Home Control Goes Wireless

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Installers are getting more options to add wireless touchscreen control of wired home-control systems here at CEDIA Expo this week, where more wireless home-control systems are also making their debut.

Neither development will put installers out of business, however, because most require varying levels of installation expertise.

Here at the show, multiple companies are launching their first home automation products incorporating Z-Wave wireless technology, and other companies are launching new Z-Wave products. The products include the industry's first wireless-controlled door locks, new lighting controls for the retrofit market and a home monitoring system.

Companies launching new wireless touchscreens include Crestron, Control4, and Elan. For its part, Home Automation is launching its first portable wireless LCD touchscreens for its home-control systems.

Other home-control introductions include Control4's lowest-price home controller to date and a new wired touchscreen from Schneider Electric.

Here's what various suppliers are showing:

Crestron: The company is expanding its wireless touchpanel selection with its first model to use the IEEE 802.15.4 personal area network (PAN) wireless technology, which Crestron said avoids "the challenges of Wi-Fi." The company's two other wireless models use Wi-Fi.

The $3,200-suggested TPS-6X 6-inch touchscreen sits in a tabletop stand/charger, where it controls home systems via wired Ethernet or proprietary wired Crestnet technology. When removed from the stand, the battery-equipped touchscreen uses two-way wireless with a range of up to 200 feet. It also features IR transmitter for direct control of devices.

The touchscreen rests on the stand for quick portability, but it can also latch onto the dock to function as a tilting desktop control panel or lock into the dock to operate as a permanent tabletop device.

Features include full-screen full-motion video in wired mode, sleep mode and illuminated pushbuttons for volume, channel selection and onscreen navigation.

Elan: The company is replacing its Windows CE-based wireless touchscreen controller with a model built on the Windows XP OS to offer more customization options, such as customized screen layouts and different screen motifs. XP also brought cover-art display and Web browsing with Flash video to the device.

The XP8.4 features 8.4-inch screen and, like its predecessor, 802.11g Wi-Fi. Range is up to 100 feet from the base station. A tabletop recharging/docking station is included in the $3,350 suggested retail. Shipments begin in the first quarter.

The device features out-of-the-box control of Elan multiroom-A/V systems and Elan sources, and it can be configured to control other home systems, including lighting, HVAC, and security.

Also new: the $2,000-suggested VIA! Valet 10.0-EM wired touchpanel with 10-inch widescreen LCD display. Like the 6.4-inch Via!Valet, it features tabletop and under-cabinet mounting and controls entertainment, lighting, HVAC, and security systems and displays security camera and TV video. It is said to be designed for a kitchen, bar area or workshop. Its pivoting hinge allows the screen to fold up a full 90 degrees until it is parallel with its base. The screen also pivots 45 degrees forward and 330 degrees left/right, allowing it to be positioned just right for optimal viewing.

Home Automation (HAI): The company is launching its first portable wireless LCD touchscreens for its home-control systems, which control multiroom audio systems, lighting systems, HVAC, security systems, small appliances, and pool and spa temperatures. Until now, only other brands of portable touchscreens could be integrated with HAI's systems.

The Wi-Fi-equipped OmniTouch 8P and OmniTouch 10P control any of HAI's Ethernet-enabled controllers. They're due in the fourth quarter with 8-inch and 10-inch screens, respectively. Prices were unavailable at press time. They also display video from IP cameras, Internet-delivered RSS feeds and metadata from a multiroom-audio systems music sources. They also feature a built-in intercom,

Also new: a new version of the in-wall OmniTouch 5.7 touchscreen, this one with infrared receiver that take commands from HAI's handheld IR remotes, programmable remotes programmed with HAI codes, and Russound and NuVo remotes designed for those companies' multiroom-audio systems. A tabletop stand for the 5.7-inch touchscreen is also new.

Installers will also find HAI's WL3 for Windows Home Server software, which enables remote monitoring and control of a HAI system from any browser-equipped device, including PCs, smartphones, iPhones and iPod Touches. The $329 add-in, which is available, requires the use of Windows Home Server and an Ethernet-enabled home-control system.

Home Logic: The Linear brand is adding IP-camera recording to its HDD-equipped home automation controller. The product previously enabled viewing of security-camera video but not recording. Triggerable events such as sensors detecting motion can initiate recording automatically, or a timer can be set to record at various times of the day. The feature is available as an upgrade to existing Home Logic users. Pricing was unavailable.

Schneider Electric: The Square D ClipsalMark II monochrome touchscreen features improved contrast and backlighting over previous models, the company said. It controls Square D lighting-control systems as well as other third-party home systems. Pricing of the wall-mount version and desktop version were unavailable.


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