In mainstream media, quite a few experts are wringing their hands about how people are supposedly isolated from one another because of smartphones. But that’s not an entirely new idea. Take a look at the old 50-year old pictures of morning hour train rides and you’ll realize it’s not really a new concept. And the fact that we have lots of different rooms in the house means that we don’t always congregate at home in the same place. But that’s exactly the kind of situation that may convince you to take a good long look at the Control4 C4-TSWMC7-EG-BL InfinityEdge.

These are the gadgets you need when your family is spread out all over your home. The Control4 can function as an intercom, a baby monitor, and a whole lot more besides. Just get a bunch of these smart devices in bedrooms and key rooms, and you’re good to go. There’s no real need to holler when it’s time for dinner or to get everyone awake because the house is on fire.

Features of the Control4

Upon first glance the Control4 C4-TSWMC7-EG-BL InfinityEdgelooks suspiciously like common tablet. It measures 6.8″ x 4.6″ x 2.0″ (WHD) and weighs just 1.55 pounds. It offers a 7″ touch screen with a nice 800 by 480 resolution. It’s powered through a plug, and it connects to your Internet through Ethernet or Wi-Fi. It’s not expensive at all, as you can get one for less than a hundred bucks.

For the most part it functions like some sort of hub for your smart devices, which you ought to get from Control4 as well. The home screen for a current room shows you the many different types of smart gadgets it can accommodate. These categories include Comfort, Security, Watch, Listen, Lights, and “More”. You can also look at all the rooms that you’ve outfitted with home automation.

The Control4 C4-TSWMC7 also offers 4 programmable buttons, so that you only need to touch a single button to activate a single “scene”. A scene is a particular saved setting that includes the specific settings of all your various devices (lights, security cameras, and others). So you can set a specific configuration of lights and music for a “date” setting, with just one-touch activation.

These gadgets also come with speakers and microphones. What that means is with the optional intercom feature, you can use them to issue announcements to every room in the house with the C4. Or you can talk to a certain person from another part of the house. You can even use it as a kind of audio baby monitor, so that you can hear if your baby is crying.

Control4 offers its T3 touch screens for more complete line of features, including video monitoring. The Control4 C4-TSWMC7 is a more affordable model, with just basic features that may suffice for some families. It also enables you to control your settings through a web interface or an app, after you’ve registered the system by setting up a free MyControl4 account and then subscribing to the 4Sight access.

With this account, you can then do a lot of things. You can access your account info, download software updates, access documentation, and use 4store. You can also access 4Sight as well.

What is 4Sight?

The Control4 is a kind of home central hub for your many Control4 devices, as we’ve said. But with 4Sight subscription, you now have a way to control and monitor your home automation system from your smart tablet or smartphone, simply by using the Cintrol4 app. With the web interface, you can also have the same control with your laptop.

The Control4 system can give you various alerts for every type of situation, depending on the smart devices you’ve installed in your home. You can be warned if the smoke detectors sense fire in the kitchen, it you’ve left the garage door open, or if there’s a water leak detected. You’ll then be able to respond more quickly to the problem at hand.

The 4Sight system also uses terrifically safe and secure communication protocols, and they feature the same encryption used by banks. So you don’t have to worry about hackers getting into your system.

Here are your mobile requirements:

  • Internet connection. A 3G or 4G connection will also do.
  • Android. For Android you need the Android OS 2.2 or later. Your smartphone and tablet should also have at least a 480 by 320 resolution.
  • Apple device. You should have an iOS 5 or later.
  • Web. Your browser should be Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari.

With this, you can have full control over your home automated system even when you’re not at home interfacing with the C4 touchscreen. That gives you greater remote control, and it’s an essential component of using smart devices in the first place.

Pros

At first glance, the Control4 C4 offers several good reasons why it may be a good idea. Foremost is its price; it isn’t as expensive as all the other hubs out there. Even as just an intercom, it does offer great value.

It’s also quite good-looking, especially in black. It looks very sleek, and its low mounting profile means that it offers a subtly elegant way for you to control all your home devices from the living room or from your bedroom.

Though it needs professional installation, the upside is that you won’t feel frustrated when setting it up in your house. It is someone else’s problem, and you only need to know that after the installation it will work perfectly for you.

And it will. This is the main attraction of using the C4—all the other devices connected to this hub are all guaranteed to work. That has always been main problem with home automation in the first place. There’s no common standard protocol for which smart devices can use to communicate with one another. So we end up with this hodge-podge system that always seems to come with a certain amount of risk.

If we buy a hub made by a particular company and then buy a device made by another manufacturer, you can’t always be sure that they will go together. And even if they do work together, adding another device to the system introduces an additional risk, because you don’t know if the two smart devices will work together seamlessly. So let’s say you want your smart lights to illuminate an area in which your motion detectors sense movement. When your lights and your motion detectors are made by different companies, you can’t be sure this plan will work as you hope it will.

But with Control4 devices, you can be absolutely sure they will all work together. The company’s SOP checks its compatibility with other smart devices in the Control4 lineup. And so everything can work together as planned.

The 4 buttons for scenes are proof of just how effectively these devices can work together. We’ve already mentioned the date scene setting, but you can have other settings as well, and you can define these scenes as you see fit.

  • You can have a “morning” scene when your alarm rises slowly in volume to wake you up gently. Your lights can also illuminate gradually to simulate a rising sun. And your TV can also automatically turn on so that you can get your morning news fix as you wake up.
  • When you’re ready to leave for the office, you can then set your “away” scene at the touch of a button. All your appliances are powered down, because you don’t need them to work. But your motion sensors, smoke and water leaks detectors, and your security video cameras can be armed and ready to watch out over your house while you’re at work. Your doors are locked, and your lights and your music may be scheduled to turn on or off at different times to make it seem as if you’re home.
  • Another scene may be activated when you’re home from work. Your TV may be turned on, and your lights are turned on too. Your security system may not have to be as vigilant.
  • Then you can have a scene for when you sleep, with all the appliances and lights turned off, the doors are locked, the security cameras are working, and there’s an alarm set for the next morning.

The intercom system also offers a nice way to communicate, without having to use the smartphone. Also, the lack of a video monitor for the C4 in-wall touch screen also means that no one’s privacy can be inadvertently invaded. Many couples and teenagers don’t really want video cameras in their rooms anyway. And the audio is enough to see to it that the baby isn’t crying and trying to get your attention.

Cons

The Control4 C4-TSWMC7 can do a lot of things, but only when you outfit it with the necessary Smart Home devices for Control4. It doesn’t really work on its own. It’s a hub. Its function is to have a central command for all your other Control4 smart devices.

And there’s the rub. You’re essentially limiting yourself to buying the smart devices from a single company. Control4 isn’t terribly popular, so there’s always the concern that it may be overwhelmed by its more popular competitors.

Do you realize just how limiting it is to just use the smart devices of a single manufacturer? It is extremely limiting. You’re going to miss on many types of innovative smart devices which aren’t compatible with the Control4 system. You won’t enjoy having voice control over your devices, so that you can just speak out and your home automation system can do as it’s told (literally). It can’t answer questions.

What’s more, Control4 doesn’t quite have the sophisticated AI learning of other home automation systems. These are features that actually take note of your habits, so that you won’t have to manually set your schedules each time. Some smart systems can learn what you like and do everything you want—without being told!

It does have an intercom feature, but that’s an option. And for that to work, you’ll need to buy a whole slew of Control4 In-Wall Touch Screens for the rooms in the house. And that can make it more expensive.What’s more, the need for a subscription to enable the app can be troubling. And you can’t even setup these Control4 screens on your own. It requires professional installation, so your Control4 dealer will send a technician to set this up for you.

That kind of expensive setup is also very probably, because again you’ve locked yourself into a single company’s smart devices. So you won’t be able to choose another smart device that’s cheaper than what Control4 offers.

Conclusion

Whether or not the Control4 C4 touchscreen is ideal for you depends entirely on your own situation. But it all boils down to a single question—are you willing to rely entirely on Control4 for your entire home automation needs? The fact that the C4 offers many different categories of smart devices means that at least the company has made a point to increase the range of their catalog.

Control4 offers HVAC smart devices such as thermostats, so that you can set it the temperature control automatically on a schedule. It also offers entertainment hubs for your TV and for your sound system, you have a variety of lights to choose from, your security options include video cameras, webcams, alarm and various sensors, and many more besides.

Again, it offers you a frustration-free way of using home automation. And if something does go wrong, the dealer can send in a pro to fix it for you. The installations and the repairs are in the hand of trained pros.

So with the C4-TSWMC7-EG-BL InfinityEdge, you don’t even need a smartphone to control your devices. If you just want to control these gadgets when you’re home, or if you work at home, then it’s great. And if you’re willing to spring for a subscription, then remote access from any spot in the world is at your fingertips as well.