Along with that comes firmware updates, new (better) licensing plans, Sonos integration, native streaming media from Autonomic and vast improvements to the user interface that might have become too oversimplified in the last revision.
Savant 8.0 software includes an enhanced user interface for the Savant App.
The company had moved to a dramatically new user experience in 2014 with the single-App home, allowing consumers to configure their own scenes, schedules and alerts.
The UI hierarchy put users first, rooms and scenes second and products third.
While the simplified UI might have been more inviting to consumers, it did require a few too many button presses to drill down into products – for example, viewing the status of all the window coverings throughout the house.
Savant ‘flattened’ out the interface so users can, “see everything in the house from the home screen,” says Tim McInerney, director of product marketing for Savant.
For example, from the home screen you might press the bulb icon to see all lights in the home, or press and hold to access the lighting menu.
When users do get to the ‘room’ pages, an overlay shows the devices in the room and enables one-touch access to any of them.
From the Dining Room page, for example, click on the Apple TV icon to operate that device in that room.
Here’s more good news for 8.0: You get a lot more stuff for each Savant Smart Host license.
Tim says about 90% of the ‘premium’ provisions are now provided in the basic Savant service – up to eight rooms of entertainment, plus four rooms of environmental control (12 total), one stream of Savant Music, 64 lighting loads, third-party AV switching for three zones or less, eight cameras, BacNET and KNX … pretty much everything except for more rooms and more complicated video switching.
Sonos Integration and Native Autonomic
Savant now has a Sonos driver and even worked with Sonos to build it.
While Sonos has yet to release an API per se, the company has been working with home-control vendors over the past few months to encourage proper integration.
Tim says: “They’ve given us access to their engineering team and vice versa. We share our software with them. It’s more of a two-way-communication type of partnership. If we’re having issues, we have help.”
And Savant, like other Sonos ‘partners,’ shouldn’t be caught unawares by engineering changes from Sonos.
Tim characterises Sonos as an ‘Elite Partner,’ but says it gets no particularly special favors from the company, despite having a common investor, KKR.
Even bigger news
The Savant Smart Host with 8.0 will double as an Autonomic media player.
Savant already integrated two-way with Autonomic’s Mirage Media Servers, but now a modified version of the MMS software is built into the Savant hardware.
Users can now tap into music from all of Autonomic’s streaming media partners including Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Pandora, SiriusXM, Rhapsody, Slacker, Napster, Tunein and iTunes.
Music is output through the TOSlink port on the Smart Host, which previously had not been utilised.
Savant 4K Video Distribution
Savant was all set to add 4K cards to its video-distribution product, but it was right before HDCP 2.2 was coming out and the company decided to hold off until it had a compliant product.
The new Savant 4K (30 Hz) Video Input Module will be available in May (preorder April 5), and it does support HDCP 2.2.
It also provides audio down-mixing as well as video down-converting for 1080p displays.
Additionally, Savant partnered with PureLink, maker of high-performance commercial-grade video switchers, to offer new video switchers for the residential market.
Unlike PureLink’s commercial products, the 4K/60 Savant versions support HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 to pass through copy-protected content. They come in two versions, 4×4 and 8×8, and include SmartHost Premium licenses.
Tim says Savant tested several video switches, including many of the usual suspects in the residential custom market, but PureLink won out.
Savant appreciated the level of testing that goes into every single PureLink switch.
“They’re in all these regulated government and military institutions,” Tim says. “We’re ridiculously critical of every component.”
PureLink HDBaseT 4K extenders will follow.
And More …
• Savant will be coming out with the Smart Control2 RS-232 module, controllable via Wi-Fi like other Smart Control modules (IR, relay).
• A big improvement to Savant’s Blueprint configuration software: Dealers can now preview the Savant App UI from within Blueprint itself, without having to upload the config file to the Host – in fact, without even having a Host plugged in. Modifications can be viewed on the fly.
• Siedle, maker of video intercom and access control systems for multi-dwelling units, is now supported by Savant.
Note there are differences between US and European details
More Savant Sources