The Costs to Automate Home Tech
Source: Wall Street Journal
Whole-house automated systems that control televisions, temperature and even feed the fish can be a hefty investment. In the past few years, some products have emerged that promise the same functions at a fraction of the cost.
Pete Pedone, who installs AV systems in the New York tri-state area, says he used to suggest to clients a $25,000 hard drive that uploads DVDs and feeds them to any TV in the home. Now he encourages clients to purchase an Apple TV box for $99, a Sonos Wi-Fi speaker system that accesses the Internet for music and starts at $2,500 for six rooms of sound, and a Crestron "brain" for $899 to make them all talk to one another.
Sonos spokesman Eric Nielsen says the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company has launched in over 6,300 U.S. stores including Target and Best Buy since it was introduced in 2005. Upgrades are "pushed" to clients, so they never have to call their AV guy, at added cost, to upgrade software.
Apple-based automation system Savant was born out of frustration. Former telecom executive Robert Madonna launched Savant after hours in his kitchen with a programmer writing code for his legacy control systems.
"This guy was working on this for days, and I thought there has to be a better way," he says. Hyannis, Mass.-based Savant has brought the entry price for automation systems down from around $30,000 to $4,000.
"The biggest difference has been the iPad," says Mr. Madonna. "The $3,800 custom control panel built into the wall now just costs the $500 for the iPad," he says. "And no one has to ever write code to get your new Blu-ray or plasma screen working."
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