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Is Control4 going to be perfect for a retrofit, or am I dreaming? - Page 3  

post #61 of 298
Jacksonian,

I did miss the smiley at the end of your statement and I apologize. My comments about a lack of understanding and respect for the custom AV profession weren't directed specifically at you. I have sensed that in many posts. And granted, there are people in this profession who will rip you off, as there are in all professions.

Again my apologies, I do understand that you serve a very important purpose in your work and that it is costly and worth it. I was just using a ridiculous statement to make my point. All of us in the custom A/V business have heard those words directed at us multiple times.

If C4 works as advertised and lives up to even some of the hype, I believe it will open up a very underserved market. But, by seeing Brents above post, it isn't going to open up automation to the masses. $25k is still out of the ballpark for most consumers. Especially the lighting portion. I have about 50 light switches in my house, then maybe 15 more loads to control on top of that, a pool and spa etc. $6500 just for the dimmers is much less than Vantage or Lutron dimmers, but it is still pricey. Add labor and programming, and you are talking close to 10k. This is pretty inexpensive for a lighting control system, but not in the mass market. So a full system including the stuff from Brent above with lighting is upwards of 30-35K. April 30 is only a few weeks away, hopefully, all those shipping dates will be correct and we can move from debating whether it might work to whether it does actually work.

Good luck on your quest for your own home.
post #62 of 298
Doctor:

I know of no automation professional who does not work in excess of 80 hours and if you include hacking, programming and tweaking it may move into as much as 120 hours/week. While we do not pay as much in insurance and we may have fewer loans to pay off we also have many fixed costs that are extremely high. But it is of complete indifference to me how much money you earn. You have a right to spend as much as or as little on a your fantasy system as you deem appropriate. If I could develop one set of software and resell it I could bring the programming part of my line down considerably. But rare is the individual, even the value oriented customer, who does not wish the system to fit his preconceived notions of functionality. Additionally, manufacturers conspire to make my dream of a repeatable system almost impossible as they change protocols with every new product. Most Crestron and AMX dealers already depend on the control system manufacturer for drivers for many of the systems they control. But for those that wish to take the time or are forced by necessity can and do modify stock code or write their own drivers. The idea that Control4 will provide drivers is therefore not new but there is still some lag time with their providing their dealers the software to provide modifications to their products. This will change but such is the current state of affairs.

Phast's products did not work as advertised out of the box and their lighting system never worked. In the end Phast's audio/video system did work. In the case of Control4 they have turned up the hype but been very slow to release product. What the portends is anyone's guess when it comes to mass produced items. My sense is that it is a good thing but that does not mean that problems with software or hardware will not be encountered. This may be a moot point for you, Doctor, as you may have perfect RF conditions in North Carolina but in NY, and Chicago where there is metal lathe in the walls, concrete walls and lots of microwave flying around the Either it may have consequences. But the fact is no one knows anything because no products have been released and few real installations exist. What I find most fascinating as I read through these Control4 threads is how many psychologically conservative individuals are willing to be first in line for a new, innovative and untested product and yet these are not individuals in love with technology. I am in love with technology as I suspect are most of the pros on this board. Yet it is those of us who do crave the latest and best technology, who want every electronic gadget on the market who are preaching caution while the value oriented consumer has caught the fever.



Brent has shared some crucial information. At the CEDIA trade show when Control4 made its big splash it suggested that the price for a system that you envisioned, Doctor, would cost about 4-6k. That included installation, programming and equipment. It is to that price model that I was referring when I suggested that Control4's pricing would put great pressures on the firms installing it. But Brent now is informing all that the price structure Control4 originally announced has been adjusted.

ToddD has very succinctly made the argument why a system like Control4 will come to market. There is a vast, untapped market that has resisted automation of any sort. Largely this is due to price and these objections do not inherently correspond with earnings. It has to do with perceived value. I suspect many of those clamoring for Control4 could rather easily purchase an AMX or Crestron system but they believe those systems to be over priced or not to provide sufficient value.

What is fascinating is that my sense of the market is that it does wish for some simpler method of interfacing the myriad products and systems that exist. My hope was that standardization would be enforced by a gorilla like Microsoft but this has yet to occur. Products that once had discrete IR codes do not and the most common products found in most everyone's home, cable or satellite boxes are neigh impossible to control. No one wants to place a bug on a LCD or plasma but rear connectivity is becoming less common on consumer gear or when there is a serial protocol, as in the case of the Sharp LCD panels they require a real control system and programming to accomplish basic functions such as volume up or down. Although with 61 page flips you may very well accomplish the same thing with your Harmony remote, Doctor.

I, too, reread my posts, and I do not see anything personal directed at you, Doctor. If you think my 60/speaker comment a slap it was not meant to be. It was meant to take seriously your stated wish to spend as few dollars on the system as possible. It also would mate well with a steaming audio source. They sources sound fine on computer speakers less acceptable on full fidelity transducers. One of the problems with high resolution products is that they reproduce all of the warts in a source. The 8 channels of high definition TV may look spectacular on your HD plasma but if the bulk of the channels you actually watch do not look equally good then you will not watch what is on that display. Perhaps for some in this business it is about selling expensive products. For some of us it is about installing the right system for each client.

Alan
post #63 of 298
Thread Starter 
fletch999, don't sweat it, I understand, no apology needed.

Alan, I've sent you a PM to keep this on topic.
post #64 of 298
It's nice to see that in the end we are all on the same page after all!

To the "pro's" out there I'd like to add I hope none of you misunderstand the point that we non-pro's are trying to make-it's not that we do not see you as having value, and it's not that we are not willing to pay for that value that you add- it's that some of you do not understand the points that I made in my first post in this thread ( Thanks Alan for your kind words about that post). We that truly love the idea of automation want it to be available to all- even the 95% who have no idea that they want it! For that to happen something has to change and I think Control4 might be the beginning of that change.

Thanks to Brent for all of his information and bring facts to this discussion- they help to show the point

Now let just hope that Control4 is as for real as we hope - time shortly will tell!
post #65 of 298
The prices haven't changes since CEDIA except for a couple items and only a minor bit. If they quoted whole house systems for $4,000 to $6,000, that's news to me. I guess that's one more reason why Alan and others somewhat feel like they have over promised and will under deliver. Makes sense to me anyway (correct me if I'm wrong...I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth.) If one is willing to go with the LCD keypads or even the 3 or 6 button keypads the cost goes down substantially on a big system. I showed a robust system with the big touchpanel. Their real bargain is the home theater controller for $600. It's a system controller...just hook up the IR and RS232 to your devices...configure it and your good to go. It provides the GUI control with a remote and controls DVDs from a Sony 777ES DVD changer with cover art, etc. Quite the bargain. If it works as well as the Escient DVDM-100 ($2,000 retail) they'll have a huge demand for that product. This gets them in the door with customers as well.

Brent Huskins
Media Design
post #66 of 298
Brent,

They keep pushing the release date, what are they having problems with (manufacturing, programming, just one of the systems such as lighting etc. ) ? What do you think needs the most work ? What don't you like about their system ?

You said : "I'm here to tell you that this is going to be very hot over the next couple of years." Do you mean you think it will take that long till it actually works as advertised ?
post #67 of 298
Prices quoted come right out of their dog and pony show at CEDIA where they spoke less about the sheet price of specific items then about the cost of a typical system installed. They wee pushing their wireless remote and I do not recall how large the distributed audio system was but I do recollect that their 2500 system contained their wired a/v distribution a few thermostats and some number of light switches. I do not think price included speakers but even 5k for a 8 zone audio system, one touch panel, 10 light switches and 2 thermostats installed and programmed with typical source seems fantastic. Based on the pricing you are now, reporting Brent, those prices are now far more realistic.

Even their 100 dollar wireless lighting devices are below the costs of any other wireless lighting system on the market. The Thermostats were priced below any other controllable stat of which I am aware. The prices on touch panels are revolutionary as they bring to an end user a level of quality 25% below my current cost.

Let's be reasonable. Does anyone think I would not prefer a solution that permitted me to provide a control system, albeit just for distributed audio, without having to open up someone's walls? But I am making an other service call today to a client whose switch has lost connection to the network and whose ReplayTV cannot download its guide. I have a job in Boston where a TPMC10 web tablet in installed in a town house and we have zero problems communicating with Crestron's proprietary RF system but we have had all sorts of issues using the web tablet via wi-fi and that is just a touch panel. No audio streaming down the pipe. As the 2.4 gig spectrum becomes more crowded with more devices, including toys, I wonder how these audio points will respond. I am fully aware of channel hopping but there are only 11 channels on which you can cycle. These are not commercial wireless products--or that is my supposition. I too would like to walk on to a job Monday and leave Wednesday or Friday with a completely installed system. Waiting for the construction to catch up with me is hardly in my interests either. But working reliable products that I have control over are also in my interests from reputable manufacturers who support their dealers are also in my list of relevant facts.

I suspect the wired parts of this system will work out of the box. They got that far with Phast. How long it takes for the wireless is anyone's guess and I suspect the problem now has more to do with firmware and software utilities that product. We shall see.

Alan
post #68 of 298
I think the comparisons to Harmony are spot on. It wan't to long ago that in order to control a basic home theater system from a single point you could use a flaky all in one remote or pay big bucks for a Crestron/AMX type system. There was a market opportunity for someone to create a remote that could do basics of the high-end system for a price slightly higher than the basic universal remote solution. Enter the Pronto. Many had tried to create a product that offered as much functionality as the pronto at its price point. The pronto was/is limited by the fact that some of the macro features have to be programmed, which is too much time/effort for many consumers. Enter Harmony. Nice hard button remote, macros programmed for you, just plug it into your computer, tell it what components you have, how you want to control them and bamo, hit product at less than $200. They seem to have the codes for just about any product out there, and if they don't they create them for you. Does it do what a full blown custom solution can, nope, but it probably does 95% of what most people will want or expect (at its price point).

I don't see C4's strategy so far off from this. I think they are trying to fill that middle ground between full blown big $ automation and a couple of univerasal remotes and some X-10 dimmers. Product cost should be less and labor should be less. I hope they succeed in bringing us 75% of the features of a Crestron system at 1/4 the price.
post #69 of 298
Thread Starter 
Brent, if my home theater system operates well with the Harmony, there's not much need for the Home Theater Controller is there? Especially if I'd need the Media Controller anyway, right? Seems like you'd either do the HT controller + Sony or the Media controller + Sony? Actually I think I'd rather rip all my discs to a hard drive without compressing them, so I could just use the Media controller maybe.

Alan, what IF the wired system works as advertised. Would the price point and features be a decent value then? I'm wondering from your post if spending extra money on trying to make just about everything wired would be worth it in the long run.
post #70 of 298
Alan,

There's another wireless lighting switch which has been on the market for about a year now called Z-wave and they only cost $30-40 per switch. They had some problems at first but now seem to be working well . It's still very basic but should be getting more sophisticated as they add components (mult-button keypads, controllers, etc. ) It can be controlled now on it's own or using Homeseer . It's definitely a better alternative to X10 anyways .
They will also soon be marketed by some larger companies such as Intermatic and Leviton which should give them more credibility .
post #71 of 298
Quote:
Even their 100 dollar wireless lighting devices are below the costs of any other wireless lighting system on the market. The Thermostats were priced below any other controllable stat of which I am aware. The prices on touch panels are revolutionary as they bring to an end user a level of quality 25% below my current cost.
Z-Wave switches and modules run about $50'ish each. No one is making a Z-Wave thermostat yet that I know of, but that's coming. The protocol can handle a wide variety of devices.
post #72 of 298
Are you using them Dean ?
post #73 of 298
Quote:
Originally posted by jacksonian
Actually, since I'm a physician and I can't make that kind of money, yes, it seems a bit outrageous. I'm sure there's lots of training and certification involved, but I doubt it's as much as I have.
I'm sure you've received a lot of training but evidently not in economics or you would know that training is not always directly proportional to ones income, especially in a capitalistic society. Last I recall Bill Gates never finished college so I guess you must especially take offense at his wages.

But seriously, people charge what the market will bear. It is not related to their "value" to society or teachers might make more than doctors...and probably should. And I rarely find anyone else's salary "outrageous" (smiley or no smiley :)), I figure if someone can earn it more power to them. That includes doctors AND horror or horror, attorneys :).
Quote:
... No, I can't make $125/hr. The average salary for pediatricians, family docs, and psychiatrists is about $130k per year, which is about $65/hr if we were working 40 hour work weeks, which is about 1/2 to 2/3 of the hours most really work.
I was kidding a little above but you really did miss economics class, didn't you? What in the world does a custom installation outfit charging $75 or $125 per hour have to do with earning more than $130K per year. Surely you realize (I guess you don't) that the $75 per hour relects the following facts:

1. $75 per hour rarely has ANYTHING to do with what the tech that is at your house actually makes. He may only make 40K. Or whatever.

2. That tech may only bill out 25 hours a week (it varies of course) even though he works 40. 15 hours a week may involve travel time, warranty service calls, work at the office etc.

3. That $75 per hour helps to cover insurance, cost of vehicles for the tech etc. etc. etc. It covers the costs of doing business and has little reflection on what anyone is actually "making".

However, if your salary is 130K a year you really are NETTING $65 per hour and that also means your GROSS hourly rate is MUCH higher.
Quote:
Also, the average school loan debt for doctors is over $150k when they leave school and residency at the age of 30+.

My heart bleeds for you.
Quote:
As for this comment: "$500 bucks to poke a needle in my arm and write a prescription? I'm in the wrong business." Perhaps taking the responsibility of two to three thousand lives at any one time into one's hands is worth a little more than we think?
My systems bring joy and happiness to peoples lives and make them happy every day. When was the last time poking some kid with a needle made them happy? Based on that I'm worth a lot more than you :D.

Just kidding, I really am. I'll be the first to admit that the profession of medicine has more "value" to society than the profession of custom installation. But I STILL make people happier. Even if you make someone happy by telling them the cancer hasn't come back you were also the one to tell them they had it in the first place so it's not like you're doing them a big favor :D
post #74 of 298
Thread Starter 
QQQ, I understand your points about the hours and billing. But no, the $130k is gross, not net, and not including being on call. As I told fletch, my original comment was mostly meant to poke fun at my naivety of the costs involved with a custom installation, not to give anyone a hard time. I agree that people should make what they can, EXCEPT for attorneys, I can't go there with you :).

And I know you're not bleeding for any docs, but I also bet you're not installing many of those Crestron systems in docs' houses either. We don't make enough. :D
post #75 of 298
I'm having Brent Huskins setup/install my HT. I considered going with a Control4 system, as I wanted automated lighting, drapes, etc in my media room.

In the end, I wasn't ready to go with a 1.0 product so I went with RadioRA for the lighting and drapes, and an HTPC for DVD and music delivery. (& a Harmony to control everything).

The Control4 solution was certainly affordable for someone with my budget, but I was going to use some of their Zigbee wireless parts and want to let others test them first. Maybe in my next house. :)
post #76 of 298
Quote:
Originally posted by jacksonian
QQQ, I understand your points about the hours and billing. But no, the $130k is gross, not net, and not including being on call. As I told fletch, my original comment was mostly meant to poke fun at my naivety of the costs involved with a custom installation, not to give anyone a hard time. I agree that people should make what they can, EXCEPT for attorneys, I can't go there with you :).
You referred to 130K as "salary". In the context that I was referring to, that 130K is "net", even if it is before taxes because the 75 per hour rate I quoted for CI work has Nothing to do with anyones salary. And your 130K salary it is certainly much higher than the average custom installer or programmer makes regardless of what their hourly rate is billed at. And let's not forget that doctors have plenty of "hardware" they make money on too such as blood tests etc. You know, what you refer to as "fat" when we custom installers make it :).

I don't want to take this further off topic but your characterization that you do not make as much as a custom installer is just outright silly. It ranks up there accuracy wise with "I did not have sexual relations with that woman - Miss Lewinsky".
post #77 of 298
Quote:
Are you using them Dean ?
Yeh. We added a driver in the last release, and I was ever so glad to toss the X-10 and move to Z-Wave. It's been working just fine for me. Hasn't glitched on me so far in a couple months now, and the control via CQC has been solid and drama free. The switch rockers have a little bit of lateral play in them, but they seem to work fine.
post #78 of 298
Thanks .
post #79 of 298
Thread Starter 
QQQ, let it drop, it was a joke. I've said it over and over that I was poking fun at myself. How many times do I have to say it?
post #80 of 298
As you can tell, decaf isn't big among the automation crowd :-)
post #81 of 298
Quote:
Originally posted by Dean Roddey
As you can tell, decaf isn't big among the automation crowd :-)
Dean! We had a deal about trade secrets!

Dave
post #82 of 298
Quote:
Originally posted by ToddD
...To the "pro's" out there I'd like to add I hope none of you misunderstand the point that we non-pro's are trying to make-it's not that we do not see you as having value, and it's not that we are not willing to pay for that value that you add...
Well, I might additionally add, that for some of us non-pro's it really has nothing to do with the financial aspects of it, for me it has everything to do with the *fun* of it. Were I to win the lottery tomorrow, I still wouldn't let someone come into my house and install anything.... I'd quit my job and spend 6 months installing something that a pro could do in a week. :) I do have a bit of an advantage, I'm a physicist and thus a hard core geek, so I actually *enjoy* staying up all night squashing bugs. ;)

The "enthusiast" crowd imho, is a growing one. As more young tech-savy people enter the market, I expect you'll see a growth in areas which didn't have any real chance a few years ago. Home automation is an area which is starting to move into the realm where a smart guy with a good tech background can figure it out and do it him (or herself) without having to attend training classes. I see products like the C4 as a sign of this trend.

What's more, I'll be on the lookout for the devices that the "enthusiasts" adopt. That is where the fun is! Look at the custom firmware that has improved Linksys routers, or look at the greatest media player ever -- the hacked xbox and you'll know what I mean.

Ten years ago, could you have imagined that you could go to WalMart and buy a router -- and that the average joe would actually have a chance of installing it and having it actually work?? Times they are a'changin'.
post #83 of 298
Ten years ago - you would have said router and everyone would assume the wood working device. Now the average person probably thinks of the electronic device before the working working tool.

I really just wanted to say "amen". If I had an unlimited pot of money I still would install and configure most everything in my house. Especially electronic devices...I would just be able to afford more and better of them. I would still want open devices that encourage hacking and DIY...heck I would be able to help fund some of them. But no matter the ammount of money I had I wouldn't want someone to come in design, install, and configure the whole system. BTW...I'm a computer programmer.
post #84 of 298
Quote:
Originally posted by ChuckSchick
Well, I might additionally add, that for some of us non-pro's it really has nothing to do with the financial aspects of it, for me it has everything to do with the *fun* of it. Were I to win the lottery tomorrow, I still wouldn't let someone come into my house and install anything.... I'd quit my job and spend 6 months installing something that a pro could do in a week. :) I do have a bit of an advantage, I'm a physicist and thus a hard core geek, so I actually *enjoy* staying up all night squashing bugs. ;)

The "enthusiast" crowd imho, is a growing one. As more young tech-savy people enter the market, I expect you'll see a growth in areas which didn't have any real chance a few years ago. Home automation is an area which is starting to move into the realm where a smart guy with a good tech background can figure it out and do it him (or herself) without having to attend training classes. I see products like the C4 as a sign of this trend.

What's more, I'll be on the lookout for the devices that the "enthusiasts" adopt. That is where the fun is! Look at the custom firmware that has improved Linksys routers, or look at the greatest media player ever -- the hacked xbox and you'll know what I mean.

Ten years ago, could you have imagined that you could go to WalMart and buy a router -- and that the average joe would actually have a chance of installing it and having it actually work?? Times they are a'changin'.

Great point! I am right there with you!
post #85 of 298
Quote:
Originally posted by AJF
Brent,

They keep pushing the release date, what are they having problems with (manufacturing, programming, just one of the systems such as lighting etc. ) ? What do you think needs the most work ? What don't you like about their system ?

You said : "I'm here to tell you that this is going to be very hot over the next couple of years." Do you mean you think it will take that long till it actually works as advertised ?
The good news is that they haven't pushed their official dates back since February. That makes the April dates look good. They would have already pushed them back again otherwise. I think the real delays have occurred to ensure the product that's released in a couple weeks is a solid release. I like the overall approach the most. Very retrofitable. Price points are great. Feature set is robust. There really isn't a lot left out either. It's definitely the most robust "out of the box" package ever developed for residential automation. There's room for improvement (just like AMX and Crestron) but that allows a dealer to program special needs solutions for their clients.

I don't think it will take 2 years to actually work, rather I think it will take 2 years for other companies to play catch up.

Brent Huskins
Media Design
post #86 of 298
Quote:
Originally posted by jacksonian
Brent, if my home theater system operates well with the Harmony, there's not much need for the Home Theater Controller is there? Especially if I'd need the Media Controller anyway, right? Seems like you'd either do the HT controller + Sony or the Media controller + Sony? Actually I think I'd rather rip all my discs to a hard drive without compressing them, so I could just use the Media controller maybe.
Your assumptions are correct...one or the other is all you'll need.

Brent Huskins
Media Design
post #87 of 298
Another computer programmer here that feels the same way. I can afford an installed high end system, but I won't go that route. I would rather run the cables myself, install the hardware myself, config the system myself, and if need be program extensions myself.

I think that people capable and willing to hack and tweak around with home automation is going to be a fast growing group. I am unsure if I will be using Control4 for my new home being constructed, but am definately looking in it's direction. It has an attractive price point, and uses standard network protocols and interface technology that myself and alot of people like me are comfortable with.
post #88 of 298
You sound more like one of our customers, if you really want to DIY it and are comfortable with computer standards-based automation.
post #89 of 298
WEEEE!
(just read this whole thing)

Funny how discussions of salaries and labor costs always end up.....

Ok, back to my hole.
post #90 of 298
Quote:
Originally posted by TimmyB
It has an attractive price point, and uses standard network protocols and interface technology that myself and alot of people like me are comfortable with.
It is no more open OR closed than Crestron or AMX so apart from price I'm not sure why it should make anyone "comfortable". It is a proprietary system that uses Ethernet.
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