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CE Product News & Information

What ever happened to the HP Slate?

Ever wonder what happened to the HP Slate? It was buzzing around the blogs for a while then pfft.. nothing. I found out where HP put them! In their printers!

Ok.. maybe they aren’t re-purposed Slate’s.. but they are removable 7″ wi-fi android “Zeen” tablets. No access to apps according to websites i have read. Screen quality sucked. Looked like 16 bit graphics or seriously stretched images. I wonder if these are being counted in the iPad vs Android polls.

Control System WI-FI Touchpanel Evolution

The iPad is a revolutionary device that millions around the world own or want. It already has and will continue to change the way many “personally compute”. The iPad is also causing a stir in the Home Automation /System Integration world. WI-FI touchpanels from control system manufacturers like Crestron typically cost in the neighborhood of $3000-5000. The entry level iPad costs $500. There are many pros and cons to using the iPad as a control system touchpanel, here are a few.


Significantly less expensive
Better wi-fi range
Better display
Better battery
1/2 to 1/3 lighter
Access to the App Store


Suffers from limitations and/or requires 3rd party products & software
Connection lag or app loading time creates a few seconds of user frustration
Will be the target of theft in a commercial setting
No promise of consistency from Apple. It will be difficult to maintain the product.

I am sure there are other issues but i think these are the most important. There are valid arguments against using the iPad as a control system touchpanel but once you have one in your hands it becomes very difficult to say no. I can remember handing a TPMC-10 to a client for the first time. I can remember handing a TPMC-8X to a client for the first time. Neither prompted a smile on the clients face that the iPad did. Whoever you are, whatever your experience in this industry… when you see how the clients respond to this product in person you will understand why I and so many others are excited about the iPad.

I don’t think the iPad will ever be good for a commercial application. People will be prying them loose from in-wall and lectern mounts on a daily basis. I think the existing quirks will be ironed out over the next 6 months and then it will be a perfect fit for residential. Here are a few pics of the TPMC-10/TPMC-8X/iPad. Its one thing to discuss the battery life and cost but another to actually see how much difference there is.

10.4″ diagonal screen
16 Bit 65,536 colors
Battery 3 Hours
Release Date : September 10, 2004

8.4″ diagonal screen
18 Bit 262,000 colors
Battery 9 Hours (more like 2 hours with extended battery)
Release Date : September 14, 2006

9 5/8″ diagonal screen
24bit 16,777,216 colors
Battery 9 Hours
Release Date : April 3, 2010 (from wikipedia)

Prodigy Composer Is Here!

I downloaded Prodigy Composer a couple days ago and quickly went thru setting up a fake system. I spent about an hour configuring a 4 zone system with a hand held remote, an in-wall touchscreen an iphone & xpanel interface. I added lighting and climate control also. When i was done i was able to open it in System Builder to polish it up. I don’t have the hardware to test with yet so i don’t know if i am really done programming after an hour. The Destiny template looks very nice. It appears to operate just like a System Builder generated system. While i wont be able to comment on functionality just yet, i have to say that programming was quite painless.

Screenshots of the iPhone user interface :

Prodigy iPhone UI

Prodigy iPhone UI

Prodigy iPhone UI


These links will take you to a few screenshots of the xpanel destiny interface. I did not post them because they are larger than my blog layout and i haven’t figured out the gallery tool just yet :).

Crestron Prodigy Brochure Available

If prodigy had a plug and play CCTV camera and door bell-intercom solution i could spec it for a good portion of the projects i install. Another thing i would like to see is a wireless touchscreen. If Apple ever puts out a 7 or 9 inch touchpanel it would be a perfect add on for prodigy.

I am happy to see a wizard based system from Crestron. From the looks of it Crestron dealers will no longer have to look elsewhere for… well for anything. According to this CEPro article “A Prodigy system starts at about $825 for the controller, remote and wireless gateway (optional, but you’ll want it)”. This puts prodigy in line for entry level systems that we would have quoted other control systems for.

Welcome to a world where rock solid Crestron hardware is affordable and easy to install. Download the brochure from Crestron with the link below.

– Crestron Prodigy Brochure

Best Buy Worried About Walmart

I read an article 3 or maybe 4 years ago now the predicted the fall of Circuit City. It was right around the time that Walmart began to push heavily towards CE product sales. Cameras, Computers & Flat Screen TV’s. I wish i would have saved the article, it explained how Walmart would chip away at Circuit City’s #2 role in the big box store arena. What the article did not mention is how online sales would play a role. Between online sales and Walmart there was no room left for Circuit City and they eventually folded.

Best Buy is next. Whenever companies name names in commercials its because they are getting worried and maybe even a little desperate. I wish i had time to experiment. I would love to find a TV at Walmart and try to get Best Buy to price match it. They probably don’t carry the same models making this video sillier than it already is. I guess Best Buy has to deal with tire kickers also :).

Google Wave – Welcome to the future of communication & collaboration

Google Wave was introduced at Google IO 2009. I think its game over for Microsoft :). Wave is a new browser based tool for communication and collaboration on the web, coming later this year. You have to watch the video to get the full WOW.

Google Wave is what email would look like if it were created today. One feature i have to mention is the ability to imbed a wave into a webpage. The demo video shows how this is used to create a blog with it. It starts around the 20:20 minute mark.

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