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iPad mini Opens Up Home Automation Opportunities

Friday morning I woke to the sound of my doorbell ringing. I raced downstairs to greet my new iPad mini at my front door, excitedly ripped open the box, pulled off the plastic, and turned it on.

Friday morning I woke to the sound of my doorbell ringing. I raced downstairs to greet my new iPad mini at my front door, excitedly ripped open the box, pulled off the plastic, and turned it on.

And I have to admit, I was severely disappointed with my first go at the iPad mini. I was so disappointed that I almost fought with my 6 year old son for my old iPad back that I gave him when I ordered my mini. It wasn’t until I dug deep and played with it for a few days that I saw all the benefits the iPad mini had to offer.

The first thing that initially disappointed me about my iPad mini was that the screen was not the new retina screen of the iPhone 5, but of the old generation of Apple product. From the knowledge I gathered watching all the Apple events and press releases; Apple did not inform the consumer that the screen would be a lower resolution than the iPhone5. In efforts to really experience the difference, I pulled up a hundred different websites to compare them on my new iPad, my old iPad and my iPhone 5.

In doing my comparison I did find that — although the colors were not as vibrant as my other devices — when visiting certain websites, the smaller screen did make the image tighter and more visually stunning. It encourages your eyes to linger on the image and want to continue to navigate through the sites.

After viewing web-related images, I wanted to see the differences in the hi-resolution photos that I had stored in my iPad. Here is where I saw the major difference in picture quality between the retina screen and the iPad mini screen. For a person who is into photography, or for someone, like myself, who uses their iPad as a portfolio, I do not recommend this as the device to use. The retina screens have enhanced black levels and a better contrast which create a much sharper photo image, which the new mini does not give the consumer. The photos on the mini also portray more “video noise,” creating a slight blur to what should be clean lines in a photo.

It wasn’t until I was iMessaging back and forth with AV veteran Richard Fregosa of Automation Programming Fregosa Design that the iPad mini finally grabbed my buy in. Rich helped open my retina screen tunnel vision eyes to the many benefits this new device offers our clients.

The iPad mini is the perfect median between the iPhone and the old iPad. From an AV installer’s perspective, customers would be much happier with a device of this size to control their main AV system. As Rich suggested, it is great for secondary locations such as a gym, game room, guest room or any sub zone to a house that would not normally have this technology installed in it.

We also collectively downloaded Crestron, URC, AMX and Clare control Apps to the iPad mini and the programming designs looked fantastic on the smaller screen. The icon selections take up just enough room in the screen without leaving dead space so that the mini actually resembles the design of a 2 handed remote control.

Rich also brought up a great point that the iPad mni will help get more people on board with home automation. We live in an age where Apple products are the trend and touch panel companies, like Crestron, build infrastructures that allow these products to control their systems. If the client is already comfortable with the device they have, it is almost counterintuitive for us to suggest an extra device when they can use the one that they have. Rich also suggested that this allows us more freedom with the budget on projects as we will be spending less of it on controlling devices and can refocus it on expanding the systems hardware.

Although my main disappointment was with the lack of a retina screen, Rich pointed out that many of the Apps that we use would have to be reinvented to work with the screen. Now, we can still use existing Apps like Crestron Mobile G and Command Fusion right out of the gate without any modifications. Eventually, Apple will release an iPad mini with the retina screen and the time interval in between will allow touch panel companies to work on the compatibility aspect so they are ready with the updated App when the time comes.

Rich encouraged me not to compare the iPad mini to the iPhone 5 or even to the old iPad. He compared the three to cars. You have a compact car, an economy car and luxury cars. They are all cars but each have their own purpose, price point and level of comfort and speak to their own market of consumers. It is up to us to decide which works best for our needs or the needs of our clients.

In this case, I was the student and Rich was the teacher. I was so quickly turned off by certain things that I closed my mind to all the positive things I would have missed if Rich did not take the time to help me see them. I always encourage networking, not only to market your business but also as an educational tool. There are always going to be different perspectives on every situation and product and sometimes, you need someone else to open your eyes and further educate you.

Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.