Which is better, Savant or Control4? Oh man! This question is always a challenge — and one we get asked a lot.
The trouble is that both systems are great Smart Home Platforms. I once heard a dealer describe it like choosing between one of his two children. That’s a pretty good analogy.
Savant and Control4 have different strengths that make them both attractive for different applications. Ideally, you would find a place to experience them both. But since you’re here, I’ll try and give you my honest thoughts about both systems.
When we’re working with a Client to try and determine the best fit, there’s four things we look at: 3rd party Integration; Application; User Experience; and Budget. We’ll take a quick look at all four here.
3rd Party Integration
As of this writing, Control4 integrates better with the popular DIY products like Nest Thermostat, MyQ Garage Door opener, Amazon Alexa, etc. In this area, Savant is improving, but Control4 definitely has the upper hand. For other products like your Home Audio, your TVs, your Lighting Control, etc, both Savant and Control4 integrate well.
Here’s a little history for you. A few years ago both companies released major updates. Savant’s update was user experience driven. They released a cleaner, sexier app, with a cool new user interface. Control4 focused on improving the ‘backend’ (the programming behind the scenes that’s doing all the work) so that Control4 was set up better than any one else for 3rd party integration.
Needless to say, Control4 has been the better system for 3rd party integration with popular DIY products in the last two years, but Savant is on its way.
What’s the application? I know that sounds obvious, but the answer is significant.
- Builders – Are you a Production Home Builder? Right now we favor Control4. A lot of our production builders already offer devices like Nest Thermostat, or MyQ Garage Door Openers. With Control4, you don’t have to add or replace anything. For $500 you can purchase a Control4 system that will easily integrate with all those smart devices you’re already offering in the home.
- Retro Fits & Wireless Installs – Do you already live in a home, and the home wasn’t prewired? Control4 is a great solution for wireless installs. We can do an entire home wirelessly with Control4, and it will feel like the home was prewired and designed from the ground up.
- Home Audio & Video – If your major focus with your Smart Home is your Home Audio and Video, then I favor Savant. I’ve always preferred the user experience wth Savant for these features. With their latest App release, they use a ‘heads up display’ similar to Apple’s remote for the Apple TV. It makes it very easy to use your phone to control the TV and media.
- Home Security, Lighting & Climate – If your hot button is Security, Lighting & Climate Control it’s a wash. Control4 integrates with door locks, and Savant doesn’t – at least not easily. Otherwise it’s sixes. Both have compatible Video Doorbells, Cameras, Security Systems, and hoards of compatible lighting control and blind solutions.
- Business – Are you looking to outfit a conference room, a restaurant, or maybe a Gym? I’d probably favor Savant. Again I favor it’s performance with Audio and Video, so it seems like the better fit in these applications.
The user experience may be the most important part of the whole deal, and this is where the answer is very personal. Here’s my opinion on both.
- Control4 – Control4 is easier to use initially. The app uses icons in a way that holds your hand through the process. Because Control4 is so simple to use, we often recommend it for Clients who are scared of technology. However, I think Control4’s app is a little tedious. You have to drill down into everything, and then back out to the home page to change gears. I’ve always wished it was more fluid.
- Savant – Savant’s app is sexier looking. If you want to show off your Smart Home app to your friends, Savant is superior. I prefer the user experience for TV Control with Savant’s ‘Heads up Display’ feature. I think Savant is easy to use, but I’ve seen Clients take a few minutes to get use to it. Savant’s app is more fluid. There’s less drilling down, and drilling out, but some of what makes the app fluid and sexy, also makes it bloated. It’s room based. So on the iPhone, if you have 20 rooms in your home, you have to scroll through all 20 rooms to find the room you want.
- Remotes – Both Control4 and Savant offer a handheld remote. Control4’s remote is great if you have onscreen display, which allows you to see the App on your TV. Without the onscreen display, the remote is just ok. Savant’s remote is one of the sexier remotes I’ve seen, and includes a touchscreen and voice control. It’s new, and has promise, but it still needs some work.
Both systems support iOS and Android. So whatever your preference is, it will work.
We’ll cover cost in another post, but Control4 is usually cheaper than Savant. If the budget is the determining factor, Control4 usually wins. This is especially true with Production Home Builders.
Clients always ask me which system I would put in my own home. I would be really happy with either system, but If I had to choose, I would use Savant. My favorite part of the system is the Audio/Video control, and here I prefer Savant. If my preference were to Lighting Control, Climate Control and heavy automation, I would go with Control4. Regardless, I would have a lot of fun with either system.
My point here is that it’s personal. Say what you want about budgets, applications, and the nitty gritty of each app, at the end of the day the better system is the one that you get excited about. Both systems perform well, and you’ll be happy either way.
Matt is a co-founder and lead systems designer for TYM LLC. His smart home and audio/visual designs have won three “Home of the Year Awards” from Electronic House & CE Pro magazine, and two awards from the Consumer Technology Association, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year".
Matt is a golden State fan.