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What happened to UPB!?!?


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#16 ano

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 10:32 PM

Another explaination....

 

Fry’s Electronics stores are looking empty as they go through changes
By James on November 18, 2019

 

If you have been through a Fry’s Electronics location anytime recently, you might have noticed that their shelves look a bit barren. In fact, certain stores look nearly empty. You may also find fewer employees walking around. All of this giving you the idea that they might be shutting down.

 

It seems that might not be the case (at least not yet). Fry’s Electronics is apparently going through changes, specifically with their main business model. They are changing from their normal retail approach of buying stock and reselling it on their shelves, to a consignment approach similar to other big companies like Walmart and Best Buy.

 

This basically means that they are switching to a model that doesn’t require Fry’s to pay manufacturers for their products unless/until the products actually sell. Let’s say that they received stock of 10 Xbox One X consoles into a store. Normally, they would have ordered them from Microsoft at cost and paid from the start (then profit on whatever they sell it for beyond that price). However, this isn’t the case any longer.

 

Now, Microsoft sends 10 Xbox One X consoles to a Fry’s Electronics store, and Fry’s doesn’t pay a thing for that stock unless it sells. At least, that’s the idea. These companies behind the products that are sold in these stores are fully responsible for if the product does or does not sell. So if those Xbox One X’s don’t sell, then Fry’s can simply send them back to Microsoft without any risk on their part (and the manufacturer takes the loss).

 

This is what Walmart built itself upon and allowed them to blow up so quickly. No more field destroyed goods or “return to vendor” inventory that sometimes only resulted in partial credit for stores. They no longer have to worry about over-ordering products. I mean, what do they care if they don’t sell now? It’s no longer Fry’s problem.

 

That is of course if all of the companies agree to this new business model, which they haven’t yet (Microsoft was just used as a convenient example). There is no way of knowing how many companies might have jumped on board yet. But they (Fry’s Electronics) won’t order any new stock until *all* of the companies agree to their new demands. Judging by the fact that months have gone by resulting in barren shelves, I’d say they aren’t getting the response they were hoping for.

 

With the holidays coming up quickly, this isn’t a good thing for the retail chain. If they can’t the companies to agree to this, it could force Fry’s Electronics into closing stores or closing completely. Maybe they might shrink down into the footprint of a Radio Shack and eventually fade away over time. Or, maybe these companies will jump on board and Fry’s will be right back to what they were before all of this.

 

Clearly, Fry’s is trying to cut down on liability and overhead costs (which then cuts down on loss). This isn’t always good for the manufactures, but it is (in a way) fair when you consider who should be responsible if a product releases but fails miserably. The company that created the product, or the store trying to make a living reselling it.

 

At this time, Fry’s Electronics is not admitting to the chance of having to close any stores. They are telling their employees the same. One store within the chain is closing for sure, but this is only due to an expired lease and unrelated to the above news (per the retail company).

So with the holidays right on their tail, it will be interesting to see what happens.


Edited by ano, 24 November 2019 - 10:33 PM.


#17 pete_c

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 06:35 AM

It's been a couple of years now that I have not purchased anything at Fry's here in the midwest at their Downers Grove store.

 

It became a DIY effort mostly looking for what I wanted to purchase and the staff was mostly clueless.



#18 ano

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 01:16 PM

It's been a couple of years now that I have not purchased anything at Fry's here in the midwest at their Downers Grove store.

 

It became a DIY effort mostly looking for what I wanted to purchase and the staff was mostly clueless.

I always liked spending a few hours at Fry's, but to be honest, I never bought much there. Customer service was never their thing. I guess if I saw something that I like, I would just go home and research it on-line, and then buy it on-line.  I suspect that I wasn't alone.



#19 bbrendon

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Posted 01 December 2019 - 12:16 AM

UPB isn't even in Home Assistant yet. Considering the size of the Home Assistant install base, I'm very surprised.

 

But that only attests to how dead UPB is.



#20 webmtn

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Posted 18 December 2019 - 01:53 PM

My apologies for the delay in responding to this thread.  I would like to provide some updated information relative to the state of the UPB market. 

 

As many users of this forum know, over the years, there have been 4 major vendors of UPB.  PCS (Pulseworx) is the inventor of UPB and licensor of the technology.  Then, there are the three major licensees - HAI (now Leviton), Simply Automated, and Web Mountain (for disclosure, I'm Web Mountain).  PCS, HAI, and Simply Automated manufactured all their own products while Web Mountain resold many of the others products, but we also took some SA products and reprogrammed them with our own Gen2 firmware and sold them basically as SA hardware but with Web Mountain Gen2 firmware (SA's products are all Gen 1).  I'm not going to go into Gen 1 vs Gen 2 - that has been discussed in great detail on these pages before.  There are a few other companies that either resold UPB products or had a deal with someone, most notably PCS to provide specialized products.  But, these are the four major providers.  Over the years, there have been multiple millions of these products sold, mainly through professional dealer / integrators and hobbyists / DIYers.   There is a very sizable base of UPB products installed.  I commonly get calls saying that the user has had a system installed for many years and they need a bit of help with the system, perhaps because the original installer is no longer in business or other reasons.  As mentioned earlier on this thread, we've had a pretty reliable base of products.

 

There was a comment earlier in this thread about not selling UPB in the big box stores.  UPB was never intended as a product for use by a non-sophisticated user.  There is a learning curve, you typically use UPstart to do the programming, and it's a very sophisticated and flexible protocol, so it doesn't lend itself to someone walking in off the street and buying a device.  The sales strategy has typically been to sell to dealers and sharp hobbyists / DIYers - the type of folks you find on this forum.   Plus, if you are a professional integrator, do you want to sell a product that anyone can walk into a big box store and purchase themselves?  Most of the products can be bought online at various places - our own webstore, PCS, Home Controls, Simply Automated sells some products on Amazon, etc.

 

As most of you are now aware, Leviton has announced they are dropping support and manufacturing of their UPB devices.  We were surprised it took so long for this to happen.  When Leviton acquired HAI, we saw the handwriting on the wall, as Leviton is one of the larger Zwave providers.  Having said that, I do want to acknowledge the role HAI has had with UPB over the years, and especially mention their original management team, including their president, Jay.  They were great folks to work with, and even though they were a competitor, they had our great respect.

 

But, if you are an Omni user and want to continue using UPB, there is help available.  PCS, SA, and Web Mtn still provide almost any product you want, and PCS has come up with some adapter cables to ease away from Leviton branded parts and to products from the other vendors.  It might mean that as an Omni user, you can't use the old HAI method of adding devices to your system and you might need to become much more familiar with Upstart, but I would propose that that's a good thing.  Upstart is a wonderful tool and provides UPB users with great advantages.  Any of the vendors can help you come up with solutions and help you come up to speed with Upstart.

 

Additionally, SA has had a change in management over the past year.  The original founder passed away, the general manager and president left, and they have a new management team.  We have had some supply disruptions as the new management team comes up to speed, but they're getting better and better as each day passes and they come up the learning curve.

 

And, there are new products available.  PCS has several - we, Web Mtn, have just released our RUC-02, our second generation of our original RUC unit, that works with Amazon Alexa for voice control of UPB, and other functionality, with more  functionality to come. 

 

So, UPB is still here, and you still have multiple vendors of products, and the UPB vendors are ready, willing, and able to support you as needed. If anyone has specific questions, don't hesitate to contact one of the UPB providers.



#21 ano

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Posted 18 December 2019 - 03:25 PM

Thanks. Very good information.  Where can you find more about the RUC-02?  Your web site doesn't mention it. 

 

I have always been very happy with UPB. The fact that it can run "stand alone" mode switch-to-switch has always been very helpful.  I will also say, over many years with many switches, I have had very few failures. If any switch were to fail, it was most likely the switch contact, not the UPB electronics.



#22 bbrendon

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 01:23 AM

@webmtn I had a minor rant on HASS Forums about UPB :).
 
This forum seems more appropriate for a response but I didn't see the above post before I wrote on the hass forum.

Edited by bbrendon, 19 December 2019 - 01:24 AM.


#23 samgreco

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 04:57 PM

@webmtn - There is also someone working on a binding for OpenHAB here:  https://community.op...g-for-oh2/88912
 
I actually started to flip over to ZWave and Zigbee.  But they just don't work as well as UPB.  And finding ZWave switches today with multiple buttons is damn near impossible.
 
So I am in limbo deciding which way to go with software.  Glad you're jumping in to help.  I may just stay with UPB.

Edited by samgreco, 05 January 2020 - 04:57 PM.


#24 bbrendon

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:16 PM

There is a working UPB hack for HASS. It's a bit hard to setup and your linux needs to be descent to get it working, but once it's working it's solid.

 

We all await the day a native solution exists for HASS.



#25 simplextech

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 11:38 AM

There is a working UPB hack for HASS. It's a bit hard to setup and your linux needs to be descent to get it working, but once it's working it's solid.

 

We all await the day a native solution exists for HASS.


And like most things with HASS it will likely be broken on the next update or you encounter an error in your system and you post to silence on the community and the developer doesn't even respond with any inclination of assistance.  Open Source is great for some things.... HASS is good but not ready for managing my home or for me to recommend to anyone without serious Linux background and who wants to tinker.

 

CQC and HomeSeer both have UPB.



#26 samgreco

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 12:15 PM

The problem is that they all have some short coming or other.  I have almost pulled the trigger on CQC a few times.  But there is no support for streaming media as far as I can tell.  Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, etc.  To me, that's an issue.

 

But HASS and OpenHAB suck at handling media in general.  Especially local libraries.  And matrix devices like Russound, etc.  Yes, they support some. But have no concept of how to manage media with them.



#27 simplextech

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 01:44 PM

The problem is that they all have some short coming or other.  I have almost pulled the trigger on CQC a few times.  But there is no support for streaming media as far as I can tell.  Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, etc.  To me, that's an issue.

 

But HASS and OpenHAB suck at handling media in general.  Especially local libraries.  And matrix devices like Russound, etc.  Yes, they support some. But have no concept of how to manage media with them.


Streaming media sucks on all of the systems.  That's the problem with all of the DRM it's nearly impossible to integrate except at a hardware level.  Most platforms now have a means for starting playback on Roku.  Some with FireTV (this is a hack) but it mostly works.  Allonis has worked on some of music playback services but I don't know how well it's implemented.  Even trying to integrate Kodi is a hack and doesn't work quite right.  I prefer to just use a Roku and have limited control that way.

 

The online services really don't want anyone integrating with them except for mobile apps which is a shame.  I've integrated Sonos via the API but it's still cloud dependent but it works to play online services to whatever speaker I choose. 

 

As for "managing" media... nobody I know of does media management with any online service. 



#28 pete_c

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 01:53 PM

@bbrendon

 

Want to give a try to your HA UPB solution.

 

Found this:

 

hxxps://pastebin.com/czWwKbhZ

 

Is this my starting point?

 

Currently running HA / HS on one box here.



#29 bbrendon

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 05:32 PM

I'll preface by saying I'm a HASSer and X-CQCer. I haven't use other products heavily.

 

@simplextech - HASS has better UPB support with the "hack" than CQC does.

 

@samgreco - I totally agree. No system is perfect and everyone is going to like something different. I personally gave up on managing media exclusively inside the Home Automation environment. 3rd party apps and voice control are 10x better in my opinion. I looked at it when I was using CQC and it was limited in scope of what you could do and a lot of work to get working well. I'm much happier with a hybrid approach that uses 3rd party apps, voice control, and the home automation software to augment control where automation make sense. I also think part of the issue here is that many of the good APIs are closed off to the very big boys. For example, HASS, CQC, etc have no access to the official Sonos API.  I haven't used Control4 or Crestron but I'm guessing they get access to it.

 

@pete_c. I'll send you my nasty hack. If you're brave, try and get it up and running and msg me any questions. Oh, and promise not to laugh :)

The easy part is here : https://github.com/b..._components/upb

I'll email you the reset that solves the first two limitations on the github readme.



#30 simplextech

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 06:41 PM

I'll preface by saying I'm a HASSer and X-CQCer. I haven't use other products heavily.

 

@simplextech - HASS has better UPB support with the "hack" than CQC does.

 

@samgreco - I totally agree. No system is perfect and everyone is going to like something different. I personally gave up on managing media exclusively inside the Home Automation environment. 3rd party apps and voice control are 10x better in my opinion. I looked at it when I was using CQC and it was limited in scope of what you could do and a lot of work to get working well. I'm much happier with a hybrid approach that uses 3rd party apps, voice control, and the home automation software to augment control where automation make sense. I also think part of the issue here is that many of the good APIs are closed off to the very big boys. For example, HASS, CQC, etc have no access to the official Sonos API.  I haven't used Control4 or Crestron but I'm guessing they get access to it.

 

@pete_c. I'll send you my nasty hack. If you're brave, try and get it up and running and msg me any questions. Oh, and promise not to laugh :)

The easy part is here : https://github.com/b..._components/upb

I'll email you the reset that solves the first two limitations on the github readme.


I'll preface that I don't have UPB so I'm not aware of the quality of the HASS integration nor it's support. 

 

I have used HomeSeer and I'm evaluating CQC for myself and other purposes.  I can say I've gotten far better support from HomeSeer and from CQC than I have relying on the HASS community for anything.  And yes I do run HASS but not at the moment because the ISY integration is borked for some reason.  This non-functional integration has been over a month which is not cool.

 

HASS is cool and lots of neat stuff but I wouldn't want to rely on it being the "center" of my HA system.






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