The Radio Shack house. (Automatic House Companion software) (Evaluation)
by Jill Champion
With crime statistics soaring in even the sleepiest all-American towns, home security is much on people's minds. And what better tool to keep your home secure than your PC? What's more, buying the necessary software is now as easy as visiting your local Radio Shack store.
Radio Shack has simplified home security with its Automatic House Companion software, which is designed for home PC users to set and control home lights, appliances, and security devices.
The software includes Radio Shack's Plug 'n Power computer interface, which works with individual Plug 'n Power remote modules, wireless devices like motion detectors, door sensors, window sensors, and appliance controls that physically carry out instructions from the software. Automatic House Companion can be programmed to control up to 128 separate timer events for up to 256 modules.
The program runs on any Tandy or DOS-compatible PC and requires DeskMate version 3.0 or higher. DeskMate, Tandy's graphical interface for PCs, guides the user through the three main functions of the Automatic House Companion softrware: Floor Plan, Routine Maker, and Schedule Manager.
Floor Plan allows you to create an onscreen floor plan of your house on which you position icons representing electrical devices in various rooms. Each icon and its corresponding remote module is assigned a combination letter and number code.
Routine Maker allows you to group together events you want to occur on a daily basis--for example, turning on the lights and the television set in the den before you arrive home from work in the evenings, along with the garage light and the front-door light.
Schedule Manager schedules days, times, and actions for individual devices or for routines set up with Routine Maker. Schedule Manager also features a security mode that varies on-off times by as much as 30 minutes--on a random basis--to make your home appear occupied at all times.
One very convenient feature of the Plug 'n Power interface is that once it has been programmed, you can detach it from your computer and operate it independently, freeing your PC for other tasks.
The Automatic House Companion application software (which comes packaged with the Plug 'n Power computer interface) is available through Radio Shack's Consumer Mail Center for $69.99. Plug 'n Power remote modules can also be purchased through the Center. You can order these and any other items available from the Consumer Mail Center through your local Radio Shack store.