Q. What Apple-Based Control System Do You­ Recommend?
Pros pitch several systems to a homeowner looking for simple and inexpensive home control.
May 05, 2009 by CE Pro

Q. I am an architect currently designing my own home. We are Mac/iPod/iPhone users and would love to have a simple to use and not too expensive integrated home control system. What would you recommend? - RMR

A. Here are a couple of suggestions, courtesy the pros at CE Pro.

Reliable Communication Systems Intl.

There is only one Apple based control system that I am aware of - Savant. The cost of this system may not be what you are looking for. If you are only looking for a system that has the ability to be controlled by an iPhone or iTouch then you have some more options. The best place to start would be to determine what you want to have in your new home and how much control you want. Do you want multi room audio and video, lighting control, HVAC control etc? Once you determine what items you may want then you can consult a dealer to discuss your needs.

Many companies have come out with an app for the iPhone or iTouch. These systems are not based on an Apple platform but allow you to use your iPhone to control their system. Also, many companies have iPod docks that integrate into their system. This provides control of all your iPod audio along with song, artist, album and playlist information.

If you are looking for a music/video server or even a standalone multiroom audio solution then take a look at Request. They have an iPhone app as well. Also, Netsync for iTunes allows your server to sync with your computer. Any time there is a new album added, it would sync both systems.

Isaac Imig of Gorge Audio/Video

The answer to the question all depends on how far you want to take things. If it’s all encompassing, meaning automation of lighting, shades, other electrical loads, irrigation, AND audio/video, it’s hard to beat Crestron/AMX hardware coupled with the iPhone interface. If it’s just lighting/shades etc, Lutron Homeworks has a great app. HAI also fits in here, with a slight advantage when it comes to incorporating A/V. If it’s just audio/video, use 4 Apple Airport Express with your choice multi-source multi-zone audio component in conjunction with the Apple “remote” application. This is a really slick solution on the cheap.

Safe-T Security & Audio Video

You may want to look into Control4. Although they do not use the Apple/Mac platform, they are “Apple-Centric.” We have a functioning Control4 set-up in our showroom running a typical surround sound system, iPod dock, and have also included an in-wall touch screen, thermostat, and lighting control system. We recently hooked-up an iPhone with the downloaded Control4 application, and we can control the whole system from the iPhone (or iTouch). In addition to this Control4 also has a web app, to control the system from a computer, although I don’t think this makes a difference if it’s a Mac or PC.

The beauty of the Control4 system is that it can expand. If you start with their basic processor and remote, you will not only be able to control your A/V system, but the processor is Wi-Fi ready, and has the ability to ‘talk’ to its Zigbee accessories such as wireless lighting switches & keypads, and thermostats. The processor will also aggregate music files stored on your home network.

In a nutshell, the Control4 systems are geared to the broader market, more affordable and easily expandable. Their built-in wireless systems allow for easy retrofits, require less programming time, and are easy to use and operate. I didn’t mean to sound like a salesman, but I’ve sold other systems (control & automation, lighting control, whole house audio, etc.) and just like Apple, Control4 seems to have a knack for knowing what is best for the end user.

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