Controls & Cables: The Best Products of 2008

The central intelligence products of your entertainment and automation systems get their deserved recognition.

Electronic House Products of the Year 2008

Controls and cables — they often go underappreciated within the electronics spectrum.

Cables and wires are the nitty gritty that too often are an afterthought in your entertainment purchase and setup. Then you start scratching your head as to just how important these runs are as the central nervous system of your A/V.

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The old joke with controls was the basket of six remotes to control six different products. Now we have spiffy, versatile and extremely intelligent remotes. On top of that, we have automation systems that go two steps further with keypads and touchscreens that make your old VCR remote look like a popsicle stick.

If cabling is the nervous system, controls are the brains to operate things, and they can be slickly programmed to do just about anything these days. They also look sweeter than ever — whether it’s a proprietary facade or something borrowed from other popular interfaces. Case in point — we love the way Savant Systems has the home automation ball rolling with its Rosie System 12 that can be controlled by an iPhone, and SpeakerCraft’s MODE music system that can also be controlled with those shiny and colorful Apple phones.

Colorful touchpanels and thermostats we recognized from companies such as AMX, Control4, Elan Home Systems, Exceptional Innovation, HAI and Schneider Electric can jazz up any room while also providing the convenience to command several devices in your homes.

Cool controllers like RTI’s U2 Waterproof Controller and Universal Remote Control’s KP-900 Wireless Keypad also show that you can bring your control device with you anywhere in the home, and we mean anywhere — don’t worry about the pool splashes on that U2.

The devices you can control are also always growing, as we see, and nods to Lutron’s HomeWorks RF Fan Control and Kohler’s immersive DTV II Showering Experience were well deserved we thought.

While we did not spotlight too many products in the way of wiring and cables this year, we did go for extremes, picking Straight Wire’s $4 push prong RCA plug seemed like a no-brainer as we hear a lot from the DIY crowd these days, and on the other end, I’ve heard the MM2 technology from Transparent first-hand, and even though the company’s top-tier cables cost more than your average car, those who have high-end theaters will appreciate the technology for an audio experience like none other.

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See also:
- Products of the Year 2008
- Products of the Year 2007
- Products of the Year 2006

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