Control4 delivers home automation Starter Kit for under $1,000@ 2012/06/29
The Starter Kit can enable control of a single room, which may be fine for some users -- to add additional home theater setups you can bring on more HC-250s at $599 a pop. There's also an option to add ZigBee lighting controls ($129 per switch), ZigBee door locks ($150 to $350) or a door intercom unit with camera ($799). All-in, outfitting a large home can be quite pricey, and the Starter Kit is designed to get folks in the door, rather than to deliver a complete solution. We tested the controller with a TV, audio system, a pair of lights on two zones, the door intercom and a deadbolt, and all performed seamlessly without an hiccups. We also took a look at the intuitive drag-and-drop PC-based interface, which owners can use to change macros and add media. Introducing new components to the rig will require a dealer service call (or remote access, if you're just trying to loop in something like a NAS to serve up content). The Control4 Starter Kit is available through third-party dealers beginning today, including Magnolia Home Theater in select Best Buy stores (in that case, Geek Squad will handle the install). That sub-$1,000 figure factors in two hours of labor, and may climb a bit higher depending on dealer rates. Still, if you're just looking to get your feet wet, this seems to be a solid solution. Thumb through the gallery below for a closer look at the components and interface.