URC Adds New Home Controller, Builds Own Sonos Driver

MRX-8 controller provides easier step to two-way control from one-way control
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MRX-8 controller provides easier step to two-way control from one-way control

Harrison, N.Y. – A new home-automation controller shipping in URC’s Total Control line will let installers step consumers up more easily into a two-way home-control system from the company’s one-way Complete Control systems, said marketing director Cat Toomey.

The $599 MRX-8 controller in the Total Control line “delivers the most feature-packed, value-priced home automation system in custom today,” Toomey claimed.

Separately, the company has just begun offering its own free Sonos driver for its Total Control controllers following a six-month lapse in which Sonos drivers from third-party vendor Extra Vegetables were taken off the market by Control4, which purchased the company.

The free Sonos driver lets installers add URC control-system control over all streaming-music sources available through Sonos’s streaming music players, including the PlayBar, Connect and Connect:Amp. The driver also lets installers add wireless music zones incorporating Sonos speakers such as Play:1, Play:3 and Play:5.

The driver not only enables full access to all Sonos streaming sources but also delivers most of the features of Sonos’s own app, the company said. The app was built from scratch because Sonos does not offer APIs to home-automation suppliers.

Also for Total Control installers, URC has begun shipping the new $599 MRX-8. For an unspecified limited time, the price includes all the iOS and Android apps needed by a household. Normally, URC charges $199 for household usage of the URC Mobile iOS app for Total Control systems and another $199 for all the Android apps needed by a household.

The MRX-8 controls all of the same types of systems as the $699 MRX-10 in the Total Control line, but the MRX-10 features more powerful processor to run more zones and more complex systems in larger homes. The MRX-10 also features four RS-232 ports and four sensor ports, whereas the MRX-8 features two of both types in a chassis that’s 25 percent of the size of the MRX-10 chassis.

The new controller is intended for mid-size installs in homes and offices as well as in condos, whereas the $699 MRX-10 and the $1,200 MRX-20 are intended for larger installs. The MRX-20 adds on-screen home automation GUI overlaid on a TV screen while a movie or TV show plays in the background.

The MRX-8 also features six IR outputs, port for an optional Wi-Fi and 2.4GHz RF range extender, port for an optional Z-Wave module, and one dry relay.

All of the Total Control controllers connect to multiroom-audio and home entertainment systems, security systems, lighting system, motorized shades, thermostats, and the like.

The company’s Complete Control systems at around $500 feature one-way instead of two-way control, and they lack Z-Wave capability, thermostat control, and compatibility with URC music sources, streaming network players, and URC’s Vivido Lighting system.

Complete Control is sold mainly through distributors, whereas Total Control products are mainly sold direct to dealers, though early this year, URC added select distributors to Total Control distribution to reach smaller dealers and serve direct and all other dealers who need a product within a day, said Toomey. Dealers served by the Total Control distributors must be approved by URC and undergo training and certification, Toomey noted.


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