I know a lot of integrators have been concerned that with Control4’s acquisition of Pakedge, customer service may suffer from the networking technology provider. So far, based on my personal experience, we have seen no drop off in the quality of our interactions with Pakedge technical support; they are still amazing in what they do.
For custom integrators, the network is absolutely critical, and we have been using Pakedge devices since we started installing Crestron equipment more than three years ago. We typically use the RE-2 router and SX line of managed switches and WK-1 WAPs—a robust system that is about as affordable as a managed network is going to get, especially with the recent price reductions in the Pakedge line.
But, it’s essential for us that Pakedge tech support remains as strong as it was, pre-acquisition. Like I said, so far so good. For example, just last week I had a Seidel security system installed by a security company, and I found out that it was incompatible with the way I had configured my network. Seidel told me that I had two choices: put the entire Crestron system on a different VLAN than it was currently on, or replace the router with one that had some additional configuration options. Both would require quite a bit of work, but putting Crestron on a different VLAN would mean bringing in a third-party programmer to change programming for the entire system—every keypad, every touchpanel, every component. It was going to be much simpler to replace the router with a more robust one. I ordered the new router and not only did they give me instructions for how to easily change over from one router to another, but as I was tight on time and was scrambling to wrap up, the Pakedge tech actually logged into the new router and did it for me. Talk about amazing customer service.
Mark Feinberg from Home Theater Advisors also uses Pakedge gear when his installs require a system more robust than an ISP solution or Apple Airports. In fact, he recently put in an RE-2 router, 24-port managed switch, and two WAPs for a client in a 3,000-plus-square-foot NYC apartment that covered three floors. The family cut the cord and would only be using streaming media and a DVD player for video and would have nine zones of Sonos audio, so a robust network was critical. However, he’s been having issues from the day he installed the network.
Network speeds have periodically slowed to a crawl—3-5mpbs—on this particular project, and rebooting the router or modem is required. While Mark has an IP power conditioner in place, scheduled reboots only sometimes work, as the slowdown may happen hours before a scheduled reboot and the auto-reboot doesn’t kick in because there is still connectivity; it’s just very slow. He has had several calls with Pakedge and Sonos. Sonos was not able to diagnose why their product might be causing broadcast storms. In fact, Mark was told “Sonos isn’t meant for guys like you. It’s meant for simple networks.”
With Sonos washing its hands of the situation, Mark was fully reliant on Pakedge. While the issue still isn’t solved, the case is still open, and the tech responds to him within hours when he emails and is available on the phone for consults. Pakedge has already sent a new router, overnight, at their cost, to eliminate that as an issue. This week, the Pakedge development team will be logging into the network to delve deeper and find out what is going on. It seems like it may be an incompatibility issue between the router and the Netgear CM500 modem. If that is the case, at least it will be an inexpensive fix.
Having a networking (and for that matter any product category) partner that is there for you and your team to troubleshoot problems and get things resolved for the client is critical. We all have a “do whatever it takes” mentality when troubleshooting issues. It’s great to see when manufacturers exhibit the same passion for customer service.