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New Touch Panels Getting It Together

Systems integrators are tying all of a home’s subsystem controls together into a single control panel, and more often than not, the control panel is a touch screen.

Here at the CEDIA Expo, suppliers planning to unveil new models include the following:

Crestron: The company ties disparate home subsystems together through a new handheld wireless touch panel, the battery-operated STX-1700CXP. It is the company’s first touch panel to use two-way 2.4GHz spread-spectrum technology to control subsystems from a distance up to 150 feet. It features a 5.7-inch active-matrix color touch panel with five programmable and engraveable push buttons on each side. It’s available at a suggested $4,400.

The touch panel can be used with the new $15,000 DVP4-DI digital video processor/matrix switcher to display four video windows of scalable size on a large high-resolution projector or plasma screen. The windows can display security-camera video as well as other video sources via DVI, RGB, S-video and composite inputs. The device also incorporates advanced deinterlacing and line doubling. Four RS-232 ports allow for control of external devices. When the DI is combined with a Smart Matisse overlay for a 42-inch or 50-inch plasma display, the plasma screen can be used as a touch panel.

The company will also launch the CLW-DIM wall dimmer, which can be linked to Crestron control system via the company’s Cresnet network cable. Dimmers can therefore be controlled from a Crestron touch panel or keypad.

Elan Home Systems: The company plans first-quarter availability of its first wireless touch panel, the 802.11b-equipped VIA!2, at a $3,500 suggested retail price, including the VIA!2 Server Station and Docking Station.

The Docking Station recharges the touch panel’s batteries. The VIA!2 Server Station translates VIA!2 commands into IR or RS232 commands for controlling third-party devices in the home, and it can support multiple VIA!2 touch panels, which are available separately at an unspecified price.

Out of the box, the VIA!2 will control Elan’s distributed-A/V and home automation systems, including the company’s first AM/FM tuner (the dual-tuner DTNR) and the new VIA!dj digital music server. It will also control third-party systems, including security, temperature, lighting and drapery systems.

The touch panel is less than 2 inches thick, features a 7.8-inch LCD screen, and hard buttons to go with the user-interface screens.

Once charged, the touch panel boasts 670 hours in hibernate mode, 24 hours in standby, or 6 hours in full operating mode. Customers who already own a VIA! can incorporate a VIA!2 into the same home system, adding a wireless panel in any location they desire.

Extron: New Ethernet control interfaces use a Web server that makes it possible for most A/V devices and other products to be controlled and monitored from any PC connected to a LAN or to the Internet.

Vantage: The company will introduce a new color touch screen, the TouchPoint C5, to control Vantage lighting and home automation systems. It features active-matrix 5.5-inch quarter-VGA LCD display, a proximity sensor to activate the backlight, and an IR receiver to accept commands from any IR remote. It will control any component connected to a Vantage control system.

The company will also unveil an automation and lighting-control system designed for U.S. and overseas markets. It’s designed for DIN Rail enclosures and wiring systems.

ViewSonic: The company’s V110 and V150 Airpanels are wireless 10-inch and 15-inch color touch screen/monitors at estimated street prices of $799 and $999, respectively. When equipped with Nevo IR-control software and a PC Card-size IR emitter, they can control IR-controllable devices such as TVs, DVD players, lights, fans, curtains and thermostats. The software stores products’ IR control codes. Users can also use the Airpanels to remotely access PC files and applications and surf the Web through their integrated WiFi technology.

The touch screens display the most common keys for each device and let users channel surf by tapping on network logos. They’re currently available.