One thing that has always set apart high-end control systems from the average remote control is the ability to interact with automation systems to control more than just A/V components. After all, the goal of a “real” universal remote should be that once you settle down in your La-Z-Boy recliner you should never need to get up. This level of integration is what makes the Square Connect SQ Blaster with SQ Remote App for the iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad more than just an average remote control. The Square Connect SQ Blaster integrates seamlessly with the MiCasaVerde Vera 2 Z-wave home automation system for lighting control and home automation right from your Apple device. We reviewed the SquareConnect SQ Blaster AV control capabilities just a short while ago – now we will focus on the home automation capabilities.
Z-wave is an affordable home lighting and automation technology that may be easily installed by a homeowner with some technical knowledge and patience. You do not need to have home automation or computer programming experience to get most Z-wave networks set-up. In fact, one of the first home automation systems I installed myself included more than two-dozen Z-wave switches and I am still using most of that system in my own home today. I started with the Monster Central AVL300 remote and then upgraded to the Universal Electronics Nevo S70 and then to the SQ Remote on an iPad. I have been very happy with the evolution of my control system over the years and now that the Monster AVL300 is being closed-out and the UEI Nevo remotes have been discontinued, I’m sure many of you will also be looking for a new controller in the near future. Fortunately, the SQ Blaster may be just what you need and the price will surely surprise you.
I first bought the Monster AVL300 for $499 and took advantage of its basic Z-wave lighting control capabilities. I eventually upgraded to the UEI Nevo S70 for the ultimate, customizable touchscreen remote and advanced home automation capabilities but that investment cost more than $1,200 and, unfortunately, has also been recently discontinued. The Square Connect SQ Blaster arrived on the market at a perfect time – and at a very reasonable price. The combination of the SQ Blaster Bundle with the Vera 2 Home Automation Processor is just over $400 and when you add it to an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad you end up with a lot more than just basic home control. The MiCasaVerde Vera 2 is the industry standard for Z-wave control and is by far the most universal processor available today. The Square Connect can easily access the Vera for lighting control and more right from the remote app itself.
Once you have set-up the Vera 2 and your Z-wave network with the included Mios software, it is very easy to access that network from the SQ Remote App. Just go into the SQ Remote Set-up > Mios Systems > and log in with the same credentials you just specified at Mios.com > then Connect.
Now you can go into any SQ Remote Control Pad and populate any of the tabs with the lighting controls you desire. Just select ADD CONTROLS > MiOS (Vera) Controls > and select from:
Window Cover Controls
You may also choose from a large list of Status Labels so you may take advantage of the two-way communications that the Z-wave protocol offers to monitor things like the temperature in another room, the status of a motion sensor or smoke detector and much more. As you might guess, the possibilities are endless.
SQ Remote is an incredibly customizable and flexible program so your Z-wave devices may be added to any control pad and on any screen. You may also add a “Scene” to any Macro. For example, this is what happens when I press the Watch Movie button on my SQ Remote:
TV Power On
TV HDMI 1
AV Receiver Power On
AV Receiver Source Blu-ray
Sony Playstation 3 Power On (via RE-BL X IR to Bluetooth converter)
Vera Scene “Watch Movie” which shuts all lights in the viewing area
This is obviously a very simple Macro but is a common one that may be used in most homes without a lot of effort. Of course, once you start programming basic scenes like this you will probably start dreaming up some other scenes that match your habits. The possibilities are endless.
As mentioned, the Vera 2 home automation gateway is the industry standard in Z-wave systems so, when the SQ Remote App is accessing that network and the Mios Dashboard it too becomes a very sophisticated home controller.
We have tested the SQ Remote App on an iPod Touch 3rd Generation, an iPod Tocuh 4th Generation, an iPhone 4, and both the iPad 1 and iPad 2 and the performance was consistently fast and reliable with them all. Obviously the newer devices opened the SQ Remote App faster but, in all cases, once the App was open, the lighting controls and scene controls that we programmed were ready to respond. In fact the response time was considerably faster when we sent a lighting command from the SQ Remote App than when it was sent from the Mios Dashboard accessed from the Safari browser on the same device. I was pleasantly surprised by that result.
The SQ Blaster with SQ Remote App is an excellent solution for turning your Apple iOS device into a universal remote control that is better than most Logitech Harmony remotes and rivals the capabilities of a Philips Pronto. Now that other z-wave options like the Logitech Harmony 890, the Monster Central remotes and the UEI Nevo have all been discontinued the SQ Remote is an excellent way to protect the investment you’ve made into home automation – or get started at an affordable price.
Don’t forget that this review covers the home automation capabilities of the Square Connect SQ Blaster with SQ Remote App but if you want to learn more about the A/V control capability and the SQ Remote itself please click here to read Remote Shoppe’s first review.
The SQ Blaster is currently available at Remoteshoppe.com.