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Home Systems Control Takes Control Of CEDIA

The number of ways to control home systems got out of control during the CEDIA Expo.

LCD touchscreens, hard-button keypads with LCD displays, touch-sensitive flat panels and handheld touchscreens were just some of the ways that installers found to control one or more home systems. Adding to the choices were the multiple pipes that could be used to transmit control signals, including CAT-5 cable and wireless Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and ZigBee.

During the CEDIA Expo, installers found:

  • NetStreams and Elan expanding their selection of in-wall touchscreens;
  • Elan adding its second OLED in-wall touchpanel with control via touch-sensitive film;
  • Audio Design Associates entering the LCD touchscreen market;
  • Niles launching its most sophisticated wireless handheld touchscreen to date; and
  • Marantz and Elan introducing their first Wi-Fi remotes.

Here’s what installers touched from select companies:

Audio Design Associates: The company’s first in-wall LCD touchscreen, intended for its multiroom-A/V systems, is the $1,299 TS-5000. The two-gang, CAT-5-connected model with 4-inch TFT screen requires no programming, features five lines of text display for metadata and other text, features IR eye and enables users to control system playback in other rooms.

The $499 MC-7000 is a CAT-5-connected in-wall keypad that expands the number of LCD-display lines to five lines.

Elan: At a suggested $1,200, Elan’s first handheld LCD-touchscreen remote incorporates Wi-Fi, 4.13-inch widescreen display, metadata display, Internet access, Web browsing and control over all Elan multiroom audio systems with two-way feedback.

It also controls other home systems, including lighting, HVAC and security, in all system zones throughout the home and features real-time onscreen status display for lighting, temperature and security systems as well as instant “Now Playing” information from iPods, XM Radio and more.

Other features include a full finger keyboard for email and ability to stream audio and video. Additional details were unavailable.

The company is also expanding its Ole series of in-wall touchpads with a step-up $580-suggested OleXL, which features replaceable photo-quality films with touch-sensitive hot spots to control home systems. Its larger 2.1-inch organic LED (OLED) display permits metadata and icon viewing.

It’s said to combine keypad simplicity with an LCD touchscreen’s speed at a cost lower than a touchscreen. To accomplish these goals, Elan uses thin touch-sensitive film that slides into the controller.

The XL’s larger display provides six lines with 16 characters per line compared with the two 16-character lines of the $380 version, which remains in the line. The larger OLED also lets programmers lay out active, custom-labeled icons and control buttons around the OLED area to create source-select pages with source icons, DVD and DVR menu control layouts, and numeric buttons layouts, a spokesman said.

In expanding its in-wall LCD-touchscreen selection, the company is adding new price points and sizes to fill in the gaps in its current series, which ranges in price from $380 to $2,000. Two new sizes are 7 inches and 10 inches for the $1,400-suggested VIA!7.0-EM and $1,800 for the VIA!10.0-EM. They bring new cosmetics to the series, given their availability in the same standard Euro-style wall frames and the same seven colors as the Olé touchpads, to give consumers additional décor-matching potential.

A third new touchscreen is an $850 4-inch model that shares these cosmetic characteristics but doesn’t represent a new size for Elan.

All display video and control multiple home systems.

A fourth touchscreen is also in the works.

Leviton: The company’s ViziaRF lighting and home-control system, based on Z-Wave wireless technology, gets a serial interface module to enable Vizia in-wall keypads and handheld remotes to control RS-232 home systems.

The line also adds Z-Wave window-shade motors to its selection of dimmers, switches, and appliance and lamp modules. The motors will be available through Electronics Solutions, a Hunter Douglas company.

Niles: At a suggested $1,299, the new iRemote TS wireless handheld touchscreen is the new top-end price point at Niles for a handheld touchscreen. Through its touchscreen and hard buttons, it controls the company’s IntelliControl ICS whole-house audio systems and new $999-suggested IC2 home theater automation system, which comes with its own hard-button handheld keypad controller. The TS and the IC2’s controllers use two-way wireless ZigBee technology. The TS displays album art and metadata from music sources and system status.

NetStreams: Two new TouchLinX in-wall wide-screen touchscreens include the company’s largest screen size to date at 7 inches. Both are IP-based for use with the company’s DigiLinX multiroom audio systems, which distribute control signals and audio via an Ethernet network.

The TL700 with 7-inch screen and TL430 with 4.3-inch screen feature higher resolutions than their predecessors and add built-in microphone for intercom use, room-to-room paging, zone monitoring and IR receiver. They display metadata and control integrated home subsystems. Back-lit hard buttons are used for system on/off, paging and volume. The TL700 and TL450 are available at around $3,000 and $1,500, respectively.

Universal Electronics: Two handheld touchscreen controllers unveiled here under the company’s Nevo brand feature Z-Wave and IR to control home A/V systems, and one adds Wi-Fi control of digital media content stored on a wired or wireless home network (see TWCE, Sept. 3, p. 49).