RTI’s New ‘Pro Control’ Division: Lower-Cost Remote Controls for Broader Markets

image

The Pro Control PRO-24.z universal remote enables two-way ZigBee RF control at lower price points than other ZigBee remotes from RTI.

Pro Control products are about half the price of RTI's universal remote controls; feature new capabilities like swipe and five-way toggle.


Jan. 11, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The new Pro Control division of Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI) offers universal remote controls for homes “that maybe don’t warrant a $500 touchscreen controller,” says VP marketing Pete Baker.

That’s about the starting price of RTI’s other remotes, sold exclusively through professional installers.

Introduced at CES 2010, first products in the Pro Control lineup include two universal remote controls and two base stations. The entry-level remote is the PRO-24.i with IR control only. The step-up remote is the PRO-24.z, enabling two-way RF communications using the ZigBee protocol.

Both remotes have a 2.4-inch color touchscreen display, but the 24.i is a standard TFT, while the 24.z gives you a slick OLED. The OLED is nice not just for its superior image quality, but because it consumes far less battery power than traditional LCDs.

Both products also feature a new swipe function that lets you flip through the display as if it were an iPhone – up, down, left and right (a capability implemented on RTI’s new ST-7 controller).

New to the RTI family of remotes is a toggle button that the company calls a five-way programmable joystick (available only on the 24.z).

In theory, each station (up, down, left, right, enter) on the controller can be programmed to perform up to three different tasks (tap, double-tap, press-and-hold) depending on the activity.

For example, in a TV program guide, press-and-hold might be used as a page-down command. Motorized shades could be raised and lowered similarly.

However, RTI has not yet determined which features it would enable with the Pro Control remotes, according to Baker. It may be that some of the toggle functionality will be reserved for RTI-branded products.

Base Stations and Control Options

Both Pro Control remotes offer IR control, so they can operate A/V and other control systems on their own.

For better functionality and RF capabilities, however, Pro Control offers two base stations for the 24.z: the ProLink.4 and step-up ProLink.z with ZigBee.

[continues]

Both stations are IP-programmable, and feature IR routing ports with adjustable IR output strength. Both have 12v sensing inputs and both store macros in the unit itself for reliable transmission.

The ProLink.4 hub operates in the 433MHz band and provides only one-way control, presenting no feedback to the remote.

The step-up ProLink.z operates on the 2.4 GHz band and enables two-way communications via ZigBee. Two-way control is enabled via serial or IP communications, thanks to two RS-232 ports and one Ethernet jack on the hub.

The 24.z remote control has dual-RF radios, so it can work with either base station; therefore, integrators need to carry only one SKU for the remote, and they can easily upgrade their clients to a ProLink.z at a later time.

RTI is working on an iPhone interface for the units.

The Difference between RTI and Pro Control

While the Pro Control products technically have much of the same capability of RTI remotes, not all of the functionality will be “turned on,” so as to preserve RTI as the uber-custom brand.

The Pro Control remotes, like their RTI counterparts, are PC-programmable, but the Pro products incorporate a more wizard-based approach.

Despite the programming differences between the two brands, the Pro Control programming platform has a style that should be familiar to existing RTI dealers, Baker says.

And while you can customize some graphics for the Pro, you “won’t have the breadth of programming,” that you get with RTI, according to Baker.

Similarly, the Pro Control products will communicate two-way with some of the most popular subsystems like lighting controls and thermostats, “but you won’t have as many two-way device drivers as the RTI products,” says Baker.

In addition, while RTI offers a range of options for extending and optimizing the RF network, the Pro Control radios and antennas are built into the hubs and cannot take advantage of external RF devices.

Another key differentiator is that you won’t have nearly as many accessories with the Pro Control as you have with RTI. RTI has a complete ecosystem of solutions and Pro Control does not, so “RTI is much more scalable,” Baker says.

He thinks the new products will make the most sense for control systems in the $5,000 to $8,000 range.

Although Pro Control products are launching with some features that are not widely available on RTI products—the five-way jog, swipe-enabled interface and iPhone control, for example—Baker says it is “safe to assume” that the best new features of Pro Control will be brought to the RTI line.

Pro Control Distribution

Pro Control is a new division for RTI, well known among CE pros for higher-end remotes. RTI formed the division to open its technology to broader markets without undermining the RTI brand.

“It allows us to go into other markets were maybe RTI products didn’t fit,” Baker says.

RTI has been rather restrictive in its distribution, selling its products only through AVAD until recently, when it opened up Volutone and other specialty A/V distributors.

Pro Control products will go broader than that, although Baker declines to comment on potential new distribution partners.

He does say, “We don’t have any plans right now to sell directly to consumers.”

The Pro Control products are expected to ship in Q3 of this year, with the expected retail prices:

Republished from Electronic House’s sister publication, CE Pro.



Return to full story:
http://www.electronichouse.com/article/rtis_new_pro_control_division_lower-cost_remote_controls_for_broader_market/Pro_Control