URC's new Network Keypad System, which controls both IP and traditional AV components, expands the company’s offering of “Native to the Network” products for custom installers. The two new products are the KP-4000 2-Way Network Keypad and the MRX-1 Network Base Station.
Like URC’s existing MX-5000 Wand Remote and MX-6000 Touch Screen, the KP-4000 communicates with components via a home’s local area network. While the MX-5000 and MX-6000 are portable controllers that perform IP communications via WiFi, the new KP-4000 is URC’s first hard-wired, in-wall IP controller.
The KP-4000 is built around a 3.5-inch, capacitive touch color screen. Like the MX-5000 and MX-6000, it is optimized for IP network applications, while still working both with traditional AV gear and URC’s RF controllers. No scripting is required, so installers and their clients can save time and money.
The KP-4000 keypad is designed not only for residential applications, but also classroom, boardroom and hospitality installations.
“Other brands require ‘black boxes’ that allow their devices to join an IP network; we are taking a simpler approach by making products that are native to the IP network,” said Eric Johnson, URC’s vice president of technology. “These products by nature are live on the network. They speak IP, are quicker and more reliable, and easily communicate in a two-way fashion with any other networked device via hundreds of free preprogrammed modules from URC and from our installers-only URC Toolbox, which features modules from URC installers and partners.”
According to Johnson, the KP-4000 can control virtually anything on an IP home network, including AV components like multi-zone A/V receivers (AVRs), energy management devices, PCs, iPods and whole house lighting—via preprogrammed, and drag-and-drop two-way modules.
The KP-4000 makes it easy for installers to deploy the second or third zones of an AVR in order to maximize the customer’s entertainment experience. The KP-4000 user can enjoy full control of an IP AVR’s AM/FM/HD tuners, XM/Sirius, status and volume pop-up. When a user adjusts volume on a KP-4000, a pop-up appears on the screen, labeled for the zone that’s being adjusted. The user will always know which zone they are adjusting. Essentially, the entire front panel of a networked AVR is now available on an in-wall URC keypad.
The KP-4000 offers two-way control of an iPod via URC’s PSX-2 Personal Server, and two-way control of PC- or Mac-based iTunes music collections via pre-built modules. The KP-4000 can display metadata such as lists of artists, albums and songs, as well as “Now Playing” cover art.
Via URC modules for News, Sports, Weather and Stocks RSS feeds, KP-4000 users can stay connected at a glance to the information they need via customized views. URC is currently developing additional modules for climate control, energy management, IP cameras and security panels.
Programmed with CCP
Like all current URC controllers, the KP-4000 is programmed using URC’s Complete Control Program (CCP). With CCP, installers are not forced to use any buttons, text or images that the customer may find confusing. Buttons can be programmed to be any size, color or shape; they can even be images. Text can be as simple as “Zone 2” or as descriptive as “Turn on Music in Master Bedroom,” and one-touch macros of up to 255 steps can be programmed.
Connect to the Music Library
The KP-4000 opens up whole house control possibilities for a customer’s entire digital music library. When used with URC’s PSX-2 Personal Server, KP-4000s can deliver unprecedented control of a docked iPod from numerous locations in the home, with features such as “Play more from this Artist/Genre,” “Shuffle Genre/Artist/Album/Composer,” the ability to build jukebox playlists on the fly, rich macros, and more. Using URC’s PSX-Link Software, the iPod can stay in the dock and sync with any Mac or PC in the house that is running iTunes, which means no more “white wire” issues for the customer.
In addition, URC’s free My Music module, powered by Autonomic Controls Inc., merges iTunes content with Windows Media Player content, so it doesn’t matter where media is stored, or from whom they are purchased. My Music is perfect for customers with large digital music collections who would like to queue up playlists. My Music can even play lossless FLAC files. Further, installers can even use Apple’s Airport Express to wirelessly connect PCs, Macs and Apple TVs to the AV system and control iTunes music and video through the KP-4000.
Integration with the MRX-1 Base Station
The MRX-1 base station, also announced this week, enables the KP-4000 (along with the MX-5000 and MX-6000) to issue commands to IR, RS-232, and relay components. “While everyone waits for the custom electronics industry to complete the transition to network control, every custom installed system needs a way to ‘jump off’ the network to control conventional components,” Johnson said. “Our competitors are still trying to ‘jump on’ the network. We are pleased to be able to say that URC is doing exactly the opposite of that.”
The rear panel of the MRX-1 Base Station
Via the MRX-1, most RS-232 components can display two-way volume pop-ups on the KP-4000. Via another new URC accessory, the RFTX-1 transmitter ($39.95 MSRP), the MRX-1 can allow the KP-4000 user to control single-room or even whole-house URC RF lighting scenes and paths, and even create new scenes on the fly.
The MRX-1 features six adjustable IR ports (Port 6 can be used to control URC Lighting via the optional RFTX-1) and two two-way RS-232 ports. RF collisions and crosstalk are eliminated because each IR port has its own IR engine and can operate totally independent of the others. When used with the KP-4000, the MRX-1 can handle multiple simultaneous commands over the LAN, and make sure that each component gets routed its correct command.
The MRX-1 Relay controls motorized projector mounts, screens, drapes/shades and TV lifts. Its RF input connects to RFX-250 and RFX-250i RF sensors, and enables RF control from standard URC RF remotes. Its RF output passes incoming commands to additional RF base stations, while its IR input receives incoming signals from other RF base stations, including the ZigBee-based MRZ-260. The MRX-1’s Video/Voltage Sensor ensures 100 percent reliable power management of a standard component that requires initial Turn-on Delays, or a TOAD component that only has a “Power Toggle” command. The KP-4000 features 2-way RS-232 Status Request Macro Capability; it can request the status of an RS-232 device like a TV, and based on the reply, execute an if/else macro (for example, If: TV is “OFF”, issue the “Power On” command, wait four seconds, and then issue the “Input 1” command/Else: just issue the “Input 1” command).
As part of a growing system, the MRX-1 is optimized for use with the MX-5000 and MX-6000 as well.
KP-4000 Installation Specifics
The KP-4000 fits in any standard dual gang box or P-Ring; mounting screws and cover plate are included. It can be powered by the same Cat5 cable it uses to communicate with the network using Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology. Installers can employ a third-party PoE switch when installing several KP-4000s, or purchase a PoE injector ($40 MSRP) from URC when installing a single KP-4000. Installers do not need a USB cable to install and configure the KP-4000; these tasks are all performed via the network. MAC addressing enables installation of multiple KP-4000s and MRX-1s for control of as many components as needed throughout the house.
The KP-4000 is available now for $599 MSRP. It will be initially available in White, and subsequently in Black and Light Almond. The MRX-1 is available now for $399 MSRP.