Opinions on mControl and Home Automation?




I’ve been fooling around with the idea of playing with mControl and was wondering if anyone out there has played with it before?  I’m not looking to do a full house, maybe a room or two just seeing what it’s all like.  I’ve looked at several other home automation packages for Media Center, but mControl seems to be the cheapest and has more than enough features for just playing around.

Anyone out their using Media Center with mControl, Homeseer, or like?  What do you think of it?

If you have not looked into home automation, any reasons for holding back?



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11 thoughts on “Opinions on mControl and Home Automation?”

  1. I am holding back because there are too many different combinations of devices out there. I see a lot of high end Creston\Crestron (sp) devices being used. I’ve heard mixed reviews on X10 products. Very few sites reviews the whole package. If anyone has a list of sites that do please hook me up. Currently I watch CE Pro News.
    I’d like to see a site expalining step by step the hardware used to do a certain project. Let’s assume with have a MCE connected to our living room tv. Now how do I setup a remote panel in the basement to control an audio system in a game room. Or similar in a bedroom. I am lloking to build a house and would really like to know if running 4 cat5 cable to a location in each room buys me a few years of future proofing to handle all the devices neeed.

  2. mControl has a nice interface. I’ve been using it for 3 weeks now. I use X10 mainly because it’s cheap and I’ve been having great results. I had a phase coupler installed a few weeks ago. I like the feature where if you play a DVD you could have the lights dim. If you pause a DVD, the lights will brighten – pretty cool!

  3. Sorry. It is not worth it. I played with it from the first beta release of its insteon “support.” I ended up buying HomeSeer as the best blend of features for the DIY “mid-level” budget.

  4. Chris, checkout the show coming out this week with Ted Singh from Embedded Automation.

    I have been using it for about a year and have a couple of X10 devices, and part of the new version has events, so you can dim lights automaticly when play a DVD etc.

  5. I am quite invloved in home automation. I have tried the mControl and really am not very impressed.

    Currently using Homeseer for the main control software which has an interface for Media Center, I use Mainlobby for TouchScreen Interfaces and have built a custom Media Center App to control all automation from with-in the Media Center.

    My system controls 2 Media Center PCs, 2 Linksys Extenders. Complete control of recording tuning, music, etc… all from touch screens.

    I also have complete control of all ir devices, and all security cams can be viewed through touch screens and within the media center interface.

    Also if you have seen Exceptional Innovations TV Server ($8000) I have built one that runs on XP has 8 tuners and through a combination of Mainlobby and UnReal Media Server(Free) I have the ability to also use my touch screens as mini tv screens. Total cost about $1200.

    All my lighting is Universal Power Line Buss.

    Basically mControl is nice but as a geek you always want to go bigger and there are many products out there that allow for much more scalability and user scripting so you can customize until you heart is content.

  6. Phillip: From what I understand, INSTEON is supposed to overtake standard X10. More advanced, yet backwards compatible with X10.

    Brian: Love to see a blog post about if you get around to it! I’m most interested in mControl because it’s cheap and at this point I’m not looking for a large install.

    eufreka: Anything in specific you didn’t like about? I’d like details about your experience.

    Ian: Of course, I’ll check it out. :) Thanks for the heads up.

    Greg: Very nice. What features of Homeseer move it over mControl for you? Is it just being able to do advanced features and scripting? Did you find any reliability issues with mControl?

    I’ve been wanting to find a time that I could goto one of the many trade shows that EI has demos setup at, but have yet to find time myself. I’d be interested to know more about the setup that you put together through.

    Chris

  7. What put Homeseer over mControl for me? Well I guess a big factor is I have been using it for a long time. But the main factor is the scripting. If you are familiar with asp then then options for control are unlimited.

    Also as of version two they voice control is unreal. Example. If I am in the bathroom I can say “Pebbles”(computers name), “show me the backyard camera” peblles replies with a random reply that I have programmed and then on the touch screen in the bathroom the view of the backyard cam appears.

    Homeseer also supports multiple lighting technologies. I use UPB, but before I put that in I used ZWave which is a wireless technology for lighting. And lighting is just the begining.

    The ends are limitless with an imagination. I have tried multiple different home control softwares an Homeseer was a great fit for me.

    Homeseer is the backend. The work horse if you will. All my front end (touch screens) are controled with Main Lobby which has great two way communication with Homeseer.

    Chris I sent you an email with my contact info if you want to discuss further.

  8. I have used both homeseer and mcontrol in the UK. Homeseer is best for control because of the power of its scripting.

    However, where Homeseer falls down is its MCE plugin, its looks really bad and doesnt display very well. This is why on MCE I have found mControl much better

  9. Remember, the next release of mControl (next week) can be used in conjunction with Media Center Communicator. It’s gonna be cool.

    Isn’t Homeseer like $200-$300? Way too much for me.

  10. Brian, Greg – sounds like you guys have some experience with Voice Control? I’m interested in the voice control aspect but I’ve had voice control gadgets in the past and found them to be poor in recognising the trigger command phrase or actually triggering from other audio sources like the TV. I’m a little bit like Chris in that I want to dip my toe in but a good quality array mic is like $260..its too expensive a risk without some real endorsement that this stuff works…

    Chris, after your post I had a look at mControl and installed the trial version with some new Z-Wave kit I just bought – blogged the experience with it here if you are interested;

    http://jimblogdog.blogspot.com/2006/08/riding-z-wave.html

    To summarise its working very well and the macros are very cool – especially the MCE events hook in like Play DVD triggering the lights. It lacks condition triggers (or I just don’t know how they work)…eg: IF time between 10pm and 6am AND PIR triggers THEN perform some action.

    Cheers,

    James

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