Anyone who says installers will always pull wire might be pulling your chain.
Here at the CEDIA Expo, suppliers introduced systems that distribute control signals and content wirelessly. At least two companies, for example, showed wireless transmitters and receivers that distribute high-definition video without wires. They were Avocent and Gefen.
More products incorporating the rival Z-Wave and Zigbee wireless-control mesh-network technologies also turned up. AMX launched its first Zigbee products. Leviton introduced its first Z-Wave products, and Intermatic expanded its Z-Wave selection.
For its part, Remote Technologies announced an RF remote that integrates control of home theaters with lighting and motorized shades. A Zigbee upgrade to the device is in the works.
To the relief of some installers, many of the wireless products require expertise to configure or to integrate into wired home systems.
Here's what installers found, from A (AMX) to U (Universal):
AMX: The company's first Zigbee devices are two handheld remotes, a Zigbee mesh-network repeater, and a gateway, which delivers RF remote control of connected AMX home-control systems and other Zigbee-equipped systems.
The Mio Modero R-4 remote features a 2.4-inch color LCD touch display, 28 pushbuttons, and three navigation buttons. The R-4 also displays feedback on device status, including room temperature and lighting levels to the song title and artist being played by an AMX multimedia server.
The Mio Modero R-3 remote offers monochrome LCD display, which indicates the current device being controlled, and 45 backlit laser-engraved buttons, which can be customized for individual homes. Three buttons activate macros or pre-determined sequences of events, six are slated for accessing individual devices, and the remaining 36 represent specific operating functions for each device.
One NXA-ZGW NetLinx ZigBee Gateway manages the entire AMX ZigBee mesh network and any other Zigbee devices.
The Mio R-4, gateway and repeater will be available within 90 days of the show, and the Mio R-3 will be available within 120 days. Pricing was unavailable.
Avocent: The new Emerge MPX1000 HD Multipoint Extender system distributes audio and high-definition video digitally over a CAT-5 Ethernet network or via embedded wireless transceiver combining 5GHz IEEE802.11a-based radio with a specialized protocol. Wired range is 3,000 feet. Wireless range is up to 150 feet through three interior residential walls consisting of wallboard with metal studs.
The system consists of a transmitter and a receiver. Each HDMI-equipped video source, such as a DVR, gets its own transmitter to distribute HTCP-compliant 720p and 1,080i video to an HDMI-equipped display. Each transmitter distributes video either over a wired Ethernet network or wirelessly, but not both simultaneously. At launch, the system supports two wireless transmitters operating simultaneously or four wired transmitters.
The transmitters and receivers aren't installed in wall plates but are intended for placement behind a display or in a rack.
Pricing was unavailable.
Gefen: The company launched its first wireless HDMI Extender to deliver wire-free high definition video up to 60 feet.
The $499 system delivers HD 720p and 1,080i video up to 60 feet from satellite set top boxes, HD DVD players, and gaming systems with plug-and-play installation and full digital and analog audio support, the company said.
Compact sender and receiver units deliver HDCP-compliant high definition video and audio soundtracks in compressed and encrypted format for delivery through the HDMI connector on the display or projector.
Wireless transmission speeds are achieved up to 480 Mbps, supporting even the most stringent demands of high-definition video.
The sender also accepts video from component and composite sources with a separate analog audio input. The receiver outputs in HDMI 1.2a, essentially functioning as a format converter for incorporating legacy components, the company said.
The devices incorporate Tzero Technologies' ultra wideband (UWB) technology, said to deliver the same quality of service as wired products.
Leviton: The company is expanding its wireless commitment with the adoption of wireless Z-Wave technology in Leviton's first family of wireless RF products, all in the Vizia lighting-control line.
Leviton, one of the 125 companies in the Z-Wave Alliance, is launching lighting switches and dimmers, in-wall keypads, a handheld remote, and plug-in appliance and lamp modules.
Intermatic: An expanded line of Z-Wave-equipped lighting controls includes a USB stick and ControlThink PC program enabling PC-based control of a Z-Wave home control system that includes lighting controls and appliance modules, dimmers, and a new screw-in lamp module that can be used with incandescent and compact-fluorescent bulbs in lampposts and other out-of–the-way lights
Intermatic sells its HomeSettings line of Z-Wave devices through Lowe's, Fry's, HomeSeer.com, and SmartHome.com.
Lagotek: The company's Home Intelligence system, which controls home devices equipped with Z-Wave or Wi-Fi, has been expanded to control Slim Device's Wi-Fi-based digital media players (DMPs), which stream music from a PC to a stereo system. The Lagotek system also controls Roku Wi-Fi-based DMPs.
Lagotek's system includes the HIP 100 Intelligent Controller (an in-wall touchscreen) and HIP 200 Wireless Interface Hub, which connects via wires to other home systems to deliver wireless control. The system can be installed in new or existing homes for as little as $10,000, including all components, installation, and configuration, the company said.
Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI):With touch screen IR and RS-232 controllers under its belt, RTI launched an IR/RF remote to control to control a home theater, lighting, multiroom audio, and other interfaced home systems that use IR and RS-232 connectors. The T2-C features color LCD touch screen and 35 hard buttons. It's due in the fall. Pricing was unavailable.
Universal Electronics:The remote company adopted wireless Z-Wave to deliver Sirius satellite Radio metadata to a handheld RF/IR preprogrammed/learning remote, which controls a bundled Sirius tuner and connected other-brand A/V receivers.
The capabilities are part of the Sirius Conductor, a $149-suggested package due in November from Sirius.
Conductor features an integrated Sirius tuner/RF-to-IR bridge with IR blaster, which integrates the control of the Sirius tuner with a connected A/V receiver. Hitting the Sirius button on the remote lights up the A/V receiver and switches the receiver to the correct input, the company said.
Like the bundled Sirius tuner, the connected receiver will turn on and switch inputs while inside a closed cabinet because the universal remote converts select IR commands to an RF signal, which the tuner/bridge then reconverts to IR for blasting. Other A/V receiver functions, however, must be controlled via line-of-sight IR from the remote.
Consumers can create a two-zone Sirius system by plugging a separate Sirius Connect-and-Play tuner into the Conductor and, in turn, connecting the Conductor to a two-zone A/V receiver.
In another announcement, Universal unveiled an OEM Z-Wave remote that integrates the control of A/V systems and lighting systems. It's said to be more affordable than competing models retail priced at several hundred dollars and up, the company said.