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Author Topic: standard X10 review  (Read 19048 times)


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standard X10 review
« on: July 08, 2006, 02:20:36 AM »

After reading one of the more recent PC magazines I noticed that there was positive review for X10 automation hardware and software, so I decided to check it out.  About 5 years ago my father had purchased an X10 kit on my advice (which only consisted of previewing the website and features).  He had the kits for about 2 weeks and then returned it.  His reason was that he found out he had to purchase more hardware than was in the kit just to get it to function.

Thinking that x10 had most likely improved their interface and communications protocols in the last 5 years, and wanting to succeed where my father had failed; to better the family name, I decided to jump in.

I initially purchased the cdmXXX usb unit and a lamp module in order to reset a cable modem and router in the next room when the internet goes down.  It worked great for the task of resetting a lamp module in the neighboring bedroom.

Intrigued by the ActiveX object and a desire to script most every light in the house in order to turn off all lights before bed, I decided to expand the X10 system by purchasing 6 more light switch modules.  The package was shipped and received promptly.

The lights seemed to function when physically pressing the toggle switch that I installed on each light.  The same was not true when using the Active Home Professional software.  There seems to be no effect on my downstairs lights in my moderately sized 1,300 sq ft home.

I then tried to use the remote pad that came with the original kit.  It toggled the Active Home Interface display to show that the (previously working) module had been turned off, but it had no physical effect in actually turning the power off on the module.  Not until I dug through the FAQ on their website did I find an entry that tells you how to enable the remote by doing the following: click Tools > Hardware configuration > click Specific > click the House Code to listen on > click update.  Only after enabling that trivial setting was it able to work in response to the remote's commands that came with the package I purchased.  So,.. hitting the button on the remote toggled the view in thier software, but did not actually turn on/off the light until enabling this somewhat trivial setting. 

That was my first sign that this software package has been written poorly.  From an end user standpoint, this should work out of the box.  The fact that I had to go to a technical support site to find arbitrary settings in order to enable something that came with the kit is a little discerning.   Things like this are usually a sign of more bad to come.

Now that the remote is responding and controlling lights up stairs, why not the lights downstairs?  More reading in the FAQ informs that most houses have two 'phases' of wiring in a home.  They may not be able to communicate with each other.  In which case, you will need to have a certified electrician or authorized x10 rep install this extra ($$) hardware for you.

Well, surfice it to say, a few hundred dollars in order for me to have the convienance of not walking downstairs to turn of the lights at night, is just not worth it to me.

My overall feeling of the X10 product is that it's still first generation hardware.  (version 1.5)  Before these packages are considered serious buys by the general public, x10 will need to work on thier protocol for communication to make them more reliable and affordable.  Or, .. another company that can match these prices and improve on these shortcomings.

However, for light tasks such as Active Home Professional resetting a modem and router in the next room... this fits the bill.  Albiet, a $70 bill.

I'll be calling the technical support tommorrow and providing an update to this entry based on the outcome.

Brian H

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Re: standard X10 review
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2006, 06:38:46 AM »

X10s Powerline signaling was designed before most modern electronics where invented. So many electronic gadgets cause powerline noise or suck up the signals that could never have been anticipated. Some other powerline signaling schemes also are effected by modern electronics. So X10 is not alone on this.
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