Control4 is best known for its whole-home automation services, but its newest offering is a single box that promises to smarten up your home’s entertainment capabilities. The new Control4 EA Series (that’s “EA” for “entertainment and automation”) line of connected home controllers will range from $600 for a single-room setup to $2,000 for a unit powerful enough to smarten up a large home.
Each offering in the EA Series acts like a hub for your home entertainment. The system is compatible with over 9,500 connected home products — including entertainment devices ranging from Blu-ray players and gaming consoles to cable boxes and streaming gadgets such as Roku or Apple TV.
The EA Series pitch: control all of it — along with your smart home gadgetry — using a single remote and a single app. That means, for example, you’ll be able to set your lights to dim automatically when you start watching a movie, then dim back up when you press pause or stop.
Music is another major point of focus for the EA Series. Each server features native support for a number of streaming services, including Pandora, TuneIn and Napster (Spotify is a notable omission). You can also stream music from your phone, tablet or external hard drive, including support for high-fidelity, lossless formats such as FLAC.
Control4 is also showcasing a feature called “Shairbridge,” which uses Apple’s Airplay feature to stream music from any iOS device throughout customized zones in the home. The idea is that you’ll be able to use AirPlay as you normally would, but stream your music to multiple rooms at once. The rub is that you’ll need to upgrade past that $600 base model — which only supports a single audio stream — to take full advantage of it.
That $600 model is called the EA-1. Next in the series is the EA-3, which supports three audio streams and costs $1,000. Finally, there’s the $2,000 EA-5 which can wrangle — you guessed it — five audio streams at once. The EA-1 comes packaged with the SR-260, Control4’s take on the universal home remote.