Control4’s EA Series is something entirely new for the company best known for its whole-home automation services. That’s because customers no longer need to spend thousands of pounds to get the smart home they desire and installers needn’t spend days setting it up.
With the Control4 EA series (EA standing for entertainment and automation) installers can connect over 9,500 connected home products to a single controller. That single controller is also designed to be affordable; costing around £400 for a single-room set-up or £1,333 for a unit powerful enough to power a large home.
The goal of the EA Series is to smarten up all the entertainment options available in the average home; so that includes things like Blu-ray players, satellite boxes, games consoles, TVs, multi-room audio systems and even smart home products such as thermostats, door locks, cameras, shades and more.
The reason Control4 wants to smarten up all the entertainment options in the home is so consumers can control all of it from one single remote or App. It’s similar to solutions from the likes of Logitech and Savant, but Control4 believes its solution offers the greatest diversity and power that consumers are looking for.
When users go to watch a movie the EA Series can dim the lights automatically and switch on the audio system. When the movie finishes or is paused, the lights can automatically lighten up the room again and switch back to the TVs audio or to a different audio setting. For the ultimate cosy night in, it can even turn up the heating and pull down the blinds just from the touch of a single button.
“The EA Series represents an all-new starting point for the next wave of smart home innovation and will enable our dealers to offer the Control4 experience to a broader set of homeowners and businesses,” says Martin Plaehn, CEO of Control4.
“Designed and priced to serve the needs of families just starting out with a single room solution, as well as for those automating massive residences with hundreds of connected devices, the EA Series solution can be personalized to match any lifestyle.”
On the music front, the EA Series natively supports a variety of the most popular streaming services currently on the market. These services include Deezer, Tidal, Napster and TuneIn, although Spotify is not yet supported.
Users will also be able to stream music from their phone, tablet or external hard drive; it even supports high-fidelity music and lossless formats such as FLAC, something not every product in this category does.
For customers with an iPhone or iPad, this can be done using a feature Control4 calls ‘Sharebridge’, which uses Apple’s AirPlay technology to stream music straight from the device to customised zones all around the house.
The ‘Sharebridge’ feature is designed to be the simplest iteration of multi-room audio for iOS users, as there’s no need to download an additional App and instead they can use AirPlay as they would with any standalone speaker, but instead have it stream to multiple rooms at once.
To take full advantage of this functionality however, users will need to upgrade away from the £400 base model. That model, the EA-1, only supports a single audio stream and to get more, installers will need to integrate the EA-3.
The EA-3 supports three audio streams and costs £667. It promises audio with a signal-to-noise ratio of 110dB, three independent audio outputs including HDMI and has been designed to be compact enough to be mounted behind a TV. Boasting a dual-core processor, the EA-3 is designed to automate small to medium-sized homes.
For even more audio streams, the EA-5 is also available, which boasts five audio streams in total and costs £1,333. The EA-5 features five independent audio outputs- HDMI, two digital coaxial and two RCA stereo analogue outputs with an audiophile-grade signal-to-noise ratio of 118dB, as well as an integrated five-port Ethernet switch, 2.4 and 5 GHz dual-band MIMO WiFi capabilities, plus, eSATA and USB ports for connecting local music and movie storage devices.
With each device users will also get the SR-260, a universal remote for operating the EA Series of controllers.
This remote has been around for quite a while now and installers who are accustomed to installing Control4 home automation systems may be quite familiar with it. For those who aren’t familiar, then essentially the SR-260 is a remote to replace all the remotes a user may otherwise have in their home. It comes complete with customisable buttons to personalise the remote for each room or activity and even boasts a 160 x 128 OLED display at the top.
Users won’t be restricted to just entertainment devices with the SR260 however, as it supports the ZigBee communication standard, meaning a whole raft of home automation devices can also be controlled; although when paired with the EA Series, users will be able to control most devices anyway.
While the SR260 remote will be bundled with the EA Series, users who want to control everything through an App on their phone will be able to do so for an extra $100 (£70) a year.
As with all Control4 products it will be available through the company’s network of dealers, meaning consumers won’t be able to get it off the shelves of their local Currys PC World and instead will need an installer to come and put it in. That’s great considering the fact that the EA Series is very much akin to a plug and play product, meaning installers needn’t spend masses of time on site to get their customers up and running instantly.
The Control4 EA Series is available globally now.