chic, elegant form factor that’s small enough to rest on a knee (or be held with one hand and operated with the other) yet large enough to be operated without a stylus, even for those of us with cucumbersome fingers.
Fortunately, you won’t have to program this beautiful beast yourself. In fact, you can’t: As with all of RTI’s controllers, the T4 is only sold through authorized dealers, and only said dealers have access to the company’s Integration Designer software—a labyrinthine program that reduces me to a slack-jawed stupor almost immediately. That’s my own fault, though. I figured, given all of my recent experience with remotes and touchscreens, I could skip RTI’s Advanced Control University course and dive right in. Obviously, I figured wrong. On my own, I can’t even figure out how to bring up a screen, much less add a button to it.
After spending three hours taking the course, I understand why I couldn’t make heads or tails of Integration Designer. RTI’s software isn’t merely a Play-Doh Fun Factory with which one stamps out prefab designs. You’re not merely tinkering with other people’s templates here, putting your own touches on preprogrammed routines. Rather, you’re creating from scratch, with complete control over the look, feel, and placement of every button. Your installer has the power to create whatever he or she can come up with, functionally and graphically.
Of course, as the great philosopher Stanley Martin Lieber taught us, the freedom afforded by that much power carries with it an equal burden of responsibility. It takes me two days to create my first interface, plus another few hours of bug testing before it works the way I want it to. But, in the end, I have exactly the onscreen interface I want. Perhaps it is a bit more comp...