Ever since Savant founder, Bob Madonna, returned as CEO back in September, Savant has been on a torrid pace with product releases and even discontinuations. It’s obvious that the company has a different philosophy, and seems to be on an uptick pace.
One of the products announced that I have been looking forward to is the Wally. The Wally is a family of dedicated touch screens that Savant will be releasing in different sizes. For those of you who know Savant, typically iPads and iTouch have been used in the past with proprietary mounts. While these have been fashionable and well-received, they are not really dedicated system controllers as evidenced by the slight delay in connection when you “wake up the keypad”.
I myself have an iTouch in-wall in my bathroom with a Basalte mount which is fine, but it leaves me yearning for something larger and more dedicated to the system. I often get a lot of annoying messages and pop-ups that are IOS based, which can be annoying and sometimes frustrating. Some of these messages, warnings and updates can be defeated, but often at the risk of other issues. Clients have asked for dedicated keypads as well, with reluctance to put a tablet in the wall for a variety of reasons.
When Wally was first announced I was extremely happy that Savant had finally released a dedicated in-wall controller. The initial release called for the 5.5-inch version, with the 2.9-inch and 8-inch versions to come later in the year. When the box arrived, I couldn’t wait to open it. I was surprised how small the box was, no bigger than an iPhone box. The Wally itself had a white bezel, which worked for the décor, but also comes in black. It had an extremely low profile, with a single Ethernet jack in the rear. There was also a power terminal, but at the time of release it was indicated as not being used. Programming it in Blueprint took about a minute, and you can select personalized options such as what room you want it to default to, and user criteria.
Finding a spot for the Wally was simple, as my Kitchen was the most frequent traffic area in my home. From there I could control all the video functions, music control throughout the house, I could activate scenes, adjust the lighting or temperature, and view my security cameras. Since Wally mounts into a single gang box, it offered some versatility in case I ever wanted to change it out for another size later. A single category 5 or 6 cable connected to a PoE switch utilizing the 802.3af standard and the unit instantly lit up with the familiar Savant logo. By the way, if you don’t have a POE switch you could use a PoE adapter with the same standard. The only requirement is that it needs to be on the same network as your Savant host. Setting up the keypad took all but a minute or two by answering a few questions and performing a quick update. Three minutes later, I was streaming music in my Kitchen with full control over my home and loving every minute of it.
Some people may cringe at the thought of an in-wall keypad especially in the Kitchen, where elegance is mandatory. However, the Wally fit in very nicely. Not too big, not too small, and a proximity sensor which lights up whenever you walk up to the unit keeps it low-key. However, the instant the unit lights up it is ready for a command, which is quite different from the phone and tablet experience. No more lock keys, Wi-Fi connection delays, IOS or Android messages, or backup prompts. Just pure automation.
Many people, including I, have told clients that keypads are on their way out with people attached to phones and tablets. However, the convenience, elegance, and lightning-fast response of the Wally changed my mind. I am looking forward to seeing where Savant goes from here. The specifications indicate the unit has an embedded microphone and speaker for future use, which sounds enticing. In the meantime, I think my clients will enjoy the Wally as much as I am, as well as the offerings that are coming from Savant the rest of the year.
For more information on Savant’s Wally, please visit here.