Universal Remote Control doesn’t just make remotes anymore. After years of integrating its remotes with other home automation systems, like Crestron and Control4, the company that now prefers to go by URC has finally taken the plunge and started producing a complete home automation ecosystem of its own. At CEDIA 2010, URC announced Total Control, a line of 14 products designed to do everything from play music and movies to tinker with HVAC and lighting.
The Total Control line encompasses everything from network system controllers, to network switches, multi-zone audio amplifiers, a streaming network player, surveillance cameras, keypads, and not surprisingly, two new remote controls.
But leave that stuff for home theater installers to figure out. More important: What you can do with it. The Total Control system allows homeowners to control up to 32 different zones within the house, and eliminates the need to purchase a different remote for every room. You can use your bedroom remote, for instance, to turn on the stereo in the living room, and vice versa.
Unlike some competing systems, URC also claims its home audio systems retain totally uncompressed sound – a boon for audiophiles – and keeps perfect synchronization between rooms. In other words, blaring the same football game in two adjacent rooms won’t create an audible lag between the two.
Similar to most other big-name home automation companies, URC has also had to jump onboard with iPhone and iPad apps for remote control, even though they apparently negate the need for the company’s own products – dedicated remote controls. Or do they? Ultimately, consumers will vote with their wallets, but the company has faith that hard buttons for channel flipping and other home theater controls will always win out against cold, hard touch screens.
Although URC will continue to make consumer-level universal remotes for home theaters, its Total Control line will remain in the hands of custom installers. The company hasn’t announced firm roll-out dates for its Total Control hardware, but it will launch its iPad and iPhone apps by early 2011, with pricing – or lack thereof – to be announced later.