By Chris Heinonen on
I stumbled into reviewing a Control4 system this year. I was just looking for a nice universal remote for my living room that is easy for my wife. Instead Control4 offered to send over and configure their HC-250 controller and SR-250 remote for me to use. Talking to them they insisted it would be easy to use for everyone and let me run a complex home theater system in my living room that is as easy to use as a basic TV. After looking into everything else Control4 could do, I said sure. Why not see if it really is as powerful as they say?
That basic universal remote has since grown to include a networked music system, a wireless music bridge, a week of training in Chicago, and soon full lighting control. Is the system easy to use? Well, every morning our 3-year-old is able to get up and decide if he wants to watch Netflix or a Blu-ray and start is up himself. Later on if he wants to listen to his favorite album, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories,he can do that as well. Once setup correctly it really is dead simple to use.
Beyond that the system is totally transparent. Since installing it I’ve used three different receivers with it. No one besides me can tell that anything has changed. The system looks and operates the same regardless of the equipment behind it. If someone can use Control4 in a home theater, they can use it in the living room and the bedroom because it always works the same.
You can read far more about this over at Secrets of Home Theater, including about the week long class I took to learn how to program the system myself. The brains behind the system are complex, but to an end user it is incredibly simple to use. I’ll be expanding it from my living room into my home theater and bedroom down the line because I enjoy the system that much.
Timothy Tom says
I have Control4 system in my home to control multiple TV’s, lighting, HVAC, whole house audio, fireplaces, pool equipment. I would say it works fine for standard control. If you want customization, or want new technology, forget it. You are TOTALLY dependent on dealer, who may not be responsive. Control4 themselves are USELESS to assist consumer.
Chris Heinonen says
Control4 isn’t supposed to provide end-user support. That’s why dealers go through training and certification for the system. I’ve gone through the class and had I not spend a week learning the system I’d have no idea what to do.
Other custom install solutions (Crestron, AMX, RTI, URC) are similar in that they don’t typically provide access to the software and a dealer is responsible for all the support. Some dealers are good, some are bad. For solutions you can manage yourself, there is iRule, or Roomie Remote. I have no experience with either of those, though.