New Sony A/V Receivers Have Control4 Inside
Sony is building Control4 technology into the new high-performance STR-DA5800ES and STR-DA2800ES receivers, giving many consumers their 'first taste of home automation.'
The two companies announced the products – and the collaboration – at CEDIA Expo 2012. The receivers are part of Sony’s high-performance “Elevated Standard” (ES) line, and they offer 4K pass-through and other high-end features, including HDMI switching (“Yes it is really fast,” says CE Pro contributor Joe Whitaker in his exclusive review).
On top of their uber-performance on the A/V side, the Sony products also have a Control4 home automation processor built in. Out of the box, the Control4 intelligence can be used to configure the included Sony remote as a universal remote for operating a complete home theater. Via built-in ZigBee RF technology, it also can be used to configure and control a limited number of lighting modules and switches.
“We think this is a fantastic way to broaden the market to channels beyond Control4,” says Control4 product manager Noel Gouff. “Sony has a brand trusted by consumers. We think we’re sitting on right opportunity.”
The new receivers can be purchased from traditional Sony resellers, but in order to get the full Control4 feature set (two-way remote, thermostats, keypads, motorized door locks, etc.), consumers will need to step up to a Control4 dealer.
At that point, the consumer pays a licensing fee to unlock the full potential of the system.
“If purchased by the consumer and brought home, they can have a great media experience,” says Control4 CEO Martin Plaehn.
Exclusive Review: Joe Whitaker writes, “I was reminded why years ago I fell in love with Sony’s receivers.”
Sony offers an elegant on-screen wizard for programming the universal remote, and both companies worked to create a highly integrated solution for audio, video and automation.
“They didn’t just take a Control4 controller and call it a day,” Gouff says.
In our pre-CEDIA interview, both Sony and Control4 took great pains to distinguish between their two channels.
“Through the Sony channel, the home automation is wizard-based to be able to run most people’s media rooms and home theater, with a little bit of lighting control,” says Plaehn. “For those consumers who want the best benefits of Sony and Control4, they will go to a Control4 dealer.
Neal Manowitz, Sony director of product marketing, explains, “These are two independent market approaches for two separate customers.”
For its part, Sony will be advertising the receivers’ home control features, as well as the Control4 brand. The products and features also will be promoted at select Sony Style stores.
“It’s a place where custom integrators can bring their clients,” says Manowitz. “It’s becoming more challenging for CIs to be able to show all the technology.”
Bottom line, says Gouff , “Sony is providing consumers the opportunity to have out-of-box a great entertainment experience enhanced with Control4 technology. I think it’s really a great opportunity for many more customers to experience home automation. It will be the first exposure to home automation for many of them.”
The STR-DA5800ES (more channels, bigger amp) will retail for $2,099 and the STR-DA2800ES will sell for $999 – adding a mere $300 premium for the Control4 capabilities.
As for Control4 dealers, “We’re providing an expanded market opportunity,” Gouff says. “They can cut out a whole bunch of rack space and a whole bunch of gear.”
Will Sony take the Control4 technology to their TV sets? No one is saying.
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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