SmartLabs RemoteLinc

Posted on
Tue May 01, 2007 10:50 pm
sugihs offline
Posts: 28
Joined: Apr 18, 2006
Location: La Canada, CA

SmartLabs RemoteLinc

After much anticipation, a two-quarter delay, and some botched pre-annoucements, Smarthome finally has "pre-released" their handheld Insteon remote, the RemoteLinc:

http://www.smarthome.com/2440.html

As of tonight (01-May-2007), though the RemoteLinc is in the catalog that I received today, you can't get to the above product page browsing through the Smarthome website, though you can search on the product number. Smarthome is accepting pre-orders. Some people are doing a beta test:

http://www.cocoontech.com/index.php?showtopic=7472

There's been quite a bit of speculation (most of it quite accurate in hindsight) about the device in the past ten months on other home automation boards. The only big revelation now that the specs are known is that it won't work with the SignaLinc RFs, even though I seem to recall Smarthome has been selling the SignaLinc RFs for well over a year with the promise that they would act as a receiver for forthcoming RF devices. Instead, the RemoteLincs require a separate RF receiver, the Access Point (2443):

http://www.smarthome.com/2443.html

This is pretty infuriating. I suspect Smarthome knows that we'll be disappointed so it seems they're offering a SignaLinc RF trade-in program to quell the inevitable angry mob:

http://www.smarthome.com/accesspointupgrade.html

This has a few problems:
    They've structured the trade-up program so that you must purchase two Access Points, then send in two of your SignaLinc RFs, then they'll send you a free RemoteLinc. This will probably generate a lot of confusion since people have been salivating for the RemoteLinc for months and will likely order those first. But the proper sequence is to order the Access Points *FIRST*, then return your SignaLinc RFs, at which point you will receive the RemoteLinc.
    With the upgrade program you get *REFURBISHED* Access Points, not new ones. Why would they ship you refurbished Access Points when they haven't even shipped yet? Are they anticipating a high failure rate? Do they have a warehouse full of refurbished Access Points from a problematic testing period?
    The requirement for Access Points to essentially replace the SignaLinc RFs indicates they must've had problems w/ the SignaLincs. This doesn't bode well for the RF part of Insteon, at least in the near future. It's taken SmartLabs two years to release the first RF Insteon controller.


And as for the RemoteLinc itself, I guess we'll have to wait and see how it works. When its form factor was first disclosed on CocoonTech, the response was almost universal derision from the picky Cocooners. They thought it was hideously ugly and ungainly. Most people want a small, handheld remote you can carry on your keychain. The RemoteLinc is being pitched as a tabletop remote since it is too big to carry in your pocket. The existence of "All On" and "All Off" buttons has also been derided as useless in the age of Insteon Group commands. The "Dim" and "Bright" buttons are also redundant since you can achieve the same function simply by holding down the On or Off button of each channel. Most of us want a compact keychain-like FOB or a something like the old X10 PalmPads.

For these reasons, I'll probably wait until a more compact remote control is released or at least until the RemoteLinc has been out for six months and users have pounded on it.

Matt -- will Indigo support the new Access Points and RemoteLincs when they ship? I suspect you may be bound by nondisclosure if you've been in the RemoteLinc RF testing program. But have you heard any news of other smaller, more practical remotes in the product pipeline?
-Sugi-

Posted on
Tue May 01, 2007 11:05 pm
DPattee offline
Posts: 400
Joined: Jan 14, 2004
Location: Redmond, WA

(No subject)

Honestly I'm getting so fed up with SmartLabs that I'm really regretting my decision to go with Insteon.

I've got 4 SignalLinc RF adaptors, partially to make Insteon reliable in my two story house but also to make sure I was going to have good RF coverage once the remotes started coming out. This is a slap in the face. Refurbished? Excuse me??

And I've just had another dimmer switch go bad. Sometimes you tap it and the light just won't turn on, you have to hit it a few times. We are absolutely not rough on things - heck, I have a RadioShack branded x10 switch that I put in my garage when I realized I didn't have enough switches, I bought that like over a decade ago. I've had so many switches go bad that I seriously question SmartLabs ability to make a product, let alone come up with standards for other people's products.

Proud owner of an Indigo-based, Phlink, EvoCam, & custom app-supported super house!
http://blog.x-caiver.com , http://www.xadatechnology.com

Posted on
Wed May 02, 2007 12:12 am
sugihs offline
Posts: 28
Joined: Apr 18, 2006
Location: La Canada, CA

(No subject)

Honestly I'm getting so fed up with SmartLabs that I'm really regretting my decision to go with Insteon.

I've got 4 SignalLinc RF adaptors, partially to make Insteon reliable in my two story house but also to make sure I was going to have good RF coverage once the remotes started coming out. This is a slap in the face. Refurbished? Excuse me??


I share your frustration. I was going to purchase more SignaLinc RFs to increase my coverage in anticipation of remotes, but I held off since it was taking so darn long to release the remotes and I suspected SmartLabs was having serious problems during their testing phase. I had a sneaking suspicion the unbelievably long delay on remotes was due to poor performance which might necessitate switching frequencies or something else major. Good thing I didn't dump a whole bunch of money in more SignaLinc RFs. Sorry to hear of your dilemma.

And I've just had another dimmer switch go bad.


And I just had another KeypadLinc die yesterday. I only own two of them and I think this will be my third warranty replacement on just KPLs alone. Smarthome is always gracious and friendly in sending out warranty replacements, but I can't see how they are making money when they have to replace units this frequently. I haven't lost any SwitchLincs, but I have had to replace two ICON dimmers and a recalled ICON Appliance On/Off module.

I've had so many switches go bad and need replacing that I'm running into a serious dead link management issue with deceased Insteon device addresses stuck in memory (i.e. the only way to unlink an Insteon device is by explicitly unlinking w/ the device itself, factory resetting all devices that stored the dead address, or w/ software that has link management -- Indigo doesn't yet do link management and you can't unlink a device when it's dead.)

The embarrassing design of the RemoteLinc and the release of products no one seems to want (e.g. SocketLinc Dimmers ?!?) while ignoring the please of dedicated customers indicates problems in management. Why on earth didn't they hire a design firm to design the form factor of the RemoteLinc? Heck, even Apple hires outside design firms for some of its hardware.

However, maybe this is just normal teething problems with a promising, new technology. SmartLabs has stumbled several times with Insteon -- HouseLinc was shipped too early and extremely buggy, the product pipeline has been slow, no RF controllers for two years, high component failure rate in switches, and now the whole SignaLinc RF / Access Point snafu, but hopefully they will recover. X10 was too unreliable. Insteon signal transmission reliability is fabulous, but the component failure rate in the switches is abysmal. I've read of teething problems w/ Z-Wave and UPB as well so in my view Insteon still holds the most promise.
-Sugi-

Posted on
Wed May 02, 2007 1:47 am
DPattee offline
Posts: 400
Joined: Jan 14, 2004
Location: Redmond, WA

(No subject)

Oh, big thing I missed when I looked at the link you sent... The 'AccessPoint' does not have a pass-through connector on it! Out of the 4 locations that I current have the RF bridges and the 1 location where I was going to put another to make sure my driveway had good coverage (for a remote in the car), 2 of them require pass-through to be available, and 1 of them was in a place where it would have been nice but not required.

If Indigo supported ZWave... I've been hearing good things about it from some coworkers who didn't care about X10 back-compat.

Proud owner of an Indigo-based, Phlink, EvoCam, & custom app-supported super house!
http://blog.x-caiver.com , http://www.xadatechnology.com

Posted on
Wed May 02, 2007 5:05 pm
snowjay offline
Posts: 267
Joined: Aug 09, 2006

(No subject)

Lack of a passthrough outlet is what gets me. Sending my two old SignalLincs back to get two AccessPoints, fine I can deal with that, plus you get the remote for free. But not having the outlet is dumb, dumb, dumb.

Jason

Posted on
Wed May 02, 2007 10:44 pm
sugihs offline
Posts: 28
Joined: Apr 18, 2006
Location: La Canada, CA

(No subject)

Regarding the Access Point trade-in program, I spoke to a Smarthome tech support person today and asked how Smarthome could be offering "refurbished" Access Points when the product hasn't even shipped yet. I asked if this meant they were repackaging returned SignaLinc RFs or if they were reconditioning defective Access Points from testing. His answer was a firm "no". He indicated that the Access Points were perfectly good Access Points that had been used during the testing phase of the RemoteLinc and returned to Smarthome after the end of the test period. However, since they were used, they cannot be sold as new. So apparently the refurbished Access Points are a reasonable option for a trade-up program. I imagine there is a limited number of them available.

There is still a lot of confusion about the Access Point / SignaLinc RF snafu which I hope to clear up in the coming days:

1. Since Access Points also provide the phase bridging and Insteon command re-transmit functions of the SignaLinc RFs and costs the same (i.e. $39.99 singly and $69.99 in pairs), the Access Point appears to be a corrected version 2 of the SignaLinc RF given a new name. This also means the SignaLinc RF is pretty much obsolete, unless you need the pass-through outlet or don't need to communicate w/ RF remotes. So why is Smarthome still bundling the SignaLinc RFs with all their starter packages?

2. Can an Access Point phase bridge with a SignaLinc RF?

3. Can Access Points and SignaLinc RFs coexist in an Insteon network and communicate with each just fine, or does Smarthome recommend replacing all SignaLinc RFs with Access Points?

4. The Access Point does not have an external antenna like the SignaLinc RF. Does this imply that the Access Point has a reduced range?

5. Why was the pass-through outlet eliminated from the SignaLinc RF v2 (i.e. the Access Point)?

6. Why did the SignaLinc RF fail to perform its intended role as an RF receiver for the ControlLinc?

I'll post answers to the above questions if and when Smarthome replies. I imagine at least one Smarthome employee trolls this board. Perhaps they can answer directly?
-Sugi-

Posted on
Thu May 03, 2007 6:02 am
snowjay offline
Posts: 267
Joined: Aug 09, 2006

(No subject)

I want to know why they chose a dumb name like Access Point? Last I checked there was already an Access Point used for wireless networks. ;)

Way to confuse the consumer Smarthome!

Jason

Posted on
Thu May 03, 2007 5:57 pm
sugihs offline
Posts: 28
Joined: Apr 18, 2006
Location: La Canada, CA

(No subject)

I spoke to Smarthome tech support at length today about the Access Point trade up program. Here's what I found out:

2. Can an Access Point phase bridge with a SignaLinc RF?


Yes, as far as the tech I spoke to is aware. I was told the Smarthome tech support folks have only been given partial information about the Access Points and the upgrade program, but that a major meeting at Smarthome is imminent at which time more details will be divulged about all the questions here. Of course, I will forward the info as it is disclosed to me.

3. Can Access Points and SignaLinc RFs coexist in an Insteon network and communicate with each just fine, or does Smarthome recommend replacing all SignaLinc RFs with Access Points?


While they can co-exist, there might be an issue. During the testing phase, one of the tech support people reported a slight delay in command receipt response when using a mixed Access Point / SignaLinc combo, but this may have been caused by another problem (e.g. he may have been on a three phase circuit.)

At present, Smarthome is recommending upgrading all SignaLincs to Access Points if you need RF capability with remotes like the RemoteLinc. If you don't need RF communication, then there's no problem keeping SignaLincs in place.

4. The AccessPoint does not have an external antenna like the SignaLinc RF. Does this imply that the AccessPoint has a reduced range?


To the contrary, the new AccessPoints have a greater range than the old SignaLincs. The tech I spoke to said he was told the AccessPoints can cover an area of 3,500 sq ft as opposed to the SignaLinc's 3,000 sq ft. Though he wasn't specific on what these numbers meant, I assumed he meant this is the nominal coverage area for a pair of AccessPoints. Regardless of the fine meaning, the major point is that the AccessPoints should in no way be construed to have a reduced range simply because of the lack of an external antenna.

5. Why was the pass-through outlet eliminated from the SignaLinc RF v2 (i.e. the AccessPoint)?


The tech I spoke to did not know why the pass-through outlet was eliminated.

6. Why did the SignaLinc RF fail to perform its intended role as an RF receiver for the RemotelLinc?


He didn't know, but he did confirm that he was aware the SignaLincs had problems during testing w/ the RemoteLinc, which required development of the AccessPoint.

He also confirmed that there are only a limited number of refurbished AccessPoints available for the trade-up program. I asked what Smarthome wil do after they run out of refurbished AccessPoints. He didn't know but speculated that they may have to honor pre-orders who run out of refurbished AccessPoints with new AccessPoints, but thereafter the trade-up program will probably just end.

On the AccessPoint upgrade page here:

http://www.smarthome.com/accesspointupgrade.html

I asked for clarification about this ambiguous note:

Please Note: (1) RemoteLinc will be sent to each return address per pair of (2) SignaLincs RF's returned. If you have more than two SignaLinc RF's, you will receive an additional AccessPoint for each additional SignaLinc RF returned.


He first agreed that the statement was confusing and consulted higher ups with regard to my specific questions. I asked what I if I had 6 SignaLincs and wanted to upgrade all six? His answer was:

1. Order two refurbished Access Points through the upgrade program:

http://www.smarthome.com/2443PR.html

2. Upon receipt of the Access Points, fill out the upgrade form included in the box and send back all six SignaLincs.

3. When Smarthome receives the returned SignaLincs, you will receive a free RemoteLinc for the first two Signalincs.

4. You will receive four Access Points for the remaining four returned SignaLincs at no charge except shipping.

This sounds very generous on Smarthome's behalf. They are willing to swap out your extra SignaLincs at essentially no charge (except shipping.)

So in my mind it appears that Smarthome is making a sincere effort to compensate for an unforeseen problem that came up during testing. That's what testing is for. I'd rather have an RF that works many months late with a new RF receiver than one shipped on time that doesn't work at all or only intermittently with the old RF receiver.

And a disclaimer: I don't work for Smarthome. I am merely reporting what I was told by one tech support person. It sounds like much of this information is sketchy at this point and will be firmed up in the near future. I assume policies can and will change in the future.
-Sugi-

Posted on
Thu May 03, 2007 6:26 pm
matt (support) offline
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Location: Texas

Re: SmartLabs RemoteLinc

I'm going to stay out of this thread for the most part until the RemoteLinc and Access Points are officially released. It sounds like not everyone at Smarthome even knows all the details yet, so I doubt I can help too much.

I will say that Smarthome has a pretty good track record of doing the right thing when it comes to warranty replacements, recalls, etc. I presume the introduction of the Access Point was not an intentional scheme to try to wring more dollars from loyal customers, and it sounds like they will be making at least some attempt to get customers upgraded to what they need.

Lastly, the plan is definitely for Indigo to support the RemoteLinc. I imagine the Access Points will be transparent as far as Indigo is concerned, as the SignaLinc RFs are today.

Regards,
Matt

Posted on
Fri May 04, 2007 12:56 pm
smartlabsmike offline
Posts: 1
Joined: May 04, 2007

(No subject)

Hi Everyone - Let me see if I can clear up some of your questions and concerns regarding the RemoteLinc and Access Point upgrade program.

1. Since Access Points also provide the phase bridging and Insteon command re-transmit functions of the SignaLinc RFs and costs the same (i.e. $39.99 singly and $69.99 in pairs), the Access Point appears to be a corrected version 2 of the SignaLinc RF given a new name. This also means the SignaLinc RF is pretty much obsolete, unless you need the pass-through outlet or don't need to communicate w/ RF remotes. So why is Smarthome still bundling the SignaLinc RFs with all their starter packages?

The SignaLincs will continue to work as phase bridges as they were intended for. If you plan on adding a remote to your system then you can take part in the upgrade program.

2. Can an Access Point phase bridge with a SignaLinc RF?
Access Points can coexist with SignaLinc RFs but they do not talk to one another via RF only powerline. As part of our continued commitment to improve our products we improved the RF. You can see there is no external antenna, which was the #1 complaint about the SignaLinc RFs.

3. Can Access Points and SignaLinc RFs coexist in an Insteon network and communicate with each just fine, or does Smarthome recommend replacing all SignaLinc RFs with Access Points?
As mentioned above they can coexist. If you plan to add RF only devices we recommend you take part in the upgrade program ensuring better RF coverage and reliability.

4. The Access Point does not have an external antenna like the SignaLinc RF. Does this imply that the Access Point has a reduced range?
Quite the contrary, Access Points have better range than SignaLinc RFs. Not only did we remove the external antenna but we improved the antenna design for better performance.

5. Why was the pass-through outlet eliminated from the SignaLinc RF v2 (i.e. the Access Point)?
To maximize range on the Access Point our engineers recommended removing the pass through outlet. Since the antenna is internal having another device plugged into the Access Point could reduce range and we want the best user experience possible.

6. Why did the SignaLinc RF fail to perform its intended role as an RF receiver for the ControlLinc?
I think you meant to ask about RemoteLinc. As part of the improvements to the RF including reliability and extended range we could not make the SignaLinc RFs work in this respect so we are offering the upgrade program.

I hope this clears up your questions. We at SmartLabs Design value your feedback.

Posted on
Sat May 05, 2007 11:59 am
nsosnicki offline
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 14, 2004
Location: Boston, MA, US

(No subject)

sugihs wrote:
And I just had another KeypadLinc die yesterday. I only own two of them and I think this will be my third warranty replacement on just KPLs alone.


I am relieved that it is not just me.

http://perceptiveautomation.com/phpBB2/ ... highlight=

I loose an Insteon switch about once every 3 months, usually a KPL. It is so common, I keep spares on hand. Smarthome always replaces them, but it is still annoying.

Posted on
Sun May 06, 2007 1:49 pm
gregjsmith offline
Posts: 946
Joined: Apr 01, 2003
Location: Rio Rancho, NM

(No subject)

The upgrade program is a pain in the ass, but at least they offer it. I'm sure it a huge nightmare on Smarthome end to administer it. Hopefully this is the bottleneck that were keeping other products from coming out.

Posted on
Fri May 18, 2007 12:00 pm
polycron offline
Posts: 90
Joined: Jan 08, 2006

(No subject)

sugihs wrote:

On the AccessPoint upgrade page here:

http://www.smarthome.com/accesspointupgrade.html

I asked for clarification about this ambiguous note:

Please Note: (1) RemoteLinc will be sent to each return address per pair of (2) SignaLincs RF's returned. If you have more than two SignaLinc RF's, you will receive an additional AccessPoint for each additional SignaLinc RF returned.


He first agreed that the statement was confusing and consulted higher ups with regard to my specific questions. I asked what I if I had 6 SignaLincs and wanted to upgrade all six? His answer was:

1. Order two refurbished Access Points through the upgrade program:

http://www.smarthome.com/2443PR.html

2. Upon receipt of the Access Points, fill out the upgrade form included in the box and send back all six SignaLincs.

3. When Smarthome receives the returned SignaLincs, you will receive a free RemoteLinc for the first two Signalincs.

4. You will receive four Access Points for the remaining four returned SignaLincs at no charge except shipping.

This sounds very generous on Smarthome's behalf. They are willing to swap out your extra SignaLincs at essentially no charge (except shipping.)

So in my mind it appears that Smarthome is making a sincere effort to compensate for an unforeseen problem that came up during testing. That's what testing is for. I'd rather have an RF that works many months late with a new RF receiver than one shipped on time that doesn't work at all or only intermittently with the old RF receiver.

And a disclaimer: I don't work for Smarthome. I am merely reporting what I was told by one tech support person. It sounds like much of this information is sketchy at this point and will be firmed up in the near future. I assume policies can and will change in the future.
-Sugi-


On their website Smarthome has removed any trace of an exchange for more then 2 signalincs. Has anyone confirmed that they will still exchange our 3+ signalincs? It looks like the upgrade website has gone through 3 different changes. The first was clear about the first two but vague about the additional signalincs. The second seemed to make more sense and matched what sugihs quoted. Now the 3rd got rid of all vagueness since it only deals with the first 2 signalincs. No wonder people are cranking about this upgrade program. I have no clue what I should do. I like things in writing. (even a Smarthome rep posting on a forum.)

Posted on
Fri May 25, 2007 10:19 pm
roundy offline
Posts: 49
Joined: Jun 22, 2004

(No subject)

Just go my 2 Access points and remotelinc. I'm not too concerned about the upgrade program as I only have 2 signalincs.

Haven't done any extensive testing, but I will say that so far the RemoteLinc works pretty well. It basically acts like a portable Controlinc. Syncing is done the same way as any other Insteon controller.

No more out-of-sync keypadlinc buttons! I can just sync the buttons to the remotelinc.

roundy

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