Review and Photo Gallery: Control4 roadshow 2017

posted on Wednesday, 31st May 2017 by David Slater

Training  Smart home  Trade  Control4 

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The ever popular Control4 roadshow is back! Held recently at the Windsor Marriott Hotel, Heathrow, and taking the same format as previous events with a day of presentations of new products and training, Inside CI went along for a closer look.

What we got was some invaluable insights into the changing landscape of control and integration, hands-on with some cool toys, plus some fresh ideas about marketing.

First up, Control4 CEO Martin Plaehn talked attendees through the benefits of home automation. The average home has 40 connected products, so why not try and control these properly, he suggested? There are lots of opportunities out there for dealers. With some 54,000 installs now running v2.91 software, there’s great potential to upgrade your clients to some new kit. 

A robust network is of paramount importance, which is why Control4 acquired Pakedge; Plaehn says that nearly 40 per cent of common faults reported to C4’s tech support hotline are networking realted. Having support from Pakedge has helped the Control4 dealer to put together more reliable installs – and with Control4 adding Triad in its portfolio, there is even more opportunity for C4 dealers to manage and install a full platform of products.

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Korden Vaughn, Sr Director Product Manager, was up next explaining the audio story from a Control4 point of view. The main discussion focused on how installers can set themselves apart from the competition. Music in the home can come from many products - Amazon, Google and Apple being just a few. But all the emotion has gone, argues Vaughn, if we listen to music that’s been compressed. He has a point. Which is one reason Control4 is concentrating on Hi-Res Audio formats. EA controllers offer Hi-Res audio support, and Triad is the perfection addition to help to deliver the high-quality sound that, just maybe, your customer has never experienced. 

Triad is offering an interesting custom solution interiors solution too. The company can make a unique custom speaker and ship it in three weeks; speakers can be sprayed in any colour, or have any wood finish. One interesting product offering is a made-to-order sound bar, that will match a client’s TV perfectly!

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Control4 offers a full, free design service that will make your life easier when doing larger projects. The Control4 portal has been updated to offer a full range of Triad speakers, and all the customisation of the speakers can be done online, a great time saving solution. The Triad family is extensive and it will take time to become familiar with every speaker, but there are different price points depending on your customer’s budget. One plus point is if you buy Triad speakers you get quarterly rebates, so even if you are not a Gold, Platinum or Diamond dealer, you can increase your margin on every install.

After lunch, it was time for a run-through of Pakedge networking products. The Pakedge platform consists of three elements: network components, built-in intelligence and Bakpak monitoring software. From my own experience at DSE, I know Bakpak is a really powerful platform, especially if you include PDUs in the system as you will be able to power cycle any of the devices in your rack.

The presentation detailed how to specify all networking products, explaining all the major differences in the range. The floor was then opened to questions from integrators, resulting in some extremely interesting debates on how the Pakedge performs. Some installers love it, while others have had slight problems. Our experience of the product has been very good. I find one great plus point to using Pakedge on Control4 projects, and that is the support team can no longer say ‘it’s the network at fault’ and not one of their controllers!

Marketing is key to any business, and Susan Cashen, SVP Control4 marketing, provided some priceless insights during her stint. Not all jobs will just jump into your lap, so how do you market your business in this tough climate? Control4 have marketing themes that run for the whole year, these include networking, Hi-Res Audio and single room control via the affordable EA1 controller. Cashen also revealed the type of language best used with any potential client, suggesting we forget about technology and talk more about the user experience. For example, start with a one room solution, then when the customer is hooked, shown how it’s possible to expand a system into a full house solution.

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Smart lighting, now with Amazon Alexa control, has seen a large growth in voice activated lighting. It’s certainly a cool add-on to the C4 platform. Interestingly, C4 is now implementing internal sale leads that will be driven to you, this is a great solution for converting up sales from your old systems.

Once again, the Control4 roadshow has delivered. The day is highly educational and well worth eight hours of your time. I suspect installers will definitely leave with some fresh ideas for their business, along with more insight into why and how Control4 is steadily adding more products to its portfolio. Who knows, maybe soon it will offer projectors, receivers and TVs? This is one space well worth watching. 

For more, fire up out Photo Gallery below...

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a
popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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