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Crestron Announces Pricing, Specs for Low-Cost Prodigy System

Prodigy starts at about $825, with a typical whole-house system costing about $5,500 -- a good price for the mass market


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Since CE Pro broke the news on Crestron Prodigy, we’ve had an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the new low-cost control system from the company best known for pricey products.

During a recent tour of Crestron, led by CEO and founder George Feldstein, I got to see all of the little goodies that will comprise a Prodigy home automation system.

First of all, Crestron wants to make it perfectly clear that the company did not launch Prodigy to “go after” Control4 or any other low-cost home automation provider, according to executive VP Randy Klein.

“We developed a line that is consistent with what we’ve been doing,” he says. “Prodigy broadens the market.”

Klein acknowledges that some Crestron dealers also offer lower-cost lines. “We would love to have them use us,” he says.

Klein believes Crestron can beat out other players in the world of affordable automation because of the company’s heritage.

UPDATE: PRODIGY & SIMPL
Guess what? You can program Prodigy using Crestron’s SIMPL programming software! It sort of misses the point of Prodigy, which is supposed to get the installer in and out of the house, but if you want the customization capabilities of SIMPL, with the affordable hardware of Prodigy, go for it. Still, you cannot use SIMPL to link Prodigy with non-Prodigy Crestron devices. Sorry.

This word Crestron means a lot,” he says, rattling off the locales of Crestron offices worldwide, touting the company’s enormous RF testing chamber, and boasting of Creston’s profitability on $400 million in annual revenues.

“We control our own destiny,” Klein adds, noting that Crestron doesn’t rely on venture funding.

The goods on Prodigy—including the prices—can be found in the Prodigy slide show.

What’s in a Prodigy System?

In a nutshell, the system starts with the ZigBee-compatible (802.15.4) PMC2 controller and PLX2 two-way ZigBee remote – sold together for $700 retail.

Out of the box, the PMC2 supports up to six PLX2 remotes. It supports 100 RF devices in total but you’ll need to add the P-MNETGW wireless gateway to gain control over switches, dimmers and thermostats. The gateway, meanwhile, lets you add another 30 wireless devices.

Note carefully the restrictions on RF support. For example, the gateway supports 30 RF devices, but only 18 of them can be dimmers/switches. Similar restrictions apply to the PMC2.

One particularly interesting thing about the Prodigy lineup is the PTL4 in-wall touchpanel. The product is Windows SideShow-enabled, providing access to Web-based content such as news feeds, sports scores and email. (And we thought Sideshow was dead.)

Perhaps the coolest thing about Prodigy is the companion demo kit.

It basically comes with one of everything, and if you buy the kit, you get a free Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop fully loaded with Prodigy Composer software.

As previously reported, the software is Wizard base, with “no programming required,” according to Crestron. The Prodigy controller is compatible only with the Prodigy line of products, and does not communicate with other Crestron devices.

How Does Prodigy Pricing Compare?

A Prodigy system starts at about $825 for the controller, remote and wireless gateway (optional, but you’ll want it). One dealer did a quick-and-dirty price comparison with Prodigy and similar products on the market.

The sample system included four zones of audio, one thermostat, 15 wireless light dimmers/switches and an in-wall touchscreen. The retail pricing for Prodigy was about $5,500—nearly the same as the competition.

Crestron will be demonstrating Prodigy for the first time at CEDIA Expo 2009.



  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]

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