Product Review (February 2010)
RTI Remote Technologies Inc.
K4 In-Wall Universal Controller

By Kevin Nakano


RTI K4 In-Wall ControllerRTI Corporation offers a wide range of custom controllers for users that demand high performance. Their products are sold exclusively through a network of trained dealers and system integrators to ensure customers get exactly what they need for their complex A/V systems. In addition to their full line of handheld controllers, RTI also offers several in-wall controllers designed to complement their popular handheld models with aesthetically pleasing looks and powerful functionality in a single unit. This review will cover RTI's flagship K4 In-Wall Controller that features a color TFT LCD touchpanel for flush-mount installations in walls or cabinets. The K4 includes a 6.4-inch full VGA resolution (640x480) panel, a powerful 400MHz 32-bit processor, 32MB of memory, stereo speakers, and an infrared receiver. The K4 is the first standalone touchpanel with infrared control, video monitoring, and Ethernet connectivity. It provides a self-contained system for controlling audio/video components, lights, or other electronic systems in the home without the need of a separate remote processor. The K4 can also stream MJPEG video from cameras and control advanced products such as the Escient Fireball media servers through its ethernet interface.


RTI K4 In-Wall ControllerCover Off
The K4 In-Wall Controller has an easily removable front bezel for quick access. The controller screen has fully customizable buttons with no dedicated buttons occupying space on the front. This gives the K4 a very clean and uncluttered look. Beneath the front bezel is a pair of built-in speakers that provide audible feedback to the user. There is also a standard USB connector for programming the unit. Just above the USB connector is a recessed button that is used to reset the controller. This button can also be used to put the K4 into the setup mode, in which the unit can be configured using the Control Panels (discussed below). The top middle of the unit has the light sensor and IR receiver.


Interfaces
The top of the K4 is where all of the connections are made. This is great since the cabling will likely come from above the unit in the wall. There are four BNC connections that accept four composite signals or two s-video connections. If s-video signals are used, the color and luminance signals go to separate BNC connections. BNC connectors are robust and the best for professional installations. Two RJ-45 interfaces are provided with one being a standard ethernet connection and the other being a special Control Port with power and communication interfaces. We used these connections for our testing.

A removable terminal block is also available for manually wiring the power and IR data interfaces. Up to 350-feet of standard CAT5 cable can be used to power the unit as long as a dedicated pair of wires are used to carry V+ and Ground separately. This terminal block also has interfaces for Power Status (0-20VDC), Aux Status (0-20V), Relay Control (Vsupply at 100mA max), and Trigger Out (Vsupply at 100mA max).


Installation
The K4 In-Wall is simple to install and requires an opening approximately 8.25" x 5.5". We cut through the drywall in our theater room and placed the opening just below eye-level for optimal viewing. RTI suggests placing the unit 54" to 60" from the floor to the bottom of the K4. The cavity in the wall behind the controller must be unobstructed to allow for the body of the K4, which extends just over 2-inches. RTI provides a cut-out template to help during the installation. The top of the K4 must be placed in the wall first to clear the cabling. Once in place, the bottom of the unit slides inside. Two built-in screws automatically flip out a pair of mounting wings that firmly pull and attach the unit to the drywall. The K4 can also be held in place by mounting screws through the front bezel, but this makes it more permanent and difficult to remove. Once this unit is installed in the wall, there is really no reason to have to remove it unless you plan to add cables to the camera inputs. A smart installer will pre-wire all of the camera inputs for future growth. The front bezel (available in White, Almond, Ivory, Silver and Black) uses six evenly spaced magnets that attach to the K4 housing. This makes it easy to remove and re-attach the bezel if needed.


K4 Control Panels
Similar to RTI's T4 Controller, the K4 Controller has a series of Control Panels that can be accessed by pressing and holding the touchscreen while pressing the reset button. The following images are the control panels used to configure many of the settings within the K4. Each of the parameters can be defined by the installer to suit the needs of the customer.

Control PanelBrowser
BacklightBacklight
Time OutsClock
IR ReceiverSound
Calibrate Screen Video
Network 

RTI Corp - MRP64 ControllerMRP-64
The K4 In-Wall Controller is designed to work with simple connecting blocks such as the Niles MSU250 or with control blocks such as the CBP-1. The CBP-1 is a control block that provides power to the K4 as well as an easy way to connect IR transmitters. This allows for a clean installation with a single RJ-45 connection between the two units. However, the K4 can really unleash its capabilities with a more sophisticated remote processor such as the MRP-64. The MRP-64 provides much more functionality than a simple control block. This Multi-Room Control Processor provides an interface between today’s multi-zone audio/video receivers and an wide range of RTI's in-wall and handheld controllers. Installers can give their customers full control of their system in a multi-zone configuration expanding the entertainment system beyond the media room. The MRP-64 allows all of the audio/video sources from the media room to be accessed anywhere in the home with the simple touch of a button.

The MRP-64 supports up to six in-wall controllers, four independent IR output ports, three voltage trigger outputs, three voltage sense inputs and an IR signal input. The unit supports the ZM-24 Zigbee 2.4GHz Module for full two-way wireless communication with the newer handheld controllers. In addition, the IR signal input can come from an IR receiver or an RM-433 RF Antenna Module, making it compatible with with all RTI in-wall and handheld controllers as well as industry standard IR repeater systems. The two bi-directional RS-232 ports require no special programming since the drivers are preprogrammed and developed as part of RTI’s Integration Partner Program. The unit is powered by a high-efficiency universal (100-240VAC, 50/60 Hz) power adapter capable of producing 12V at 5 amps.


RTI - Integration DesignerProgramming Software
Programming the K4 is made easy with RTI's Integration Designer™ software. This powerful Windows application is designed to work with the entire RTI product line including the remote controllers, in-wall controllers, processors, and IR reader. The latest Integration Designer™ (version 7.1 ) also supports the new ZRP-6 and MRP-64 control processors and PCM-8 port control module, as well as firmware version 2.1 for the XP-8, T2-C, T3-V, T4, RK3 and K4. Integration Designer™ works with 64-bit Vista machines such as our Pavilion dv7 HP laptop. Earlier versions had some issues with 64-bit Windows.

The latest version of Integration Designer™ is excellent and as easy to use as earlier versions of the software. Integration Designer™ gives installers complete control and flexibility in the design of the controller screens and command functions enabling the user to fully customize the look and feel of the controller. RTI has a rich set of bitmaps in their library with several professionally designed GUI’s and a number of predefined button shapes. In addition, a set of editing tools are provided for creating custom graphics for the display. Infrared codes can be added to any button by a simple drag-and-drop process. The Macro Editor provides a simple interface that allows any button in the system to launch a series of complex multi-step actions with programmable delay times. Periodic firmware and software updates are available to installers to support new features and product releases.

The software keeps a list of the last set of remotes codes used at the top of the queue when selecting a new remote from the database. This makes it convenient for the installer to recall the most commonly used remotes that have been recently accessed. Installers can build a rich library for their favorite controllers making it easy to build on existing systems that they have already designed and invested in.

RTI - Integration Designer UpdateUpdating Devices
Integration Designer™ has a simple way to update the controllers and processors defined in the System Workplace. The software automatically keeps track of the current state of the devices and will determine if any updates are necessary. Updating can be performed through the USB interface. However, if the device has ethernet capability, the installer can perform the update using the fixed IP address or the MAC address that shows up in the Update Device screen. The ethernet options are very convenient and do not require the installer to gain physical access to controller or processor. This can be particularly useful at sites that have many controllers installed in various locations in the house. Update times vary depending on the amount of data to be transferred. In virtually all cases, data is transferred in a matter of 10-20 seconds.


Security CameraConclusion
The RTI K4 In-Wall Controller is a powerful addition to any high-end entertainment system. When combined with an advanced multi-room remote processor such as the MRP-64, the potential of this controller and system can be realized to the fullest. Two-way communication is possible with ethernet, Zigbee wireless and RS-232 interfaces. The reliability of the RTI hardware and software has been excellent over the years. We have a single button that starts our system up and another button that shuts it all down, making our theater room highly automated. Hundreds of controls for all of the components in our system are fully accessible through the K4 controller. We also have our security cameras and ethernet connected for full internet access of weather updates and the latest news.

Programming the K4 In-Wall Controller and MRP-64 Multi-room Remote Processor is made simple with RTI's powerful Integration Designer™ software. The software is so intuitive and stable that little training is needed to get up and running. RTI even offers online videos to help installers get started for the first time. We have been using this software for many years and in all that time the program has never crashed on us.

RTI offers many options to enhance the system's capability and these are available based on those who need it. The best part is that the system can expand in time as needed by the user. Installers will become addicted to the user-friendly Integration Designer™ software which allows them the flexibility they need to create powerful and complex systems completely customizable for each and every client. The best part is the time invested into the IR database and custom screens can be used for other customers. I am always finding ways to improve our system even while this review is being written.

The K4 In-Wall Controller is by far the best we have seen from RTI and it is not surprising that they have executed it so well. They have a good track record and their products have always worked as advertised. We have reviewed many of their controllers and remote processors over the years and we continue to be impressed with the features and performance that the new products have to offer. If you are considering a multi-controller (hand-held and/or in-wall controllers) system that is fully integrated, you should definitely talk to your local RTI dealer. You will not be disappointed.

- Kevin Nakano







OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Projector: Anthem LTX-500v 1080p D-ILA Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
A/V Receiver: Denon AVR-5308CI THX-Ultra2 A/V Receiver
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Thermal Management: Active Thermal Management Cool-it II Equipment Cooler
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Dish Network ViP722 HDTV Satellite and Terrestrial Receiver with HDMI
HD-DVD Player: Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD Player with HDMI
DVI Cable: AudioQuest DV-1 20m DVI-D Cable
HDMI Cables: VizionWare Hi-Wirez 20-meter, Accell 45-meter UltraRun HDMI Cable
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables


Review - At a Glance

RTI - K4 In-Wall Controller

Key Features

  • Stylish low-profile faceplate with magnetic attachment.
  • Integrated mounting wings for easy installation.
  • Full color TFT LCD to display custom buttons, text, graphics, animations,
    and video.
  • Display composite or S-video either full screen or in an adjustable size
    window.
  • Integrated 10/100Base-T Ethernet port.
  • Adjustable backlight brightness.
  • Light sensor for automatic backlight level.
  • Stereo speakers for custom sound effects.
  • Plasma friendly infrared receiver for command pass-through.
  • IR output port drives up to 1,000 feet of wire.
  • Two power status input ports.
  • Completely customizable, programmable, and upgradable.
  • Optional ‘Voltage’ and ‘Video’ sensing modules.
  • Optional interface for RS-232 controlled equipment.
  • Non-volatile Flash memory stores your program even when power is
    lost.
  • Field upgradable firmware.
  • USB and Ethernet programming.


Specifications
Power 16 VDC, 1 Amp max
Power Management Adjustable backlight brightness/power down time
Touchscreen DisplayHigh-brightness color TFT LCD
Full VGA (640x480 pixels) with 65K colors
300:1 contrast ratio
Integrated high-resolution touchscreen
Display Size6.4 in (162mm) diagonal
Display Backlight Dual CCFL, 300nit (Display)
Infrared Output Port

200mA Output
Drives up to 1000 feet
(300 meters) of wire

Ethernet Port 10/100Base-T
Operating Temperature+32°F to +122°F (0°C to +50°C)
Operating Humidity5% to 95% Non-condensing
Total System Memory32M Bytes Flash (non-volatile) memory
Device CapabilityTotal number of devices is limited only by memory
Macro CapabilityUnlimited steps in a single macro
Total number of macros is limited only by memory
Macro capability on every button
CommunicationsUSB programming port
Video Input 4 Composite or 2 S-Video
BNC Connectors
NTSC or PAL compatible
Enclosure Form steel, black powder coating
Front Plate High-impact molded ABS plastic, white
Mounting Integrated mounting wings or screws through front bezel
Installation Cut-Out (W x H) 8.25-inches (210 mm) x 5.5-inches (140 mm)
Total Depth in Wall 2.25-inches (57 mm)
Weight 2.6 lbs (1.18 kg)
Warranty One Year (Parts & Labor)
MSRP$2499

K4 Brochure (PDF, 1.71M)


Company Information
RTI Corporate Headquarters
7651 Anagram Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Phone: 952-253-3100
Fax: 952-253-3131

URL: www.rticorp.com




Any comments or questions regarding the LAAF Web Site should be forwarded to webmaster@laaudiofile.com

Copyright © 1985-2010 L.A. Audio File.