Crestron at ISE 2019

A week has passed since we got back from the penultimate ISE in Amsterdam (ISE moves to Barcelona in 2021 - which will certainly be warmer!).

The show is, for us, a very different show than it is for those who are visiting as part of an integration company. Of course, we’re always excited about new technology and innovation; but on the whole, these days the latest projector from company XYZ is less important to us than the opportunity to meet with our existing clients and potential new clients.

With that in mind, it was a very successful trip and myself and Mrs. {ie} (the real boss! Especially when it comes to you paying your invoices!) met with a great number of our existing clients and some really interesting potential new partners. Some of those new contacts were from companies we’ve already had some discussions with and ISE gives us the opportunity to meet face-to-face in a more relaxed environment and talk through how we might be able to work with each other. Some were contact from new companies who have had us recommended or follow us on social media and we enjoyed meeting many new people from across the globe.

The downside of sitting in the Cafe Grand all day drinking coffee and meeting people (beyond an even higher caffeine tolerance and dealing with the rather large tabs at the end of the day) is that we don’t actually get too much time to look around the show these days. There were some key things we wanted to look at and were very targeted in visiting stands.

But, of course, it’s part of the expertise we bring to projects to be up to date with Crestron’s latest developments. So we made time for a booth tour and also to explore the booth on our own.

As ever, Crestron’s engineering department haven’t been sat twiddling their thumbs and this year there was a number of really exciting new products and technologies that are very relevant to our work within the residential market place. We’re not going to cover everything Crestron were showing, but just out highlights (otherwise, this will be a very long post indeed!)

  • DM-NVX updates

    The first big one was the updates to the DM-NVX lineup. Of particular interest to the residential market is one of a pair of new products in the D30 (there is also an E30 which is part of the eco-system as well, but I am going to focus on the D30).

    We love NVX, but there have been some challenges for installers in terms of the size of the boxes and the fan noises.

    The D30 is a stripped down version of the full NVX-350 boxes and, rather than being able to select whether it is an encoder or a decoder, this device is a decoder only (any guesses what the E30 is?).

    This has enabled several things to happen:

    It is slightly shallower (7mm) than the NVX-350 boxes.
    It can be powered by a PoE+ enabled switch.
    The fan can be turned off when no video is routed (so it won’t ever come on in the middle of the night in a bedroom for example)
    It’s around 30% lower cost than the full NVX-350 units.

    There’s a few things taken away, but nothing show-stopping (the one that might catch people out is that it does not scale, so if you have an older 1080p TV in the system, that would need an NVX-350 decoder (you can mix and match any NVX devices, so it’s not too much of a big deal).

    So, that was all cool and good to see.

    A few days before ISE there was another big announcement on NVX and that was they had worked on a new codec and moved away from JPEG2000 to what they are calling Pixel Perfect Processing.

    This is not only for new NVX units, but all of the 100,000 units they have already shipped can be updated by a free firmware update.

    We have already updated a number of units and the results are very promising. The video performance is substantially improved as well as latency being further reduced.

  • CEN-IO boxes

    Not super exciting, but really interresting for system designs.

    These PoE powered boxes are available with a range of different inputs/output options and are very reasonably priced.

    They will enable you to place a small number of inputs/outputs around the property as needed. You need a couple of relays down in a gatehouse to control the gates? Pop one of these boxes down there and power it via a PoE switch. Easy!

    4 different models:

    CEN-IO-COM-102 - 2 com ports
    CEN-IO-IR-104 - 4 IR ports
    CEN-IO-RY-104 - 4 relays
    CEN-IO-DIGIN-104 - 4 digital inputs

    Crestron have some great card based solutions, but they are quite costly and overkill for many scenarios. Of course, there are plenty of third-party solutions out there, but, as ever, you go end-to-end Crestron then you’re in for an easier ride (and your friendly CSP will love you even more than they already do!).

  • DIN-THSTAT thermostat

    Crestron have made some great thermostats for years and they do often get mounted in cupboards in big banks of thermostats on the wall.

    The DIN-rail mounted thermostats (and a range of enclosures available from Crestron) make for a really neat solution.

    Heating control isn’t exciting or sexy, but it’s one of the most important elements of our client’s lives and being comfortable and in control of your climate is key to almost everyone.

    These are really good thermostats and a great way of increasing your revenue on projects (your alternatives being to let the mechanical engineers take the money or to supply low-margin thermostats from the likes of Heatmiser and so on).

  • CH5 - HTML5 for UI

    We’ve known this is coming (and currently, this is still very much a technology in development with no hard release date) for quite a long time now (we’ve seen demonstrations of it at previous Crestron Masters events etc.).

    Crestron’s current interface development tool is both proprietary and a little quirky. We are able to create rich and intuitive interfaces with it, but there are many limitations.

    Crestron are working on enabling us to use standard development tools based on HTML5, CSS and JavaScript for developing our user interfaces.

    This is probably the most exciting thing on the stand. Why?

    Fast - the requirements on the panel are so much lower than the current Smart Graphics engine, so interfaces should be so much snappier.

    Responsive - currently, if we’re working on a project, we might be developing (and then maintaining) 4 or 5 different interface projects (so each touchpanel model, iPad, iPhone, TSR-310 etc. will have it’s own file with a project in the correct resolution etc.). Webpages don’t work like that - if you browse to a website on your phone, the webpage will present itself correctly for you just the same as if you browse to it using your desktop PC. So going forwards, we will be developing and maintaining just a single interface for all touchpanels, mobile devices etc., so costs will be reduced both in initial development and making changes to software in the future (rather than adding a button to 5 different files, we’re adding it to 1).

    Standard - the most exciting thing for us is because this is based on standard web development technologies, we are going to be able to work with web developers to help us create user interfaces. Whilst we have some experience in web development, it’s going to be really advantageous to us to work with the best-in-class developers and create some amazing interfaces going forwards (one of my side projects is studying CSS currently to get more up to speed).

    We’re expecting to see the technology start to see the light of day in beta format later this spring (I’d certainly hope by Masters as we have several lab classes on it there!).

    Super excited and I believe this enables Crestron to leap-frog all the competition and reinforce it’s premier position in the market.

So that’s about it for our most important highlights from the Crestron stand at ISE2019.

Another great show and we look forward to being back at the RAI for one last time in Feburary 2020.