New home automation & home theater toy!


Staff member
Zanware has released their first product, an in-wall LCD based controller, allowing you to control your home automation, audio and many other things, all through this controller. It fits in a 3-gang electrical box, uses the unused pairs of a cat5 connection to power the device, so all you have to do is run 1 single cat5 drop to the unit. The unit is IP based of course, and the software supports multiple units per house.

  • HomeSeer Control -- Control devices, trigger events, access e-mail, and other HomeSeer features.
  • Media Control -- Play MP3s, videos, play lists, browse your computers hard drive and play media.
  • Internet Content -- Play Internet Radio, Webcasts, RSS news feeds, local weather, and more.
  • Sensors and Utilities -- Temperature +-.5c, light level in LUX, alarm clock, timer, calender, and more.
  • Easy Install -- Mounts in a 3-gang UL box. Single wire install with Cat5 cable and Power over Ethernet.
  • Extendable -- Write your own modules in JScript. Add new menus with XML.
  • IR Receiver -- Works with any universal remote control (included). Control home automation via remote. carries a limited # of these units for an introductary price of $275 (final price to be set soon, which might be lower if there is enough demand).
It sure does NOT look ready for prime time. Look at the IR hole... you can actually see the PC board.....jeeeez.
The controller is still in a design/test phase, so they can make changes, which I am sure they will, but I do like it, I could replace a few stick on switches with this in the living room. Price is a little high, but am sure that will change too.
I'm wondering if there is a way to mount it without using a junction box. You can't (err, shouldn't) install this in a J-box with existing power (can't mix high and low voltage components in the same J-box) and chances of installing a new one behind drywall, well, would be a pain.

I think they should have one of those oversized mounting front faces and somehow be able to "mount" the unit in a carefully cut drwall rectangle cut-out.

When you think of this you wonder, why the 3 gang J-Box size limitation?
That looks like a very nice unit, eventually when I get started with HA, I wouldn't mind having those things around. It'll be interesting to see how they evolve over time, with new designs/versions, etc. The LCD could be a little larger, and I'd be interested in knowing how the navigation is.
navigation is similar to a blackberry phones, use the button to go up and down, and push it in to select, it's a pretty nifty system, and works great with the blackberry, so I would assume it should work pretty well here too.
Cool, thats how the navigation on my Creative Zen MP3 player is, works very well, and is easy to get used to.
They just announced final price 339.00

I was looking at them but refuse unless it gets around 150.00

For 300.00 I can buy very nice touchpad on ebay and have a much better looking display with alot more function. Tobad these things look kinda nifty.

Anybody on the board bite on this?

I really like 'em, but the price is crazy. I understand the creator (and retailer) have to make some profit, but their manufactureer must be really charging them a lot for making them for them to have to sell them for that much. I bet the could be made in China for about $30 each, parts and labor.. In fact, I bet whoever is "making" them for zan is probably charging zan $150-$250 per unit, and is outsourcing it to China for $30 a unit.... Unless they're truly "American Made."
Yeah, I think it's a good idea but the 60's styling I think should be changed. That's a big box for how much can be displayed on there. I would personally just use a Leopard. I think the extra money for the Leopard would be worth the better styling and functionality.
The functionality that this offers is quite a bit different from the Leopard - this does one thing, the Leopard does another. As far as I can tell, the processors in these are a lot more powerful than what's in an Ocelot (and I assume is also in a Leopard). They do appear to be closely tied to a PC acting as a server. These are more like a pretty smart terminal than a controller.

I also think they are pretty expensive, but I looked into the cost of some of the components and they're not ridiculously priced when you add it up. If they can start making larger quantities, the prices will drop. However, the prices for components like processors don't always drop significantly until you're talking about 1000-unit orders. It may take a while for them to get into this range. And if they do, there's no real incentive to lower the price (people already bought them at this price, people will keep buying them at this price).

Electronics can be pretty cheap, but it's usually volume that lowers the price.

The extra functionality they provide like temperature/light sensors should only be adding a couple bucks to the overall price.

I agree that the styling could use a little help. The margin around the display needs to be smaller - so it doesn't look like a big metal plate with a little display in the middle. They either need a bigger display or a smaller overall size.
I like the concept of it being able to control so much and interface directly with HomeSeer, but I'm not going to jump on this right away. I think he needs to hire a professional who has experience at finding the right manufactures to do the job at the right price.

I also think the know is a little cheese. I would rather see push buttons and i would like to see a small speaker so that maybe it could be used to talk to you or maybe even used as a intercom system.

And why would anyone want a blue faceplate. I rather just paint plain aluminum to the color of my choice.
Maybe we should recommend to zan to sell a "barebones" version with no faceplate, especially since he makes it sounds like the machined aluminum face plates are so expensive.

He could make the barebones version be just the controller and the glass/lens that goes over the display and include a paper template to use as a guide to make your own plate. I know with blank face plate and a dremel I can make something that would blend into a home's decor rather easily (just like mod'n a PC case).