Multitasking and hard buttons. When it comes to using the iPad as a home controller, those are the two big missing pieces.
Now Crestron is tackling the issue of hard buttons with the new iPanel, which snaps over the face of an iPad like a clam shell.
A total of 13 buttons grace the left and right sides of the iPanel:
- VOLUME UP/DOWN
- LEFT, RIGHT, UP, DOWN, SELECT
The buttons look like the ones on Crestron’s flagship TPS-6X wireless touchpanel, and they function similarly.
As for details about the iPanel, we don’t have many.
We know that power and communications occur through the the iPad’s multipin connector. The buttons tap into the iPad’s WiFi capabilities, communicating with a Crestron controller just like the TPS-6X or any other WiFi-enabled Crestron touchpanel.
But the screen does not have to be docked for the hard buttons to work. That’s because the case itself contains a multipin connector. When you dock the unit, you’re basically stacking connectors.
Now for the biggest questions about the iPanel.
Can you engrave the buttons? “We need to finalize, but we should be able to.”
Can the hard buttons be used for instant access to the Crestron app? “We’re still working through the Apple OS. More details soon.”
And the question we forgot to ask: How on earth did Crestron trademark the term iPanel?
We hear that Crestron is targeting a price point of less than $500, including the dock. We’ve also heard that the next generation of the dock will offer streaming media, although it’s unclear what that means.
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.