The End of Traditional Remotes & Touchscreens Not All Bad

Maybe consumers won't pay for our dedicated home automation touchscreens anymore, but vendors are bringing out profitable products for iOS and Android lovers.

Joe Whitaker · November 29, 2010

With the widely accepted iOS platform from Apple, the proliferation of iPads, and now the invasion of the Android tablets, we are mourning the days of true profit from dedicated home-control touchpanels.

These new touchscreen-enabled devices are certainly cheaper and arguably more elegant than the current crop of touchpanels in the CE pro channel. And with inexpensive control apps, they can be just as capable.

Several niche home-control developers, such as Control UI, are offering control apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms, making our customers and us wonder if the traditional remote control is a thing of the past.

Even Logitech, which makes such remote controls, has released a free app for the Revue Google TV box that will control most of the devices in the media room.

Over a month ago I did a review on the new Sony DA5600ES receiver and discovered an interesting free app called Quick Click that lets you control the connected TV, plus some third-party lights and A/V components via an on-screen display.

I thought it was cool but hoped it wouldn’t be a trend.

Is this just me propagating audio/video conspiracy theories? I don’t think so.

I have an old friend and client that now refuses the good old remote. With his Control4 system he only uses the iPhone app now.

His reasoning is that 1) the app is $99, while the remote is $200 and 2) what better way to exercise parental control than to simply remove the “remote”?

If you’re not old enough to have a phone, he reasons, you’re not old enough to control what you watch.

But wait, there may be some new profit opportunities surrounding the ubiquitous new mobile platforms after all.

With its new Touch Remote, Savant created a new home-control form factor featuring all of the buttons of a standard remote control, with an iPod Touch built in.

Likewise, Crestron’s new iPanel is a hard-button overlay for the iPad, blending the best of its traditional controllers with the unbeatable Apple touchscreen.

Both the Savant and Crestron solutions offer margin for CE pros, in an era of disappearing profits in so many other product categories. And don’t forget about all of those margin-rich mounts.

So maybe these relatively inexpensive off-the-shelf touchscreens end up being a wash for home systems integrators, with all of the new opportunities they generate.

What do you think?

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  About the Author

With over 20 years of experience in home systems installation and design as well as being an award winning product designer, Joe Whitaker currently is principal of the integration firm He is a current member of the CEDIA board of directors first elected in 2013 and is a frequent contributor to CE Pro magazine. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Joe at

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  Article Topics

Blogs · Android · Apple · iPad · iPhone · iPod · Joe Whitaker · All Topics
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