Every device, from lamps to thermostats to HVAC systems, is placed under your control from a central control with one of the home automation systems by mControl, the winner of our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award. This powerful and flexible system places every activated and enabled device in your home under your immediate control, allowing your dreams of effortless home automation to take flight. We were very impressed with the breadth of applications that the mControl v3 system made available to us, bringing both extensive feature sets and immense software and hardware compatibility to the table. In addition to the system’s innate power, it is exceptionally easy to use, boasting a clean and intuitive interface that every computer user will be able to understand. It’s also backed by a respectable amount of customer support, offering documentation in the form of an online FAQs section and an included user manual. From features to ease of use, the mControl v3 home automation systems never failed to impress us.
mControl is a line of products that is produced and maintained by Embedded Automation, a privately held company that specializes in home automation and media centers. This company got their beginnings in this burgeoning industry in 1998, when ideas of home automation and embedded control systems first began to gain ground in consumer-level applications. Since their inception, Embedded Automation has come to produce some of the highest-quality products in its targeted industry, including mControl’s v3 home automation systems.
Despite underperforming slightly in the Help & Support category, the mControl v3 home automation system won out over HomeSeer and PowerHome due largely to its extensive compatibility and ease of use. All three products scored equally in the Features category, but this product ultimately came out on top with its wider variety of compatible hardware and software as well as its simpler interface. For all of its good points, however, we would like to see mControl offer some additional customer support options like a telephone number or user tutorials.
The mControl v3 home automation system brought every feature that we looked for into play. Their system provides convenient remote access as well as the ability to program macros with several varieties of triggers. These macros can be activated manually with a remote control or a computer. Additionally, they can be set to activate automatically when certain criteria are met. This system also provides a voice recognition function that allows you to activate macros by speaking into a compatible microphone.
The home automation software included in this system supports basic triggers, the most common of which are sunset/sunrise timers and timed events. For example, you can use this software to turn off all of your compatible lights at sunset or program it to turn on the bedroom light when your alarm is scheduled to sound. These basic conditions are generally available in most home automation systems, and mControl certainly provides a wide variety of customizable triggers.
This system also allows for the construction of complex macros. A macro is a series of commands that are executed either simultaneously or at specified intervals. In mControl’s editor, you can create a macro that activates once a series of criteria are met. You can also create a macro with several commands that will fire at the same time, like a command that will turn on the lights when you pull in the driveway, activate the radio and heat up the fireplace. The possibilities for home automation are limited only by your selection of compatible devices and your imagination.
Other features that this software provides include randomized actions and voice recognition capabilities. The voice recognition ability allows you to program a variety of devices to respond to a vocal command. Of course, a nearby microphone will be required to utilize this feature.
In addition to the customizable macros, mControl v3 is sold in modules, so you can customize your system even more to fit your needs. The Base Module is an absolute requirement to run mControl v3, but all the other modules, such as the Energy Management, Media Control or Professional, are optional.
The software in the mControl v3 home automation systems is compatible with several popular media management applications, including Windows Media Center and iTunes. This ability allows the user to program macros involving specific songs or movies. If you’re using Windows Media Center, for example, you can program a macro to turn on your TV, boot up the computer and begin streaming a movie through your network with the push of a single button.
mControl provides mobile applications for the iPhone, iPad and smartphones that utilize the Windows Mobile operating system. The ultra-compact interface is clean and functional, giving you instant access to all of your connected devices from any location. With this remote connection, you can conserve energy by ensuring that your lights are off whenever you’re away or satisfy security paranoia by knowing whether your garage door is closed or not at any time.
The three main module technologies used by these systems—X10, INSTEON and Z-wave, are all supported by the mControl v3 home automation systems. Essentially, this means that almost any appliance or device control model that you purchase will work with this system. There are also built-in controls for compatible thermostats and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and cooling) systems. We were very impressed with the extensive flexibility of the mControl v3 system.
The interface of the mControl v3 home automation software is very clean and intuitive. The various functions are laid out in an easily understandable fashion, with tabs to organize specific commands and abilities. The macros are easy to program, with several preset triggers available for instant use. Many functions and attributes are already present when you upload a specific type of device. For example, as soon as you add a light module to the system, you can control the brightness and turn it on or off without doing anything beyond adding the device.
The remote access capabilities greatly enhance the convenience and ease of use of these home automation systems. The control panel can be accessed locally through a computer or another device like a touchscreen, or it can be accessed through a standard internet browser like Internet Explorer. There are some difficulties when trying to access this program through browsers on smartphones, however, so the usability is slightly limited in this sense.
This is the only category that we felt mControl v3 performed poorly in. They do not offer some of the more useful options like tutorials and telephone support. A basic video tutorial is very helpful with these home automation systems, as there are several things that you must learn to use before it can be fully implemented in a home. The learning curve is quite steep, so community features like interactive forums are near invaluable.
Despite its lack of features in this area, these home automation systems do offer several of the basic options like email support, a user manual and online forums and an FAQs section. In addition to these features, there is also a live chat option that will put you in contact with a customer service representative instantly.
Overall, we were quite pleased with the mControl v3 home automation system. They provided plenty of useful features that could be implemented with a wide variety of applications and devices. The software is very clean and easy to use, with native iOS support and several additional time-saving additions like mobile applications and remote access. We were a little disappointed with the system’s customer support backing, but overall the system performed admirably. This should be your first stop in the search for home automation software.
mControl has a powerful feature set, great compatibility and is very easy to use.
This system could use a wider set of customer service options.
There's a reason this is our top home automation system pick; you will find everything you need in this system.