SnapAV has launched a new remote for its smart home installations that combines beautiful aesthetics with the SnapAV’s newly acquired Control4 smart home operating system. The new remote is the result of Control4’s acquisition earlier this year of Neeo, a Swiss company that designed a sleek remote for smart homes. The Neeo remote was developed to bring together disparate connected systems in a smart home and was aimed at the do-it-yourself market.
With the launch of the new hardware, SnapAV, which announced the acquisition of Control4 in May, has kept the design for the remote but tuned it to work with the Control4 operating system. Charlie Kindel, the chief product and technology officer with SnapAV, explains that the remote works with all of the Control4 systems, and that people can get started with the new remote and a basic hub for about $2,000. That’s not entirely unreasonable, especially since many of the more popular products such as Sonos, Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, Nest, and Philips Hue, have integrations.
If you have an existing Control4 system in your home, the remote will cost a cool $600. From it, you can control myriad devices with a capacitive touch screen and a traditional AV-style interface.
The real question I have after holding the remote in my hands and watching a demo (I don’t have a Control4 systems so all I can do is marvel at its sleek lines and the weight of its charging cradle) is whether or not this product is something that will entice a consumer to buy a professionally installed smart home. Or even if it will get consumers into the dealer showrooms where Control4 systems are sold.
SnapAV and Control4 have made a big bet on the demand for well-integrated smart homes expanding demand for professionally installed systems. After the launch of thousands of DIY smart home products in the last six or seven years, what I hear most often is frustration. Even when something works well people want to expand upon it or bemoan the expense. And after an event such as Google deprecating its Works with Nest program, I think even more people are looking at their DIY efforts and throwing up their hands. The Control4 system and other professionally installed options are starting to look like more of a bargain.
For example, after years of cobbling my own smart home together and playing with roughly a dozen systems to make it all work together, I took a break from a smart home after I moved. Yes, I’m in a rental house, but other than a few light bulbs, I decided not to set up the TVs, locks, sensors and other gear I had used in my previous home. Sometimes I miss it, but not enough to go through the pain of setting it all up again and managing it.
That’s where the pros come in. And at an entry point of $2,000 it’s possible that if people know about Control4 they might succumb to the promise of a less effortful smart home. So perhaps this remote will get people in the door, or at least draw attention to a pro-installed product. Personally, I think this is asking hardware to do a lot — especially when the Control4 model of requiring people to walk into a dealer to get information and pricing is so antithetical to how younger generations do business.
So, is a pretty piece of hardware enough to draw you into a dealer showroom for a professionally-installed smart home? Or will you wait until you can buy a knock off via Amazon and integrate it yourself?