At 5pm MT, 7pm ET tonight, Control4 will be releasing the latest version of its operating software. And if you’re not a Control4 owner, you may be yawning and clicking on another tab already. But this one is huge. HYOOGE, I tell you. Not so much in the features it adds, but in the way it changes the Control4 business model altogether.
Okay, there are new features, to be sure. The biggest is the addition of TuneIn right from the Control4 UI. I’ve been using TuneIn on my Control4 system for a while now via my Autonomic MMS-2 media server. But that’s a pretty expensive box. TuneIn will now be available to Control4 customers—for free—unlocking over 70,000 steaming internet stations, podcasts, audio books, and more. Good stuff there.
But along with the launch of OS 2.4, Control4 is also making a pretty hefty change to the way it handles mobile devices. Before now, you would have to pay a one-time activation fee to add iPhones and iPads and Android devices to the system. That’s actually pretty standard for advanced home automation systems like this. Now, though, all new Control4 HC-250 and HC-800 controllers sold with OS 2.4 will include complete licensing for MyHome (on as many devices as you’d like, and you can add new ones at any time when you upgrade mobile devices), but that’s not all. Intercom licensing is also now built into new HC-250s and HC-800s, as well, further reducing the add-on expenses associated with the system.
But wait, he says in his best Don Pardo voice, there’s more! Now, with the addition of a 4Sight subscription (which you would normally buy for access to remote dealer logins and updates and so forth), you’ll be able to control your Control4 system via the MyHome app from anywhere you have a 3G/4G mobile connection.
As I said in my review of the HC-250, remote access like this was doable before, but required me to completely redo my home network, open up ports that I didn’t want to open up, assign a static IP address to my HC-250 (which my installer neither knew how to nor was required to know how to do), which has made me all quite uncomfortable for the past few months. Or I could have gone with an expensive VPN. Which, no. Just now. Now I’ll be able to close those ports and still access my system from anywhere.
With the addition of built-in licensing, the cost of the HC-800 and HC-250 are going up a little—to $1,500 and $750 each, respectively—but that’s nowhere close to the cost of an old unlicensed controller plus the cost of the separate licenses.
This is cool news! It really brings the barrier of entry for truly connected, custom smart home control lower than ever before, and I swear, 7pm ET just won’t get here quickly enough.