Tablets and Smartphones vs. Dedicated Touchpanel Controls

Do you own an iPad, and iPhone, or similar smart mobile device?  You likely have a few that your family uses every day.  And you likely use them for many different applications, such as streaming music or TV shows, playing games, reading magazines, and more.  Now, these mobile devices can also be used to control home automation and music systems.  Anywhere you are in the home, even outside the home too, the power of control is right there in your pocket.

You might ask yourself, why then would I ever need a dedicated in-wall touchpanel controller in my home?  Smartphones and tablets are already present in most homes, often in multiples.  And new mobile devices are typically very low cost, compared to dedicated controllers which might be 2 to 5 times the cost.  The answer in most cases is usually to plan for both types of controls – a mix of perhaps one or two dedicated controllers, and then all of the mobile devices in the home as supplemental points of control.  This makes the best blend of reliability and instant access, combined with ease of use and lower costs.

A few points to consider when making this decision:

- Do you always have a smartphone or tablet right by your side?  If so, then it will likely be quite handy for quick access to adjust volume, change channels, etc.

-  Mobile devices connect to the home control or music system via WiFi, and after a certain amount of time, mobile devices will go into a “sleep” mode in which they actually disconnect from WiFi to save battery life.  When you “wake” them up, it can take up to 10 seconds or more to reconnect to WiFi and be available for system controls.  If you like instant access, then a dedicated touchpanel which is always connected might be the best choice.

-  Do your kids (or your spouse) have a habit of losing your mobile devices in the sofa cushions or laundry basket (or elsewhere)?  If so, you might consider having at least one wired in-wall touchpanel in the house that cannot be misplaced or hidden.  It’s always there, always on, and ready to give you instant access to your favorite music and other controls throughout the home.

- And because mobile devices do so many things every day, they also have a risk of problems from viruses and other issues that can compromise reliability and speed in control applications.  A dedicated touchpanel controller only performs one function – control of your system – and as such does not have the vulnerabilities of tablets and smartphones.

When all points are considered, the choice is of course up to you.  Xcite AV recommends at least one wired in-wall touchpanel control point in each home, with a combination of handheld remotes in TV viewing areas and tablets and smartphones for music and other supplemental controls everywhere else.

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