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New Integrated Systems Getting It Together

9/09/2009 09:00:00 AM Eastern

CEDIA Expo 2009 Atlanta - Maybe the housing market hasn't gotten it together yet, but new home-control products are getting it together by integrating the control of multiple home systems.

Here at the CEDIA Expo, Colorado VNet is adding its first Wi-Fi-equipped handheld touchscreens to control all home systems, and Lutron is adding A/V-system and thermostat control for the first time to its wireless lighting systems. On-Q/Legrand is unifying control of three of its previously separate home systems.

OOmnitouch 5.7e touchscreenther integrated-system launches include Crestron's first wireless home-control system and Schlage's entry into the wireless Z-Wave home-control category. Here's what these and other integrated-systems suppliers will exhibit.

Colorado vNet: The maker of Vibe IP-based multiroom-AV systems and other IP-based systems is adding Blu-ray archiving capability to its Vibe AV servers, which already archive movie DVDs, CDs, and photos.

In other developments, the company is:

  • adding 4.7- and 7-inch touchscreens with a choice of 50 watt digital amplifier, 100 watt digital amplifier, or no amplifier, with dozens of bezel options to match decor.
  • launching its first WiFi-equipped handheld tablets to control all home systems, including AV.
  • adding a universal-remote-type capability to its handheld and in-wall/tabletop touchscreens to deliver full control of all A/V components in a home theater system in the same room.

The company's touchscreens already controlled the company's Vibe multiroom-audio and lighting systems as well as third-party systems such as security, HVAC, CCTV cameras, and shades

At the show, the company is adding Blu-ray archiving to its Vibe video systems to enable remote playback of Blu-ray movie discs stored on the Vibe Server/Player or on a Vibe NAS device. The servers and players incorporate Blu-ray drive to play back inserted discs and to archive BD movies on the servers. Up to six different Blu-ray movies will stream simultaneously to different Vibe video players from the NAS.

The Vibe video servers also store AV content and photos transferred from a networked PC.

In handheld WiFi tablets, the company will display its first RF-equipped handheld models, which incorporate WiFi and come in two sizes, 4.1-inch and 8.9-inch, for whole-house control. Additional details were unavailable.

These tablets, as well as the company's existing in-wall/tabletop models, also control the company's wired and wireless lighting systems, third party security cameras, and other-brand home systems such as HVAC systems and motorized shades.

Crestron: It plans to broaden its customer base with the launch of a Prodigy line of home-control gear, which uses wireless control signals and a software set-up wizard to help bring the company's brand to lower priced installations.

Wireless devices include a handheld RF remote, home-theater/media controller, in-wall lighting controls and dimmers, thermostat, wireless in-wall multi-zone audio keypad, wireless repeater, and gateway to control wireless lighting and thermostats.

Home Automation Inc.: The new IP-based OmniTouch 5.7e in-wall touchscreen with optional tabletop stand uses a single Ethernet cable to control all home systems, including lights, thermostat, and security, and it controls A/V systems when used with HAI's Home Theater Extender, which incorporates a database of more than 300,000 IR codes and an IR eye to learn additional codes. It gets power over the Ethernet cable as well. Multiple faceplate colors are available.

The company also plans to make the 5.7e and the OmniTouch 10p touchscreen compatible with Russound multi-room-A/V systems. The screens will display an emulated Russound keypad.

Lutron: The company is revamping two wireless-RF lighting-control systems to incorporate more robust Clear Connect RF Technology), wireless control of home-A/V systems and control of Lutron's first wireless thermostats.

The upgraded versions are the top-end HomeWorks QS Wireless and the RadioRA2, which ship in April 2010 and the fourth quarter of 2009, respectively. Their keypads will control such basic A/V-system functions as on/off, volume and mute. Both systems also get new energy-management features, such as wireless instead of wired occupancy sensors to turn off lights when no one is around. Both also add daylight sensors to automatically balance light output with interior daylight.

To those features, the HomeWorks adds dimming of fluorescent and LED lights, energy-use tracking via a display screen and solar adaptive shading, which calculates the best position for a motorized window treatments and shades based on time of day and a window's location.

Like before, both systems wirelessly control compatible motorized window treatments and shades.

HomeWorks QS systems connect up to 1,500 devices. RadioRA2 connects up to 200 devices and features a wireless handheld Pico keypad that doubles as a wall-mounted or tabletop keypad.

On-Q/Legrand: The new Unity Home System integrates the control of three separate Studio Collection home systems: multi-room audio, intercom and security cameras. All are targeted to first-time new-home buyers because of their price and ease of setup. Unity is also promoted as the first such system of its kind for production homes.

Unity consists of an Integration Module, which connects and controls the three other systems, and an in-wall LCD console. The console is a 7-inch color LCD-screen controller with hard buttons. The integrated systems can also be controlled from a Unity GUI appearing on a TV display. All components connect via CAT-5 cables.

The approximate installed price of a four-room Unity system with four rooms of intercom, a video door unit, one LCD console and four rooms of single-source audio ranges from $5,500 to $6,000.

Schlage:  A first-timer to CEDIA Expo, Schlage is here to show home-automation products based on the Z-Wave wireless mesh-network standard.

Although Schlage's Z-Wave devices are available through do-it-yourself retail channels, the company is also positioning them as an entry-level home-automation solution that installers can target to new or previous customers with little time or acumen to do it themselves.

For previous custom customers, installers can also offer Schlage's planned RS-232 to Z-Wave adapter to integrate the control of Z-Wave products into previously installed home-control systems. The adapter supports Z-Wave's secure-device and lock-device class profiles, which extend Z-Wave control to battery-equipped locks. The adapter will be previewed at the CEDIA Expo and will be available only to custom installers in the first quarter of next year.

Schneider Electric: New home-automation products are planned in the Clipsal line.

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