Home Automation Controllers: Time to Move Outside the Box
Today’s modern home is rich with technology that enhances the lifestyle, entertainment, and security needs of its occupants while at home and from afar. Electronic systems handle the automation and control of lighting and motorized shades, distributed audio and video, home security, wine cellar management and energy saving systems that monitor the homes carbon footprint and help to reduce energy costs.
The heart of every home automation system is the remote, through which the user communicates desired commands to the system. All it takes is a simple press, tap or swipe and users can peruse the feature rich pages for their home’s lighting, electronics, audio devices and more. When programmed correctly, by a professional who knows what they’re doing, the result is an unparalleled easy-to-use control experience that the entire family can enjoy.
Traditional Savant 9-Inch Tabletop Control
Until very recently, these remotes were extremely pricey, costing anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for a 10-inch color screen controller, with many systems having up to a dozen in-wall and handhelds throughout the home. These remotes were purpose-built to handle the specific needs of the connected home lifestyle. But today, there’s some very serious competition and it doesn’t come from within the home customization industry – it comes from bellwether Apple. Specifically, the Apple iPad is what is changing the customization industry.
To put things into perspective, the home customization industry has been installing home automation systems for nearly 40 years. It’s estimated that nearly 1,000,000 purpose-built touch panels have been manufactured and sold since then. In comparison, a staggering 3,000,000 iPads were sold in just 80 days! The iPad is sleek, lightweight, boasts a revolutionary high-resolution 10-inch capacitive touch screen and a tried and trued software platform – and only costs $499. Keep in mind, a purpose built controller with similar functionality and specifications made by Crestron, AMX, or Savant will run you anywhere from $3,000-$5,000.
Apple 9.7″ LED-Backlight iPad
The price difference and revolutionary design of the iPad has led category leader, Savant Systems LLC., to announce that it will discontinue its dedicated touch panels and begin phasing out its 5-, 7-, 9- and 12-inch touch panel lines – replacing them all with the iPad. This is a bold move and at the same time a compliment to the iPad’s interface. End users benefit because they get a feature rich system at a lower price point and dealers increase revenue by selling more systems. It’s a win-win for everyone.
This doesn’t mean, however, that every manufacturer is going to halt production of their touch panel products. As the first and only Apple-based control, automation and entertainment system solution, Savant Systems has been able to mesh the Apple iPad with its control system products better than anyone else in the industry. The connection to the system is faster, the experience is more fluid, and the capabilities for design and programming are greater than any other system currently on the market. It is because of Savant’s integration of Apple’s latest operating system – Mac OS X Snow Leopard – that allows programmers to create a truly remarkable experience. Some unique features of the Savant system include Mac security and reliability, MobileMe integration, iTunes natively built into the system, Apple Remote Desktop for unparalleled support, QuickTime video and the ability to pull up on-screen widgets such as stock and news as you would on a Mac computer.
In an industry marred with expensive touch panel controllers, it’s refreshing to see industry leading control manufacturer Savant Systems step outside of the box to drop production of its touch panel line to take advantage of Apple’s mass-market appeal and give end-users the ultimate whole-home system controllers for as low as $499.
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