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Expo Opens Up Arms To Control Freaks

Denver – Control freaks will feel comfortable at the CEDIA Expo, where suppliers are applying new technologies and methods for centrally controlling home systems throughout the house from the same touchscreen or keypad.

Touchscreens have been the preferred way to integrate whole-house control of multiple systems, but Elan is showing an in-wall controller that it said combines the advantages of touchscreens and keypad systems. Crestron is touting a handheld Wi-Fi remote top control all home systems. And Russound is showing its first tabletop touchscreen for its RNET distributed-audio system.

Here is a sampling of new control options appearing at the Expo:

Convergent Living: The company is adding built-in drivers for two-way control of custom systems from more than 10 additional suppliers for its Companion touchscreen controllers, which require no outboard “central brain” to integrate the control of disparate home systems, including HVAC and A/V.

The controllers interface directly with serial-port devices and, via other-brand accessories, to IR-and IP-controlled components, delivering plug-and-play control with Flash-animated interface designs, the company said.

The latest drivers operate the Netstreams Digilinx multiroom system, Polk’s XM Tuner, Russound RNET-databus multiroom systems, Clipsal C-Bus lighting, Lutron’s Homeworks lighting system, UPB Digital Lighting, NuVo Concerto and Essentia preamps, and Custom Windows Media Center/Xbox.

The in-wall Companion 8 at a suggested $3,450 and Companion 15, a desk or surface-mount model at $4,485, are part of a suite of controller that include the Muse, a Wi-Fi handheld at $4,357.

Crestron: The newest touchpanel in the company’s Isys touchpanel series is the company’s first handheld remote with two-way Wi-Fi connectivity to control home systems, including multiroom audio, HVAC, lighting, and motorized shades. It features hard buttons and LCD touchpanel.

By using two-way Wi-Fi, the $1,990-suggested TPMC-4X displays dynamic graphics, improved status feedback, and streaming video from security cameras or other sources in motion jpeg format.

The TPMC-4X connects wirelessly to Crestron control systems that integrate with other home systems. It features 3.5-inch touchscreen, 17 programmable backlit buttons, and on-screed virtual keyboard to select songs for playback from a music server.

Elan: The company is touting its Ole in-wall controller as a cross between a touchpanel and a keypad. The $380-suggested Ole, said to be the first with an organic LED (OLED) display, is promoted as delivering keypad simplicity with an LCD touchpanel’s speed.

To accomplish these goals, Elan uses thin touch-sensitive film that slides into the controller. Different films have 13, 17 or 25 touch-sensitive hot spots to deliver basic control over a multiroom-audio system to control over multiple home systems. A 1-inch OLED display shows icons and displays metadata.

To integrate with different home decors, the films feature photographic-quality pictures that are backlit. Initially, eight families of film styles will be available, including a flamenco-themed film.

Russound: The UNO-TS2 is the first tabletop version is of the company’s in-wall touchscreen controller for multiroom-audio systems based on its RNET databus system. Due in October at a suggested $1,499, the device features 3.75-inch color LCD display, 320×240 resolution, and IR receiver hidden behind a tinted window for handheld-remote control of the RNET system, RNET-equipped source components such as tuners and media servers, and legacy source components.

Hard keys are included for common functions such as volume and channel selection, and touchpanel buttons can be customized. The screen also displays source metadata.