Last year I wrote a blog bemoaning the fact that manufacturers frequently pitch us new products to test, and then want us to pay dealer cost, or near to dealer cost, to evaluate the product, putting a strain on our resources and limiting our ability to bring in product to bench test. Well, TiO (Turn-It-On) saw that blog and sent me a starter kit to try out. I applaud them for being proactive and understanding that it takes a lot of investment in time and effort to evaluate a new product line, so removing the financial barrier makes it less of a burden.
TiO Control Panel
I first reviewed TiO’s website and noticed that it is targeted at the dealer market, a smart positioning in this marketplace. Initially, I gave the demo kit to a DIYer that I know well and asked him to install it in his own home. I figured this was a good test to see if a builder or electrician could install TiO without a dealer involved. It went pretty smoothly, and he is very happy with his system. Since the buyer of a home may not have any experience with home automation, the user interface is straightforward and very user friendly. While not necessarily a DIY install, it is something an electrician or low-voltage technician should be able to handle, especially with some training from TiO and its online video training library.
The product integrates with HVAC (Nest and Honeywell), garage doors (Chamberlain and Genie), shading (Somfy), and has native music streaming from TuneIn, Spotify, AirPlay, and Chromecast. TiO controls lighting natively with keypad controllers and lamp dimmers. It also sells a 100W single-zone streaming amplifier for music, a touchpanel for whole-home control, and the TiO Connect to integrate with serial, relays, and contact closures. For an entry-level, easy-to-install and configure home automation system, TiO is pretty robust and offers a lot of integration. There does not appear to be video integration just yet, and I am not sure of the depth of their driver database.
Add to this that TiO provides first-line user support to take the load off of the builder or dealer, and this is a good way to offer home automation easily and less expensively.
TiO may be a low-cost way to combat encroachment from Amazon Home Services and its partnership with Lennar. As a dedicated Crestron dealer, I do not foresee The Source including TiO in our offerings, but I could see dealers who do not have a home automation product line yet, or those competing for the entry-level systems, giving TiO a shot.