Home-automation leader Crestron is announcing a slate of new residential products scheduled for an early-2018 release, including new motorized shades, two remote controls, multiple keypads, Pyng video control, DM 4K video distribution with HDR, and new solutions for delivering A/V over IP.
The product announcements were made during the company’s recent Crestron Technology Partners (CTP) Summits held in three locations across the U.S. In all, 700 CTPs attended the two-day events in California, Florida and New Jersey. At the Summit, Crestron also announced it just completed a 10-month-long purge of 300 of its integrators, or about 20 percent of its total 1,500 authorized dealers.
According to John Clancy, vice president of residential, there were multiple reasons for the reduction.
“It was not primarily focused around low-performing or poor sales,” he notes in an exclusive interview with CE Pro. “It was a combination of things that were put into this formula. Some of it was sales, obviously. Some of it was training, or the lack thereof, and the other part was really customer complaints and feedback we’ve gotten from end users.”
Ultimately, Clancy says, the process “kind of helped build who we wanted to part ways with. We literally said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ to millions of dollars in sales to focus on the strongest partners who represent our brand the best and deliver the best user experience to the end user.”
2018 Crestron Product Roadmap
At the Summits, Crestron revealed its new residential product plans for the rest of 2017 and the spring of 2018.
Crestron has a new addition to its shade line called Horizontal Sheers that are two-position, motorized shades that provide feedback to a Crestron control system to let the homeowner know the current position of shades.
The product has the ability to both darken a room and diffuse light in rooms where there may not be enough space for two separate rollers. The shades will be shipping in January 2018.
DM XiO Director
The DM XiO Director is a companion to Crestron’s popular DM-NVX A/V-over-IP solution that distribution 4K60 4:4:4 with HDR over a 1G network.
The rack-mounted XiO Director creates a web user interface for the control of multiple NVX devices in a home. It offers real-time management and troubleshooting for integrators, and dealers could use it as a jumping off point to start offering service agreements if they desire.
“The transmission endpoints and the receiving endpoints are all treated and controlled by this device,” says Clancy. “It simplifies programming and provides you one place to look. There’s no specific or proprietary software required to interact with it. The web browser shows where video and audio are being routed and some diagnostics. It simplifies the deployment and support of large NVX systems.”
XiO comes in three versions: 80 end points, 160 end points or an unlimited number of end points. The product is due out in January 2018 and there will be corresponding training to go with it.
Crestron has shipped hundreds of thousands of DM units over the past 10 years. When the product debuted it was 1080i, then upgraded to 1080p and 4K. Now, with 4Kz, Crestron DM will offer 4K with HDR. Dealers only have to replace the input cards, output cards and room boxes for their existing clients.
“There was actually a little bit of applause [at the CTP Summit] when we introduced this,” comments Clancy. “To tell a customer who might have installed a Digital Media system in their home two years ago that they need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to replace it to go to NVX definitely is not an easy discussion. Now integrators can tell customers ‘We have you covered.’”
DM 4KZ is due out in Spring 2018.
310 Series Handheld Remotes
Crestron also plans to debut two new remote controls this spring: the HR 310 button-only remote and the TSR-310 touchscreen remote.
Shipping by the end of 2017, the $400 HR 310 is a slick-looking, high-end remote with nine customizable buttons. It is powered by three AAA batteries, and has a backlight that activates when it is lifted using an accelerometer. It communicates over infiNET EX, Crestron's version of ZigBee.
Among the unique features is a special tool that is needed to unlock the top of the remote, which prevents the customizable button caps from flying off if the remote comes apart when dropped.
Another innovation is the four color buttons on the center wheel that enable the remote to maintain its three columns of buttons. When the user presses the wheel, the white LEDs that represent the four directions of the navigation pad temporarily illuminate in four individual colors. Those temporarily become the color buttons.
“It was a cool way of keeping the button quantity down and then keeping some really interesting stylistic design for buttons that aren’t used that frequently, but you have to have them,” says Clancy.
The $1,000 TSR-310 touchscreen includes a 3-inch touchscreen with a pixel density almost twice what Crestron has in its current touchscreen remote.
It’s also smaller and lighter than the current touchscreen remote. Other features for the Wi-Fi remote include a microphone for voice control, a lithium-ion battery, and a docking station. It is due out in Spring 2018.
For the first time, Crestron’s Pyng control system will now be able to control video.
“Pyng has been around for a while. It’s gone through some significant updates and upgrades, especially over this past year,” says Clancy. “This summer was probably the biggest update to the platform since its inception, notably adding support for Amazon Alexa and Sonos in addition to an online configuration tool.
“Now, the big focus is on adding the missing piece, which is video control,” continues Clancy. “Pyng Video will support TVs, video sources, A/V receivers, RS-232 and IR, as well as DM, NDM, NVX, and deliver a consistent user experience for the entire home. Adding Pyng Video is just the natural next step.”
Clancy says Pyng has been especially popular in the MDU world where developers are installing a Pyng hub, a handful of light dimmers, a thermostat, audio distribution and prewire for motorized shades. Pyng Video is due out in Spring 2018.
Importantly, Crestron has developed an open Software Development Kit (SDK) for Pyng that allows other manufacturers to create Rapid Agile Drivers (RAD) for the control system. They will no longer be beholden on Crestron to write drivers for their equipment.
These RADs represent a change in architecture for Crestron. In the past, integrators could not swap out devices easily within the Crestron ecosystem without having to write programming.
“This architecture allows the technician to literally change the driver on the fly without ever really stopping the program or editing the program. That’s extremely powerful,” says Clancy. RAD drivers will support all three of the company’s platforms: legacy SIMPL Windows products, as well as Crestron Studio and Pyng Video.
This is a new feature that creates an easy way for end users to interact with their system. The system pulls down the channel presets from the cloud based on the client’s zip code and service provider and changes them in real time so they never become obsolete. It is searchable and also provides a live program guide so you can see what is airing. This feature will be supported in all three platforms: Pyng, SIMPL Windows and Studio.
Last but not least, Crestron unveiled a new line of keypads, which is so new it has yet to be named. The keypads, which come in both single- and double-gang versions, are highly stylized with four button styles: single, side-to-side rocker, small up/down rocker and large up/down rocker.
Essentially, a single-gang keypad could support 10 buttons. Another feature includes customizable top and bottom trim pieces that can match wood, marble or other wall finishes and adhere to the keypad using a powerful magnet. The keypads themselves come in almond, white or black.
Another feature is a multi-color backlight that illuminates the text on the buttons, not just a pinhold. When the button is pressed, it glows two to three times brighter than the inactive buttons. Moreover, each button can be programmed to glow in any color. There will be matching accessories with a similar aesthetic for 120VAC outlet, a 120VAC outlet + USB charger, and keystone jack.