Most of this week’s iPad news centered around the much hyped (undeserved if you ask me) New iPad (I still can’t get over that it’s not called the iPad 3 or iPad HD…). The new iPad sports an improved screen and camera and a more powerful processor. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same as the old iPad 2.
From my perspective, the bigger news is that the iPad 2—loved by millions—is still available and now $100 cheaper.
The iPad has been a game changer for the home control market at all levels. Every (well, most) home control, remote control and home automation company offers some sort of app interface for their control system. Some of those companies jumped into the app world brimming with enthusiasm, while others were dragged kicking and screaming. The later mostly because the iPad could be purchased for considerably less than their own proprietary control touchpanels and often with little (depending on who you ask) compromise in functionality. In the past few years every one of Electronic House’s Home of the Year Integrated Home Award winners has included some level of iPad integration. Last year’s Gold Level Home of the Year was overwhelmingly an iPad house (powered-by a Savant control system).
Check out the iPad Home of the Year here.
So Apple’s latest news, that the iPad 2 will still be sold, but now for $399 (Wi-Fi version) is good news for people who want to use it for a home control interface. The new iPad brings nothing new to the home control solution (other than faster performance from the A5X processor). The cheaper iPad 2 will control a home theater, turn down your lights and let you browse your Kaleidescape movie collection just as well as the new model, but for $100 less. If you planned to add multiple iPads to your home system, this could be a nice savings—enough to pay for some more wireless light switches or more in-wall speakers.
The biggest advantage the new iPad has for home control is in the 4G LTE connection (only if you buy an AT&T or Verizon version). That faster connection would make remote monitoring more reliable, especially for checking on your surveillance cameras. If the iPads are strictly for home use, then the iPad 2 is the smarter option.
For companies that sell expensive remotes and dedicated touchpanels, their competition just got $100 more difficult.
Of course, I’m not saying the iPad, any iPad, is the ideal device for controlling your home or A/V gear. There are many valid reasons you might not want to depend on an iPad, and you can read about them here and here.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.