Best Buy entering home control market


Active Member

RICHFIELD, Minn. - Imagine coming home and, with the push of a single button, turning on the lights, turning up the thermostat and flipping on the TV. Another button might shut off all the lights and turn down the thermostat when you leave.

Starting next month, Best Buy Co. will sell a "ConnectedLife.Home" package that features a computer with software coordinating a high-definition TV, light switches, a thermostat and two remote cameras — all included in the $15,000 price tag.

The components talk to one another over the home's power lines and through a wireless network.

Controlling all this is a black Hewlett-Packard Co. computer that looks as if it belongs on the rack with the rest of the stereo gear. Using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Center system, the PC will record shows and send them to any TV in the house, along with photos, music or home video. Third-party software called Lifeware lets the user control the lights and thermostat.

For another $19.95 a month, users can access the system over the Internet, so they can check on the house using the two video cameras or adjust the thermostat while on vacation.

Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer, is working with security companies to integrate the system with home security services.

Other appliances — like the laundry machine — also can be added. When clothes are done drying a message might flash on the TV screen, or the owner could set it to fluff until the TV show is over, said David Hemler, a company vice president.

The package, initially for sale through the company's Web site, won't require drilling holes into existing homes. The $15,000 price includes installation anywhere in the United States.

Hemler said Best Buy has avoided using proprietary devices to make sure they communicate well with one another, but he acknowledged that earlier attempts at networking more than just computers have left homeowners frustrated.

"People are right to have a healthy skepticism based on what the industry has delivered in the past," Hemler said.
My initial thought when I read the thread title was something along the lines of "Great, another thing for the blue shirts to give bad advice about". Maybe I'm being a litte harsh, but I bet that more often than not the folks who buy the system are going to be at a loss as to what they can actually do with it, and how to do it when they get it working.
I bet the pro LifeWare installers are crapping their pants as they now have to compete with BestBuy.
I saw the Lifeware Demo house at the CEDIA Show. Very impressive what can be done with a rack of computers and multiple plasma screens to integrate the house together.

Crestron and AMX probably has some competition.
Hum... This sounds just like my setup. 1 $300 PC and HomeSeer with a few cameras and a couple of tstats and some light switches. Web access is free with my package :unsure:
I think people are in for it if they go the Lifeware/BestBuy route. 1st, I am super uncomfortable with the typical BB zit covered 18 year old "expert" selling HA, let alone installing it. 2nd, Lifeware, though cool looking, is super expensive for it's level of control, it's inherent Windows risks and the fact that their people have not been able to answer some of my most basic AV questions. They seem to, at least currently, have their heads up their a$$es as they try to compete with Control4. AMX or Crestron worry? I don't think so.
I'm laughing my head off on this one. I was in BB a few weeks ago to get a simple Leapfrog device to send a TV signal into a room that wasn't wired. They had no idea what I wanted, and I finally just found it and showed the kid working there what I was talking about.

I've had pretty much the same experience with most of my visits. They're nice enough, and very helpful if you ask them to point you to a general section, like "computers" or "vacuum cleaners". But that's about it, from my experience. I'm sure they do a nice job on video games and such as well.

My biggest fear with this is that it can cause horror stories that get repeated to the uninformed, thus causing people to mistrust / distrust home automation systems in general. HA is still at a development phase that requires either proven systems installed by professionals OR a serious hobbyist with a forgiving (and sometimes adventurous) family. I'm definitely in the latter camp personally.
Here's my, completely unsubstantiated, theory. Lifeware has been advertising very heavily, basically trying to buy their way into being seen as a serious contender. So they've been spending a lot of money. OTOH, professionals who have been to their training and asked about their installed base have stated that it's quite small, so it seems likely that they've been losing a lot of investment money between developing the product and all the ad costs.

But they've still not gotten really on the radar screens of custom installers, as best I can tell. So my SWAG is that they had to find another possible outlet, and this was a way to try to do that. I can't see any other answer, because they will have now significantly cut themselves out of the custom installer market in the future by doing this. I assume that they aren't dumb and know this will be the result, and therefore they must have written off the CI channel as a way to sell their product.

That, to me, doesn't bode well for them. I think that the BB deal is way too far ahead of where the automation market is right now and that they won't move very many systems that way either, while having pissed off the one channel that has a chance at making them successful.

Then again, I could be completely wrong.