[CES] 2006 Exclusive Update


Please read THIS General CES 2006 Update Disclaimer FIRST:

I spoke briefly with Richard Webber with Monster.

NOTE: This was a very quick interview and left a LOT of details hanging. I tried (twice) to go back to Monster's booth to tie up loose ends, but really couldn't get anyone that could explain this technology any further. Again, sorry for any confusion that is about to follow. Also note that I had a voice recorder and played this interview back while documenting the information below.

They ventured into lighting controls using proprietary switches (shown below) used with their remotes (which talk via RF to their power centers).

They have two remotes that will come out early this year. One is the 100 series which is an audio/video home theater controller (similar to Harmony and is programmed similar to their remotes) and the other is a 300 series controller which includes lighting control. Programming these remotes is done via their web site.

They work by transmitting RF to their "empowered" power centers which then talk to their lighting systems via RF. These centers also have "IR" repeaters for talking to AV equipment.

You can have multiple power centers in each room in your home and have one remote control any lighting or AV system connected to those power centers.

Monster also will come out with table top style of controllers as well as smaller key chain type controllers.

Monster Switches:

(Click on Picture for Full Sized Image)

Hey Guys,

Here's a pic of our RF remote.
It will retail $499. The remote comes with a charging base, RF to IR converter and IR blasters for A/V components. The RF technology is indeed Z-Wave and the remote can control any class of Z-Wave device that is currently available. We configure the remote via the web so updated to make it compatible with future Z-Wave device classes will be available.

We weer misqouted on the lighting products. Our lights are z-wave compatible. Any Z-Wave remote can pair with our lighting modules. We do have some additional feature sets when you use our remote and lights together that you normally can't do with just an off the shelf Z-Wave lighting moddule. The remotes will be shipping in about 3 weeks.

Chris Greene
Home Of the Future Monster
hi Chris, welcome to CocoonTech!

Can you tell us what the major differences are between this remote and the Harmony 890 which supports Z-wave as well? Thanks!

If anyone has Monster questions feel free to email me [email protected] the worst I can do is forward anything I don't know off to the right people. I am also trying to work on a blog here but I have been swamped lately trying to get ready for CES. I'll post more often now that we're in the slow season.

As far as our remote vs. the harmony 890, we have several key differences.
We have a system a/b button on the lower right corner olf the remote that will switch between 2 full systems. If you have a bedroom system and a home theater, you can program both into the remote and flop between them as you change rooms. We also have 3 additional buttons that are user programmable.

The form factor is very different. We did a lot of market research on the Harmony remote before we designed our own ID. We found that people didn't like the small buttons and were bothered by the fact that all the buttons on the Harmony chasis are flush with the casing. Our buttons rise above and have a much nicer tactile feel to them. If you don't beleive me you can ask my wife. I had a 880 at home for months while we developed the 100 and 300. She hated it. I brought her a prototype 100 about a month ago before we went into final production and she won't let me take it back to the office. Most of the usability was the same she just preffered our form factor because she didn't need to look at the remote to see what she was doing. She's been at home now for a few weeks resting because she's pregnant and she's quickly becoming better versed in the remote that I am.

We also have a surround mode button so that when you use an activity you can still change surround modes on the receiver without going back to component control and searching through pages to find the different surround settings. This was Noel's idea. He loves twekaing on different sound modes for different content and his Crestron system at home doesn't do that very well.

Our online programming expereience for lighting is also completely different. I'll post some screen shots to my blog this week if anyone is interested.
I almost forgot, we also have a "Lighting" button on the top so you can access and control lighting scenes directly. The Harmony you have to go through sub menus to get to lighting functions.

Chris Greene
Home Of the Future Monster
Do you have any pictures of the remote in action? Too bad I don't have any Z-wave hardware, or I would be asking if I could borrow one for a review :lol: Looks like a great piece of hardware, thanks for taking the time to respond to our questions here!
I do have a good bit of zwave devices and would love to review this remote. I will contact you via e-mail.
I'm glad to answer anything I can. Kinda cool that you guys are getting the scoop before Engadget. :lol:

Here's a couple of pics of the web configuration screens. The Romance activity / lighting screens are just design mock-ups right now. We are going to integrate the lighting programming logic next week but these screens should give you some idea of the user expereience that we are trying to create.





I recently received this information from Elbert Lee of Monster (posted with his permission):

The MCC AVL300 will be the first remote to have a Z wave chip. In order to offer a remote that will be as consumer friendly as possible, we chose Harmony has our partner to provide the IR database and web infrastructure for us to create activity based AV control.
Monster was also interested in adding the ability of lighting, HVAC, drapery control with expandability toward other logical "home automation" devices to the remote as strong value-added features in "form friendly fashion" so that any consumer / DIY installer can accomplish these feats of home automation without expensive programming.
Because Harmony is also in the control business, we welcomed their participation in this endeaver to include Z Wave in their RF remote as well.
Monster will be launching the lighting skus by the end of April, 2006 with the remotes (MCC AVL300 and MCC AV100) on February 15.
The MCC AVL300 is Z Wave enabled and will be capable of interoperability with other Z Wave devices. We may not be offering all of Monster Central website configuration of drapery, HVAC or other Z Wave device classes initially at the launch, however, we will be including some of as these devices matures and if demands for these features dictate. However, it will be capable of being set up to control most all Z Wave lighting products.

There will be some significant features on the Monster lighting modules that the MCC AVL300 will be unlocking that will not be available on other Z Wave modules. I will be happy to go over these with you and discuss them with you at your convenience.

Best Regards,
Elbert Lee
Product Category Manager
Monster Central Control Systems
Monster Central Lighting Systems
Will either of the remotes be able to acts as a secondary controller? I currently use my USB controller as the primary and prefer it to stay that way.
Out of curiousity, was any of this worked on with Logitech/Harmony?

Some of the screens have a very similar feel to their programming site. Although on others it looks like they have been improved upon quite nicely.

Not a knock at all if so, I was exceptionally pleased with the ease of use of the Harmony programming, and if this is based off of that the workflow should be quite nice.

My one suggestion though: My only complaint to date on the Harmony approach is keeping the website accessible. Recently their site was bogged down to the point of being unusable (30 second load times with many time outs). They noted it was exceptional volume and that the issue has been corrected. Just a helpful note as that is the one drawback of web-based programming.
I too noticed similarities with the Harmony web site, to the point that it made me wonder if a third party company is writing this software. If not they have enough similarities that a lawyer may not like it. :unsure:
To answer the Harmony question, yes. We partnered with Harmony / Logitech to develop our remote concept for several reasons. The most important is the Harmony software and database. The sheer magnitude of data and how much metadata they attach to it is really amazing. Harmony built a platform where they track the manufacturer, model number, IR data, and realtaed connections, types, and names. It's really impressive. We felt that we did need to redeign the software. You'll notice that we now use an application that features an embedded browser instead of just launching via Safari or IE. It's a much cleaner interface and the wizard sections don't get you locked up in strange loops like the last rev did. We're pretty proud of the changes we made to the Harmony programming platform. There are going to be several additional upgrades to the software released in the first month or so that should improve features and usability expereience even more. Logitech is a great partner. They have really helped fill in the gaps that we couldn't develop in-house ourselves.