Control4 2.0 Firmware Review

Discussion in 'Audio Visual' started by FAT245, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Well,

    Control4 2.0 was Offically Released today in Australia.
    After spending a few hours after work, upgrading to it.

    So First Up.

    What is Control4
    Control4 is an IP Based Home automation Solution, With a complete line of products that makes sophisticated control over Lighting / Home Theater / Multi zone Audio (Whole House Audio), Safety and Security Systems. All these Systems can be Controlled by a Single Platform. With all this Control at your fingertips, you will wonder why you didn't know about this sooner.

    What is 2.0?
    It is a Vast improvement on the older 1.7/1.8 Firmware,

    • Electronic licensing – all Control4 software licenses
    • New media DB, media scanning functionality
    • AAC codec support
    • WPA Support
    • Secure Connections Only (SSL)
    • Modest ZigBee Pro performance improvement
    • Adobe Flash base Interface

    The Media Databases is also Smaller, my Music & Video Database was 15 MB, but now after the upgrade and conversion, it is now 5MB,
    Sorting and Adding/Removing Content is alot faster than usual.

    Now with being able to schedule media scanning and import, you hardly need to use your Composer Pro Software todo anything other than lighting schedules and adding/removing devices or reconfiguring rooms.

    1.8, even through there wasn't a big push for it, upgraded the Systems to Zigbee Pro and introduced FLAC Support, which is a big selling feature ti sine with Whole House Audio systems.

    Zigbee Pro brought in secure communications with remotes and minimised the Dropouts of Zigbee based devices e.g. Inwall Dimmers, In Ceiling Dimmers, remotes & Wireless Contact's and Relays.

    2.0 has now added to the mix Roaming Zigbee (although not 100% Implemented At the moment) and AAC Support. AAC was another feature requested due to the growing Nature of the iPhone/iTunes users.

    This has Forced legacy users to update to Newer Components, which also helps make sure of no incompatibility and Stability issues.

    [​IMG]

    The System has slowed down fractionally due to the Flash interface and more background services, but this can be overcome by disabling features which are not needed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  2. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Part II - Lighting & Audio

    Well what can I say?
    The biggest selling feature of the Control4 systems has been the ease of Audio distribution,
    Control4 can digitise audio which is fed into any analogue inputs on a Control4 Controller.
    this also helps listen to your iTunes Library and NAS Stored music throughout the house.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While Control4 Supports Rhapsody, I am unable to show you this function until my Account gets Re-Activated.

    Formats Supported:
    - Flac
    - AAC
    - MP2
    - MP4
    - MP3

    More will be added in at a later time, why spend all the cash on the gear when you cannot get maximum enjoyment out of it?

    Whole House audio will be covered in a Later Part.

    While the On-Screen menu is cool and easy to use,
    there are those times when your relaxing on the couch, the touchscreen/iPhone/iPad is on the table and you only have the remote in hand, never fear.
    You have full control of your house audio, queues and playlists all from your remote.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now onto Lighting....

    While Control4 have their own lighting products, it also interfaces Directly with some of the Leading light Control systems.

    Dynalite, CBUS, Lutron, HPM iControl (for those retrofits)

    Control4 is due to release their own Smart Lighting system, which is Din Rail mounted.
    Direct Interfacing with Control4, and real time feedback.
    IP and RS232 Control is avaliable for Dynalite & CBUS, there is also soon to be a Interface for a Popular italian Lighting system called BPT, which I will have a hand in developing.

    [​IMG]

    The Lighting screen is where some of the Magic happens, with the ease of making your own lighting scene's, or triggering them.

    Lighting Control and Interfacing with an Alarm panel is probably the coolest feature other than Video Distribution.

    I have done a few houses with Random lighting scene's which trigger when the house in in away mode and A Perimeter sensor has been tripped, it can detect if it is a Pet or a Human.

     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2010
  3. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Part III - TV/Video & Movie Selection

    Now, Onto possibly the Coolest feature of the system.
    Video Distribution.

    If you are like me, and have Terabytes of Media,
    there is no use it sitting on your PC and you having to watch it on your desktop/laptop.

    After Developing the Original IP Interface for Control4 to Windows Vista/7 (which my Old Employer is now selling).
    using a Media center has never been easier,
    No need for messy IR Remote's or multiple remotes.

    Direct Video launching and also integrated Media Libraries.

    It is Literally Point and Click with Control4.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Control4 Media Library automatically retrieves all cover art for Music and Videos instantly and Now features automatic media scanning (Which is a Godsend for Installers and Users).

    Supported Formats:
    - MKV
    - XviD
    - DivX
    - MP4
    - MPG2
    - DVD/VOB
    - DVD/ISO

    there is a wide Variety of Media Players, Windows Media Center/XBMC/Netgear EVA8000/9000 Media Players and Control4's own Video Player.
    All are IP Controlled and Streamed Via a NAS or Windows/Linux share.

     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  4. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Part IV - Whole House Audio

    Final Sector of the Control4 2.0 Review.
    Whole House Audio, or as Some people call it, Multi Zone Audio.

    The concept is basic - Share the Audio from any number of sources throughout the whole house with minimal effort and ease.

    Control4 (as well as other systems) can do this easily.
    Sonos is a Major contender but does not integrate as easily with other systems and can be a problem in itself.

    The Control4 Line up is Simple,

    Every Controller has an Analogue audio input and at least a Single analogue output.
    The Input allows sources to be digitized and distributed throughout the location with ease.
    Common inputs can be iPOD's / PC's and even a Zone 2/3 Analogue output from a Home theater receiver.

    in saying that, it can only be used for Music as there is a 3 second Buffer which will throw Lipsync way out if used for video.

    Ontop of the Controllers, there are many Alternatives,

    First up:

    [​IMG]
    The Control4 4-Zone Amplifier provides 60W of high-quality sound to each of four audio zones from up to four distinct sources. Ideal for smaller audio systems in new homes or existing homes already wired for speakers.


    [​IMG]
    The Control4 8-Zone Amplifier provides 120W of high-quality sound to each of eight audio zones from up to eight distinct sources. Ideal for larger audio systems in new homes or existing homes already wired for speakers


    [​IMG]
    The Control4 Audio Matrix Switch enables up to 16 audio sources to simultaneously play to 16 audio outputs. Ideal for use with Control4 Amplifiers when more than eight audio sources and/or audio zones are required.


    [​IMG]
    Using the Control4 Dock for iPod allows you to access all the videos and music, including all playlists and cover art, from your iPod in any room. Ideal for those wanting to enjoy and share their iPod library with the control and flexibility of a multi-room music solution.


    Now,
    Onto Controlling the System and the Audio in the whole house is simple,
    The Remote can be used, or one of the varied interface options.

    The Biggest Seller so far has been the 7" In-Wall, Table Top or WiFi Access Points.
    [​IMG]


    All Control4 Devices are IP Controlled which not only allows for Fast Switching, but also for Fast Realtime communication to show current Audio levels.
    Ontop of this, I have been able to work on High Level interfaces with Serial & IP Based Communication for Pioneer, Denon and Integra Amplifiers, there are some Yamaha Interfaces,
    but some of the ones on the market do not function correctly, even through they are Certified.
    This is a Major Problem for Integrators as You except them to work but they all have their own Bugs, these have been written by Control4.

    Now On this subject, while the Interfaces are Semi Functional at best, their Main focus is for Stability of their Product and Interfaces.
    Hardware has a Fail rate of Roughly 0.1% and these are Mainly the Zigbee Boards in the front of the unit which are not Manufactured by Control4.

    After the Amount of Jobs i have done with Control4 and other systems, I have a crewed over 70,000 Interfaces, some Written by myself, some modified from other units to work with the Products needed.

    You might be wondering where I am heading with this, Well here is the point.
    When you Spend money on these products, its a wise idea not to skimp out on the programmer, while all Dealers must have a Programmer onboard, you will be surprised at how many Systems Fail due to bad or inefficient programming and interfaces.

    Below are some Shots of the Control4 interface on the Zone Screen which shows what is playing, the current level and also the Controls for the house.
    You have Individual Audio and Mute controls as well as the ability to mute the whole house, Turn it up or turn it down. You can also set Maximum volume levels in the system to protect your investment.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]




    About the Reviewer:

    I have worked for the Major Distributor of Control4 in Australia (Convergent Technologies) as well as the Largest Control4 Dealer in Australia (Audio Connection),
    I am now on my own Doing Freelance Programming for CBUS/Dynalite/Control4/Crestron and soon AMX, I have my Control4 Certifications Tech I, II & III which not everyone has as well as Advanced Programming with Dynalite and CBUS.

    So Please, if you are looking at a System but would like someone reliable to Program it. PM Me or email me on control4@i-onsystems.com .

    Nathan - FAT245
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  5. Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    fat245, I want to do an installation where I use Control4 to control my hifi and A/V components, as well as control some lighting in the house. I have had a good look at the Control4 website to get an idea of the hardware needed, but the website is a bit scarce on details. This is what I need:

    - A controller that is able to learn and pass IR signals to multiple pieces of equipment. At the moment, the count is 6 (TV, receiver, DVD player, STB for the A/V, and also preamp and CDP for the hifi).

    - The lamps are plugged in to the wall. I have no need to control the overhead lighting, but that would be nice. The Control4 website has some controllers that can control lamps, but look to have US power sockets. Is an Aussie version available?

    - Does the control panel have a macro function? At the moment, I have a universal remote control (Marantz RC-9500). At the push of a single button, my remote turns on the TV, turns on the receiver, turns on the DVD player (or STB), selects the correct input on the receiver, and then changes the page to controls for the DVD player (or STB). Can Control4 do this?

    Thanks for your help :)
     
  6. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Part V - The Flash Based Web Interface

    [​IMG]
    Main Web Interface Screen

    [​IMG]
    Main Area Selection

    [​IMG]
    Loading Zone Screen

    [​IMG]
    Selected Zone Screen

    [​IMG]
    Watch Menu

    [​IMG]
    Video Selection Menu

    [​IMG]
    Video Meta Data Screen

    [​IMG]
    Listen Menu

    [​IMG]
    My Albums Menu

    [​IMG]
    My Album Details

    [​IMG]
    My Artists Menu

    [​IMG]
    My Artists - Album View

    [​IMG]
    My Music Queue

    [​IMG]
    Music Audio Zone Menu

    [​IMG]
    Music Zone - Add Menu

    [​IMG]
    Music Zone - With Second Zone Selected

    [​IMG]
    Music Zone - With Second Zone

    [​IMG]
    Lighting Control


    Amfibius,

    A Control4 HC300 will beable todo everything you ask.

    The startup Package Contains:

    HC300
    Control4 SR250 Remote
    6x IR Emitters

    Programming must be commissioned Onsite or before installation (I can do this if you provide me the models of all your equipment)

    RRP of the HC300 is $1899 but I can offer the solution cheaper to OCAU Members.

    I can also Remote Manage and Tweak your system if the programming is slightly skewed after Installation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  7. Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    fat245 I doubt if you will be able to find the R/C codes for the devices I own. Cary CD-306 SACD and Cary SLP-05 preamp, by any chance? Or the CDP I am thinking of upgrading to - a Playback Designs MPS-5? I don't mind programming the device on my own ... after all, I programmed my Marantz RC-9500 which was no small feat. The system needs to grow with me, and I need to be able to program it as I upgrade my equipment without having to call a tech every time.

    At the moment I am deciding on my next R/C solution and I am thinking of going the Philips route again.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    sorry to say,

    but to program the system you need to have a valid installer registration key,

    the software talks back to the US every time to confirm registration.

    Although i do have alot fo Cary Codes.

    CD306 is on the list, but not yoru pre-amp. they might share codes, ill do some digging.

    Playback Designs is just a matter of Emailing them for the codes, ive done it before for an older model
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  9. GreyWolfe01

    GreyWolfe01 Member

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    I'd have to say that is a bit of a killer. Why advertise a 'programmable' system that doesn't let you program? It's not rocket surgery.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    I Agree,

    the old software was download and run, but they are bringing out their own 4Store where users can purchase modules and install them onto their systems without needing the software.

    But like most automation systems, the warranty is only honoured if the system has been Programmed and installed by Certified Dealers/Programmers
     
  11. voltare1

    voltare1 Member

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    problem with these closed systems where everything runs from devices that only the company can alter is that when a device fails and needs replacing (say a dvd player or DTV box) then the only way to get the controller to operate it is to get someone to come out.

    What happens if the company goes?
     
  12. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Control4 2.0 Requires a Valid internet connection,
    The systems can be logged into by the Installers and/or Distributor.

    Programming can be done remotely for Popular brand Components.

    If a Company was to disappear, it is easy for the Distributor to move the system to another dealer. All they need is a Phone Call from the customer.
     
  13. AzzX

    AzzX Member

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    Nice review. Home automation is right on my to do list though being an enthusiast the inability to program everything yourself does seem a bit limiting.

    At the moment I have a Denon powered multizone setup with an xbmc configured HTPC. There is no way I would give up XBMC as the media player, so I assume it would take the audio output from any device such as a PS3/wii and other standalone players?

    Is it only for 2 channel audio?
     
  14. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Yes only Analogue audio,

    Control4 interfaces via IP with XMBC as well.
    although the 4 Zone has a Digital audio input.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  15. Simonk83

    Simonk83 Member

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    This is my problem with it. Aside from that it looks great, and as I'm due to be building my own house in the next year or so, home automation is something I'll be planning for carefully.

    Not being able to program it yourself is a bit of an oversight though. Does that go for most of these systems, or is it just a Control4 thing?

    I'm also one who'd prefer to keep my current solution for video playback (I use a Popcorn Hour C200), as the interface is just much prettier (one you get your jukebox setup obviously). I assume it's possible to just have the control4 control the Popcorn Hour, including using the PH interface rather than the C4 video menu system?
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  16. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    The Popcorn hour interface is still in BETA Stages.
     
  17. Simonk83

    Simonk83 Member

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    As in, the method to control the Popcorn Hour, or a user interface to mimic it?

    (Sorry, just starting to research Home Automation so I'm not 100% sure how it all works as yet) :D
     
  18. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Sorry the Control Interface
     
  19. Simonk83

    Simonk83 Member

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    No worries. Well the C200 actually accepts IR or RF (you need to plug in a little receiver for IR, but it works). I can't remember from reading earlier if the C4 stuff handles RF, so would it be safe to assuming they're working on an IR control interface?

    Or do I have the wrong end of the stick and we're talking wireless/cat5?
     
  20. OP
    OP
    FAT245

    FAT245 (Banned or Deleted)

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    They are working on an IP Control interface.

    So they can use it for Direct Video launch but an IR Interface can be easily made for just control of it.
     

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