DemoPad Centro Control system review

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posted on Monday, 26th October 2020 by David Slater

Home automation  Smart home  DemoPad 


Home technology products have moved on since I first dabbled back in 2000. At DSE we have been installing home controllers for many years.

Back in the early days it was QED and B&W Casa that first had keypads and speakers, hooked up together they created easy-access music around the home. When it came to controlling more just music, we had soon Crestron, AMX and Control4. And then five years ago, I discovered DemoPad, now back in an updated iteration.

In many ways, both in terms of usability and value, it was a game-changer.

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DemoPad Centro Control system: Description

The DemoPad Centro Control and automation solution consists of hardware and software which, either independently or collectively, allow you to control equipment using a bespoke graphical user interface, typically running on an iOS or android app.

Examples include controlling TVs and AV equipment, lighting systems, heating and cooling systems and so on. A Centro Control solution is designed using PC based designer software. You specify the devices on your IP network that you wish to communicate with, and create the user interface, either using your own graphics, or pre-defined images.

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DemoPad Centro Control system: Setup and installation
For review, we took delivery at DSE HQ of three components: Centro 8M, Centro-CM and the DM- Centro-C. The Centro-8M is a powerful central processor to handle communications between smartphones and tablets running apps. It can be configured to have all commands directed via the Centro8M, so that it can provide feedback. So if one app controller initiates an action, all other connected controllers are updated.

Macros can be written into the program to set off multiple commands. For example, send a command to turn on TV, wait a second or two then change channel or HDMI input. The Centro 8M can be used as a stand-alone device or coupled with the Centro-CM or DM-Centro-C, to expand its reach. The device comes with one HDMI port, two USB 2.0, stereo output, three IR emitters and one IR Receiver.

After unboxing and connecting devices you’ll need to download the Demopad software via Demopad’s website (this is windows only software). To add a Centro-8M processor to your project, simply select the New Centro-8M option: the software will scan the network and report any discovered Centro-8M units on the network.

You can then choose ‘Add to Project’ to add the Centro-8M. If you do not yet have the Centro-8M, or it does not show up automatically, you can ‘Add Centro-8M Manually’. From this screen, you can also select discovered Centro-8M units and access the configuration web page, set back to DHCP, or perform a factory reset, if required. Then enter the IP address (if it’s not automatically entered) and the installer password assigned to the unit. The latter is used to access the web configuration screens (default is 'password' though I strongly recommend this is changed).
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DemoPad Centro Control system: Customisation and projects
Once your device is configured, you are now able to start connecting devices and designing how it looks on you iPad or smartphone. Supporting documentation is excellent. I have to say that Demopad has produced just about everything you will ever need to become an expert very quickly. 

The software utilizes a tree system. Just add your device, tell it where it is connected to, and download any codes you need for it to operate. The main software screen is divided into several sections. The full window may be resized or maximised, and the size of the sidebar adjusted by dragging the dividing bar from left to right. Double clicking the dividing bar reveals the side bar.

The DemoPad user interface for a given project is entirely customisable. It is not specifically based on zones or activities, but instead allows full flexibility to suit the specific requirements of the project.

The user interface consists of one or more pages, which represents the screen of the device being used (iOS, android or browser). When a project is first initiated, a default Home Page is created automatically, and is the first page which is displayed to the end user. To add a button to a page, first click on the portrait or landscape icon of the page in the project navigation tree view.

Next click on Button from the Insert object page menu, the default image files are stored (typically C:\Users\Public\Public Documents\Demopad Resources\Images). Any image files contained in that folder will show up in the software when you click on the folder. If you want to use your own image files, you can place them in the same directory, creating your own sub-directories as required.

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Once you have located a suitable image for your button, hover your mouse over the image preview until another image appears, then left click and drag the button with your mouse onto the page. Once you let go of the mouse button, the image will be dropped on the page in that location. You can then move it around by clicking and dragging as required.

Actions are key to the DemoPad solution. They are triggered by events, for example pressing or releasing a button within the app or receiving feedback from a device. It’s possible for many actions to occur when triggered, with optional delays. A list of all the actions which occur for a specific trigger are displayed and altered in the action editor. For example, to enter some actions which occur when a button is released, either double click the button, or click on the action editor. Once actions are chosen you need to assign commands to them.
Once the system is built, you’ll need to transfer the file to your iPad, this is a very simple operation. Under the file menu is a publish to app option, this will open a window you will need to keep the transfer window open.

The CentroControl app is used as the primary control method for all projects. The app is free if using at least one Centro hardware device, otherwise there is an in-app purchase to unlock it for use exclusively with 3rd party devices.

On the iPad, you will be presented with a screen that asks you to scan code, this will be on the open transfer screen when you choose to publish to app on your software.

If you are wanting to control more devices with RS232, triggers, or more IR emitters you will have to purchase either the Centro-CM or DM-Centro-C.

The DM-Centro-C comes with eight IR emitters, eight Jack to Jack cables, 12 relay output connector and two input connectors. The software works exactly the same, you need to add controllers into your program then assign what the ports are connected to, there are loads of third party drivers available through the software for menu options and buttons which make integration with those systems much easier. There is a large list of manufacturers we use at DSE, including Rako, Lutron, Crestron System 6 and Speakercraft.

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DemoPad Centro Control system: Verdict
When it comes to real world use, I found DemoPad software easy to use. You can get up and running really quickly with a one room control, such as a cinema space, but this isn’t to say that the system can’t handle more complex control. As you delve deeper into software you will be surprised how powerful this system is. I connected it in our demo room to operate a Samsung TV, with Apple TV streamer and Yamaha amplifier and everything ran very smoothly within 30 minutes of setup.

After downloading my program to an  iPad the images were really sharp and clean, and having the ability to customise everything you see on screen is a very powerful tool. In keeping with the familiar user experience of iPads and iPhones, slider and gesture control is supported. You can also download ready-made templates to cover most potential situations.

If you get stuck on any of the programming DemoPad operates a brilliant tech support (with telephone calls and emails), there is a massive number of documents on its site, as well as an online forum group on the internet where you can share your problems.

Given all this, we rate DemoPad as a five-star control solution. There are other systems out there that have more control interfaces, including remote controls and dedicated touchscreens, but as an installer Demopad is well worth looking at, not least because the cost of the products to get your system together is very reasonable. When it comes to price and performance, DemoPad has the balance right.
The Centro 8M retails for £349, the Centro-CM retails for £399, the DM-Centro-C for £649 and DemoPad software £144 per user, per year. All prices are inclusive of VAT.

The products and software are distributed by Demopad, for more visit

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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