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post #1 of 1429 Old 05-20-2005, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
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What is Control4?

A quote from their web site:

Quote:


Control4 offers a complete line of home automation products that makes sophisticated home automation solutions practical and affordable for every home. To find out more, click on the product links above.

Products offer integration and control solutions for lighting, distributed (whole-house) audio, audio/video, climate as well as interfaces with 3rd party products. It utilizes WiFi and ZigBee wireless protocols in addition to ethernet, and may not require extensive rewiring -- ideal for existing homes.

Lot's of information is available on their website, http://www.control4.com/.

Current product line is described at http://www.control4.com/products/com.../complete.htm. The product pages there are required reading for anyone interested in this product.


I've heard it's all buzz and no product.

Products started shipping on April 29, 2005. This was approximately 5 months later than originally announched.

I received my first shipment on May 19th, others got theirs a week or so earlier.


Where can I buy it? I didn't see it at Good Guys / Best Buy / Fry's, etc.

Control4's policy is that they do not sell via retail. Their channel is through dealers and custom installers. So if you plan to acquire Control4 products, you need to find a dealer. Some dealers may be flexible on how work is split between them and their customers.

Tech support is through your dealer.

Products carry a 1 year warranty.

Aside: many posts have focused on how C4 should sell their gear, whether it's fair or not fair, whether customer installers and dealers should or shouldn't be involved. Feel free to go read those threads for insight to the debate.


Is it X10 / PLC based?

No. The control part of the system utilizes ZigBee (IEEE 802.15.4) mesh networking. "Mesh" means that every device is a repeater, so the more devices you have, the more robust the network is.


Is this the only Control4 thread?

No. Here are other ones in chronological order. Keep in mind that these threads started after Fall 2004 CEDIA. At that time, first ship date was to be November 2004 and there's a lot of discussion about vaporware, etc. As of today, the product is shipping, see above.

As far as I know, this is the first mention of Control4 on AVS:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=445561

jgist (Jim Gist) started this thread. He is the Director of Business Development at C4 (or something like that).

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=450480

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=486759

Add-ons to C4 thread

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=535426

Another long one. First discussions of shipping product in this thread.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=524567


How much does it cost?

See jacksonian's post below.

As a ball park, I would say starting in low-mid 4-figures, for a starter package.


Diagrams of sample Control4 Configurations

Before you start asking questions, look at these closely! And read the individual product spec sheets at http://control4.com/products/components/complete.htm -- each product has a pdf with lots of information.
-------

I will update this post with add'l questions and answers if i know them.
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post #2 of 1429 Old 05-20-2005, 05:27 PM
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MSRPs I've been quoted (please feel free to correct and I'll edit so we can keep this all in one post near the top):

Controllers
Media Controller - $1499
Home Theater Controller -
Home Theater Receiver Controller -


Audio
Multi-Channel Amplifier - $1999
Audio Matrix Switcher -
WiFi Speaker Point -
Multi-Tuner AM/FM -
Multi-Tuner AM/FM/XM -

Touchscreens/keypads
10" Wireless Touchscreen - $1999
Mini Touch Screen - $649
Wireless LCD Keypad - $299
Extra Handheld Remote - $149
3 Button Keypad -
6 Button Keypad -

Lighting
Wireless Dimmer - $99
Wireless Switch -
Wireless Outlet Dimmer -

Climate
Wireless Thermostat - $199
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post #3 of 1429 Old 05-20-2005, 10:10 PM
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Hi guys,

This is Eric Smith the CTO and founder of Control4 and of course (maybe I should be afraid to say because of the things I have read here) PHAST. I have been watching the threads both here and on Remote Central Since they started, and honestly I didn't want to get into the fray. This product is essentially my baby as was PHAST, and I didn't want to come off as defensive. I really just wanted to wait and let the product speak for itself.

Thanks to Max for starting this new thread.

I am very impressed by the way you all help each other out here. I am also impressed by the time that some of the professional installers take to chime in (even QQQ).

I can't guarantee that I will be able to be here and reply to issues every day, but I will try to answer questions from time to time.

We knew about the limitations on the music navigation on the remote control when we shipped the product, but we decided that was a minor annoyance compared to putting off shipping the product any further since those issues do not exist on the graphical based "Navigator" interfaces. There will be a patch before the summer is over that will resolve the issue. By the way, I have looked at how you choose a song on the IPod and practically every other digital music player ever conceived (I have a huge collection in my office). I travel with both a 40 gig IPod, and a 1 Gig Shuffle (For running) everywhere I go and I love them.

There have been question about whether the Mini TP has an issue like the one mentioned above. The 10.5" TP, MC (On Screen), and Mini TPs all have essentially the same interface except for some variations based on size, and whether you can touch them. So if you are happy with the interface on the MC, you should be please with the Mini TP and the 10.5" TP.

We will add the ability to configure the ripping bit rate soon, and we are also working finishing the work to support full bit rate .WAV files. FLAC will take a while while we work on a codec that will work with our hardware design.

I have not seen these posted, but in the spirit of full disclosure (because that is the kind of company we are trying to be), you will find as you add lots of music to your system that when you change rooms on any of the "Navigator" interfaces, that there is a substantial delay (i.e. 3 minutes) while the system builds pages. This is currently fixed, and there will be a patch at the end of May to make this very fast. The delay will still be there after you add new music to the first time anyone "refreshes" the navigators or changes rooms.

There was also a question about video switching. It is fairly easy to add almost any video switch to the system, and then the system will automatically manage routing of video signals throughout the house. It will even take care of issues like if you have 3 DSS receivers making sure that if one person is using a receiver that the next person that chooses a channel from the navigator interface that they will get one of the unused receivers. The system also will do the same thing with modulators.

I saw a concern with reliability of light switches. I will openly admit (or even apologize to QQQ, Alan, etc. although I must say that I will not admit any fiscal responsibility as AMX acquired PHAST from me and then pushed me out) that there were MAJOR problems with the early iterations of the PHAST dimmers. Nine months ago I removed my (sill working although the final (i.e. "Swimmer") rev.) PHAST dimmers and put in Control4 dimmers, and they work GREAT! The biggest problem with the PHAST dimmers was that the PHASTLink network referenced ground, and that could cause a single dimmer to lock up the entire network. That is not an issue with the C4 lighting products as they communicate on wireless notwork. They were also susceptible to static and lightning. UL requires a dimmer to not fry below 8000 volts. We decided to set the standard much higher. Our standard was set at 25000 volts (the maximum most static guns can generate), and it was that not only should the device not fry, but to pass our test, it would not even reset. We have also invested in a 6 figure HALT/HASS chamber to do extreme environmental stress testing on the products.

I will close for now, but I will come here often.

P.S. On June 6th we are starting the "4" Real tour. We will visit 31 Cities over 10 weeks. This will be a 4 hour hands on demo and QA session on the products open to anyone, but targeted at current and potential installers/dealers. I will be personally conducting each of these meetings so that you can get the real info right from the source. It will start in Boston and wind its way around the country ending in Seattle in mid August. I will post the dates/locations here when they are finalized. I hope to meet some of you (and QQQ if you reveal yourself I promise not to give up your non Super Hero alter ego (and I really mean that in the nicest way as you really impress me with the time you take to help others out)).
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post #4 of 1429 Old 05-20-2005, 11:20 PM
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" It is fairly easy to add almost any video switch to the system, and then the system will automatically manage routing of video signals throughout the house. It will even take care of issues like if you have 3 DSS receivers making sure that if one person is using a receiver that the next person that chooses a channel from the navigator interface that they will get one of the unused receivers. The system also will do the same thing with modulators."

That is astounding!

I look forward to putting in a few of these systems if that kind of attention to detail is the norm with Control4.

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working.
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post #5 of 1429 Old 05-21-2005, 04:41 AM
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Hi Eric,
Let me be the first to say welcome and thank you for joining us. Your post has already answered several of my big questions.

You mentioned that it would take a while for a FLAC codec that would work with the hardware. I'm starting the process of ripping all of my music to an archive format as well as to MP3. Do you think FLAC would be the most likely compressed lossless format you guys would support? So that would be the best archive file format?
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post #6 of 1429 Old 05-21-2005, 04:55 AM
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Quote:


Originally posted by esmith
Hi guys,

This is Eric Smith the CTO and founder of Control4 and of course (maybe I should be afraid to say because of the things I have read here) PHAST. I have been watching the threads both here and on Remote Central Since they started, and honestly I didn't want to get into the fray. This product is essentially my baby as was PHAST, and I didn't want to come off as defensive. I really just wanted to wait and let the product speak for itself.

Thanks to Max for starting this new thread.

I am very impressed by the way you all help each other out here. I am also impressed by the time that some of the professional installers take to chime in (even QQQ).

I can't guarantee that I will be able to be here and reply to issues every day, but I will try to answer questions from time to time.

We knew about the limitations on the music navigation on the remote control when we shipped the product, but we decided that was a minor annoyance compared to putting off shipping the product any further since those issues do not exist on the graphical based "Navigator" interfaces. There will be a patch before the summer is over that will resolve the issue. By the way, I have looked at how you choose a song on the IPod and practically every other digital music player ever conceived (I have a huge collection in my office). I travel with both a 40 gig IPod, and a 1 Gig Shuffle (For running) everywhere I go and I love them.

There have been question about whether the Mini TP has an issue like the one mentioned above. The 10.5" TP, MC (On Screen), and Mini TPs all have essentially the same interface except for some variations based on size, and whether you can touch them. So if you are happy with the interface on the MC, you should be please with the Mini TP and the 10.5" TP.

We will add the ability to configure the ripping bit rate soon, and we are also working finishing the work to support full bit rate .WAV files. FLAC will take a while while we work on a codec that will work with our hardware design.

I have not seen these posted, but in the spirit of full disclosure (because that is the kind of company we are trying to be), you will find as you add lots of music to your system that when you change rooms on any of the "Navigator" interfaces, that there is a substantial delay (i.e. 3 minutes) while the system builds pages. This is currently fixed, and there will be a patch at the end of May to make this very fast. The delay will still be there after you add new music to the first time anyone "refreshes" the navigators or changes rooms.

There was also a question about video switching. It is fairly easy to add almost any video switch to the system, and then the system will automatically manage routing of video signals throughout the house. It will even take care of issues like if you have 3 DSS receivers making sure that if one person is using a receiver that the next person that chooses a channel from the navigator interface that they will get one of the unused receivers. The system also will do the same thing with modulators.

I saw a concern with reliability of light switches. I will openly admit (or even apologize to QQQ, Alan, etc. although I must say that I will not admit any fiscal responsibility as AMX acquired PHAST from me and then pushed me out) that there were MAJOR problems with the early iterations of the PHAST dimmers. Nine months ago I removed my (sill working although the final (i.e. "Swimmer") rev.) PHAST dimmers and put in Control4 dimmers, and they work GREAT! The biggest problem with the PHAST dimmers was that the PHASTLink network referenced ground, and that could cause a single dimmer to lock up the entire network. That is not an issue with the C4 lighting products as they communicate on wireless notwork. They were also susceptible to static and lightning. UL requires a dimmer to not fry below 8000 volts. We decided to set the standard much higher. Our standard was set at 25000 volts (the maximum most static guns can generate), and it was that not only should the device not fry, but to pass our test, it would not even reset. We have also invested in a 6 figure HALT/HASS chamber to do extreme environmental stress testing on the products.

I will close for now, but I will come here often.

P.S. On June 6th we are starting the "4" Real tour. We will visit 31 Cities over 10 weeks. This will be a 4 hour hands on demo and QA session on the products open to anyone, but targeted at current and potential installers/dealers. I will be personally conducting each of these meetings so that you can get the real info right from the source. It will start in Boston and wind its way around the country ending in Seattle in mid August. I will post the dates/locations here when they are finalized. I hope to meet some of you (and QQQ if you reveal yourself I promise not to give up your non Super Hero alter ego (and I really mean that in the nicest way as you really impress me with the time you take to help others out)).

Eric,

Very funny and charming - glad I caught it. I am impressed with your post and genuinely wish you guys the best of luck. I honestly don't know who was to blame for PHAST - I just know I got screwed !

BTW, the thing I am impressed with the MOST of all by far IF you can pull it off is the auto generation of a REAL preprogrammed user interface. I genuinely believe that is the key to grabbing a HUGE piece of market share and possibly even major dominance for reasons I obviously need not explain to you since that's what you've created (though I still want to see how well you've pulled it off).
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post #7 of 1429 Old 05-21-2005, 07:28 AM
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Thanks for posting Eric .
It isn't very often that a manufacturer, let alone the CTO, responds on this forum . You've not only answered some technical questions, but also a thorny political one (Phast) .
Jim has also done a great job before you, and endured much flaming in the process .
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post #8 of 1429 Old 05-21-2005, 07:48 AM
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Quote:


Originally posted by esmith
The biggest problem with the PHAST dimmers was that the PHASTLink network referenced ground, and that could cause a single dimmer to lock up the entire network. That is not an issue with the C4 lighting products as they communicate on wireless notwork. They were also susceptible to static and lightning.

There was also the issue that if you burped in their vicinity they would blow up. Sorry, I couldn't resist ! Last such comment, I promise.
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post #9 of 1429 Old 05-21-2005, 07:52 AM
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Also, even though you said you will come here often, I'm sure that you (and Jim) are very busy people. It would probably benefit all of us if you could have someone in your tech support dept. answer some of our questions directly on the forum, rather than having to go through the dealer . Ultimately it should save all of us a lot of time, money and aggravation .
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post #10 of 1429 Old 05-21-2005, 07:58 AM
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You're incorrigible QQQ.
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post #11 of 1429 Old 05-21-2005, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Welcome Eric.

Congratulations on shipping C4 gear. Thanks for stopping by.

As we're working with the product, how should we send to Control4 suggestions, enhancements, bug, etc. Should we go through our dealer or would you like to know about them directly?

I second AJF's suggestion to have tech support dept. periodically answer questions directly.

Cheers,
Max
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post #12 of 1429 Old 05-22-2005, 02:03 PM
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Hey Guys,
Are any of you using the 3 or 6 button keypads? Also, have they said when they might be shipping any of the Mini Touchscreens ?
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post #13 of 1429 Old 05-22-2005, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
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My order included a 6 btn keypad. Should be shipping shortly.
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post #14 of 1429 Old 05-23-2005, 05:11 AM
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I know a lot of us have been frustrated about the remote not displaying tracks. I talked with Brent Huskins over the weekend. He said the LCD keypads should be released at the end of the month, and they share the exact same interface as the handheld remote. He was fairly sure that C4 would have the LCD keypad working correctly before it shipped, and that would mean a software update would be available for the handheld remote. So that sounds like good news.
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post #15 of 1429 Old 05-23-2005, 12:31 PM
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Maybe you guys already figured this out, but I just learned how to check the disk space.

\\\\ then the ip address of your MC (which you can get quickly by hitting the setup button on the mc)

you can view the folders with your mp3s as well as the album art
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post #16 of 1429 Old 05-23-2005, 01:18 PM
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Here's a good question. It looks like if you insert a disc in the MC it rips at 192. If you rip at a higher rate or .wav on a pc and then import, does the MC convert the track to 192 bit rate? I want uncompressed or lossless on my MC and don't want to waste time ripping directly to the MC now and then have to change later.
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post #17 of 1429 Old 05-23-2005, 04:26 PM
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I'm not sure at what rate the MC is playing. But I've been ripping mine to FLAC as an archive and then making a LAME copy at the alt preset insane variable bit rate preset and loading those onto the MC and they sound great. You pose a good question, but I don't think it could play it at a different bitrate than it's recorded at, especially a variable bitrate like I did. But I could be wrong. I'm using dBpowerAMP to rip and convert my files. It's just as easy as WM10 and it supports just about every codec you could want. Thanks to TimmyB for the suggestion.
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post #18 of 1429 Old 05-23-2005, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Stash, here's what Eric says about this, from his post above:

Quote:


We will add the ability to configure the ripping bit rate soon, and we are also working finishing the work to support full bit rate .WAV files. FLAC will take a while while we work on a codec that will work with our hardware design.

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post #19 of 1429 Old 05-23-2005, 07:12 PM
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OK guys, I found out from Eric that you can't get tracks on the handheld remote yet. He said they just didn't think anyone would be interested in drilling down to that level on the remote. But they've heard our requests and he believes it will be a future feature.

Also, he said a new software update would allow mounting additional hard drives via USB or over the network.
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post #20 of 1429 Old 05-23-2005, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess a workaround right now is to create playlists. I belive this can be done via Composer or Navigator interface, but not LCD interface.

Thanks for finding out.
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post #21 of 1429 Old 05-24-2005, 07:41 AM
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Eric,

Will Control4 be integrating with the Netstreams digilinx system and if so when?

Has Petrovich
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post #22 of 1429 Old 05-24-2005, 08:16 AM
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A couple of answers.

We should have track access in the June version, and we should have the items sorted alphabetically by then too. This is just a software upgrade of Director running on the MC.

The 3 and 6 button keypads and the 3 way switches were just waiting for final UL approval which we got on Friday last week. They should ship almost immediately.

When we stream analog audio over the network we stream it at full 16 bit stereo 44.1KHz. When we play compressed audio we send it over the network compressed, and then convert it to 16 bit stereo 44.1 KHz.

I'm pretty sure we can even stream wav files now, but because they don't have tags, they won't identify correctly when scanned.

Eric
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post #23 of 1429 Old 05-24-2005, 08:23 PM
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Just wanted to publicly thank Eric for getting to the bottom of a few issues I have had with the system. It looks like all the requests for the remote have been implemented for the end of June update. For those interested in what those issues were, see my post on the remote in the other Control4 thread.

I am amazed at how quickly Eric was able to get this done. While they should have been done before the release, I applaud them for releasing the issue and correcting it quickly.

I look forward to having Eric's continued input here.

Joe
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post #24 of 1429 Old 05-25-2005, 07:04 AM
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Ditto .
Question:
When you have a component which C4 doesn't have the IR for in it's library, how is it taught to the system (using the original remote) ? Is it done at the MC or the C4 remote?
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post #25 of 1429 Old 05-25-2005, 07:28 AM
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It's done at the MC. There is an IR window on the front of the MC that can be used to learn codes. Also, speaking of IR codes, it is rumored that C4 is going to allow the MC to receive IR commands from other universal remotes. This will be handy for the Harmony/pronto/Home Theater Master crowd that wants to run macros.
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post #26 of 1429 Old 05-25-2005, 08:00 AM
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Thanks Stash . That great because the new Harmony 880 looks real nice and I'm going to buy one to replace my 659 when they become available on-line (I tried BB, no luck) .

I think it's been mentioned on the other thread, but I hope C4 is working on a nice hand-held, hard button and color lcd, theater remote . A step-up from their basic remote, similar to the 880 would be great .
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post #27 of 1429 Old 05-30-2005, 08:07 AM
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Do the controlers provide support for 2-way rs-232 controll for the 3805? also what are the video sense ports for? I assume you would plug your dvd, STB, and other video devices in via composite the control can sense that and perform some sort of predefined routine.

One last thing. I would like to have the ability to map my digital cable music stations to selection on the touchscreen so I could select music>cable>jazz and it would set the stb to station 830. I am sure this is simple, and this is how my next door neigbor has his crestron setup. Can control4 do this?

I am very excited about this product! My neighbor has a creston that controls 4 audio zones with music, his home theatre and a mp3 server. he spent about 40 Grand on the whole setup, not including tv's, and I want to build a better system for a fraction of the cost!
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post #28 of 1429 Old 05-30-2005, 09:22 AM
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this will be brief as I am between flights. the denon 3805 is 2 way, but only the power commands are captured inbound. this allows turning on or off the device to trigger programming. The video sensors do exactly the same thing. Route composite video through the MC and power will trigger an event. I have set this up in my house so that when the DVD turns on (like when I hit eject to put a rented DVD in), the projector and receiver automatically come on and select the DVD player.

With broadcast video channels, there is an option to check "Audio Only". this will cause the music channels to show up under "Radio" on all of the UI devices.
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post #29 of 1429 Old 05-31-2005, 05:58 AM
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Eric or Jim,

Can you tell us more about the "4" Real tour . I'd especially like to know when and where you'll be in N.Y.
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post #30 of 1429 Old 06-01-2005, 08:17 AM
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Hey AFJ,

We are taking the show on the road.

These will be 3-4 hour sessions shouwing you the hardware and software and allowing you the ability to have hands on time with the gear and Eric.

Be careful what you touch on Eric.

Here are the dates as I have them noted.

The complete list should be on our web site in the coming days.

6-Jun Boston MA
7-Jun Newark NJ
8-Jun Washington DC


20-Jun Charlotte NC
21-Jun Atlanta GA
22-Jun Jacksonville FL
23-Jun Tampa FL
24-Jun Miami FL


Jim
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