Who makes the best smart home control system on the market?

Here at KINETIQ, we are one of very few companies in the nation that support all three top-tier brands, so we are in a unique position to answer this very complicated question with real-world experience.  You might ask, why don’t we pick just one control system and recommend that for all of our systems?  Simply put, there isn’t one best answer for all circumstances, and as your concierge smart home integrator, we couldn’t in good conscience recommend a system that wasn’t best suited to your needs.  We think that’s a better option for our clients than only supporting one ecosystem.  Let’s get started with why we like each system and where each falls short.

Control4

Control4 is typically less expensive than either Crestron or Savant while offering a broader array of compatibility with 3rd party hardware. Control4 is without question the largest player in residential control systems, and with good reason. It's reliable, high-quality, and works with a vast array of hardware. C4 has also nailed streaming music, with the necessary hardware built-in so you get terrific functionality at no additional cost.

Our favorite Control4 features

Value: In the past, it took a very large budget to approach what Control4 can do quite easily today for a very reasonable cost.
Compatibility: Control4 works better with 3rd party hardware such as the best lighting and shading systems on the market by Lutron. It works with more security systems, more AV equipment, more of everything. While this doesn't necessarily matter if you are starting from scratch and can select each subsystem for best compatibility, it does make it easier if you already have some smart home equipment or if you want more flexibility in the future.

Where Control4 falls short

By far, Control4's weakest link is in the handheld controller experience. The SR260 button remote feels like yesterday's technology, and the NEEO remote has a beautiful screen, but not enough buttons, and it's impossible to use in a dark room because it lacks backlit buttons. Compared to Savant's and Crestron's handheld touchscreen remotes, it simply falls short, and this is a shame because that's the one piece of equipment you interact with most.

Savant

Savant's user experience is second to none whether you use your iPhone, iPad, or handheld remote control. Built-in Savant Music extends the feature set and though the hardware options are more limited than Control4, they are all very high quality. Savant also lets the user set up Scenes, which can be a very powerful way of saving presets of your favorite audio, video, lighting and environmental settings.

Our favorite Savant features

With the release of the Pro Remote x2, Savant can lay claim to one of the best handheld experiences on the planet. The remote fells great in hand, has a responsive touchscreen, and can control more than one room by simply switching rooms. Though more difficult to initially set up, Savant's multi-zone audio technology powered by AVB is extremely flexible, and can easily power an entire home's audio from one rack of equipment, or from multiple smaller racks located in each wing of the home.

Where Savant falls short

Where Savant falls short is often on the compatiliby end of the spectrum. It doesn't support some of the most popular security alarm panels and thermostats on the market, so you really need to have an end-to-end Savant system for best results. Cost is higher than Control4 for very similar quality. Savant has put a lot of effort into its own lighting system, but since we recommend Lutron, the Lutron control via Savant, while pretty good, isn't at the same level as Control4. The app, while pretty, isn't as intuitive as Control4 or Crestron.

Crestron (and Crestron Home)

Crestron is a behemoth in the corporate and education AV/control industry, but has in recent history not had a ton of innovation in the residential space. Their latest residential project is called Crestron Home, which is essentially a plug and play programming environment with a slick interface. CH shows promise, but doesn't yet compete with Control4 or Savant unless you are upgrading from a legacy Crestron system, in which case it could be a good option. It just doesn't have a wide array of 3rd party drivers and the core functionality is very limited, although there are frequent updates that address these deficiencies so the system is getting better every month. Traditionally, Crestron has been custom programmed, which is extraordinarily powerful in the right hands, and downright terrible in the wrong ones. Here at KINETIQ, we have been custom programming Crestron systems since 2003, so we are able to deploy excellent Crestron systems, but even in our capable hands, the programming does take longer than the simplisting Control4 or Savant programming environments.

Crestron's video switching is the best on the planet, so when advanced functionality is required for video distribution, Crestron should also be strongly considered. The other instance in which we highly recommend Crestron is for very large and/or very complicated systems. For estate homes with multiple buildings, Crestron (not Crestron Home) is the de facto best choice because the power and customization is simply unparalleled.

Our favorite Crestron features

Crestron NVX video switching is simply incredible. Infnitely scalable, the video quality of NVX is second to none. Crestron's handheld user interfaces are also very good, rivalling that of the new Savant Pro x2 remote but capable of custom programming such as for custom video walls that the Savant remote cannot handle. Crestron offers much longer warranty coverage than the other players of between 3 to 5 years and for lighting and shading products, a lifetime warranty!

Where Crestron falls short

As mentioned above, Crestron Home is really not a viable competitor to Savant or Control4 if you do not have an existing investment in Crestron hardware. As far as mainline Crestron goes, there are very few downsides since we can custom program nearly any feature into the system. At the time of this writing, the Crestron App does not feature notifications and you really cannot do video intercom on the app effectively, so some of the modern features of the other systems are lacking, but the vast power of a custom programmed Crestron system outweighs most of the downsides. Of course, Crestron is going to be the most expensive of the options due to better quality hardware but also the longer programming time required.

If there’s one thing that we can tell you from our vast experience, it’s that any of these systems can be great, and any can be incredibly poor.  There are differences from one platform to another, but the experience of your integrator vastly outweighs any of the feature or hardware differences we’ve outlined above.  Compare us to any other integrator you are considering and you’ll see that our small, extremely competent team has no equal.

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About KINETIQ

Showroom (By Appt)
2571 Piedmont Rd NE Suite 110
Atlanta, GA 30324

T: 678.679.3406
E: sales@kinetiqsmarthome.com