Home Technology Access Test: Video Door Entry Systems

Access Test: Video Door Entry Systems

by Benchmark

Access control is a cornerstone of many modern integrated security solutions. The technology allows individuals with a predefined credential (such as a card, token, code or biometric element) to gain access and egress to a protected area. The benefits of this technology include real-time status reports of a site’s occupancy, logging of movements around the site, tracking of authorised and non-authorised entry attempts, alongside additional peripheral benefits such as muster reporting and payroll management. However, one vital element is dealing with visitors and contractors. A well established tool for this purpose is video door entry. Benchmark looks at some of the leading options.

For most commercial applications, access control is a necessary element of site management. The ability to control who goes where and when has many benefits, especially where employers have a duty of care towards their staff. However, as systems become increasingly smart, the capture and management of real-time data relating to access, egress and occupancy offers a variety of additional benefits. Emerging technologies have ensured that access control is now a tool to deliver significantly more than simply controlling who may enter and leave a site.

To realise many of the additional benefits of access control, it is important that individuals are uniquely identified, and modern credentials allow that data to be more accurate. As a result, modern access control solutions require users to be registered with the system to exploit the full potential on offer. This increasingly highlights the need for effective and reliable visitor management.

Whilst there are a number of options when considering visitor management, electronic solutions are the most cost-effective, and as many businesses – especially those in shared facilities – move away from receptionists or manned concierge desks, they are increasingly the main credible choice for use in integrated solutions.

When considering the options for door entry systems, the audio-only choice has largely been relegated to applications with minimal risk where the lowest cost is of paramount importance. More akin to intercoms than security solutions, the use of audio-only devices has restrictions that many end users won’t accept.

As with almost every element of modern communications, video is the order of the day, and rightly so. The additional information that video supplies ensures that users have a better level of protection, and are able to make access decisions based upon all appropriate information.

While the video door entry system has been around for many years, economies of scale relating to camera modules, plus a rise in the availability of LED illuminators, have made these units cost-effective whilst also offering higher levels of performance. Developments include network connectivity, enhanced communications and higher quality audio.

When considering video door entry solutions, the most important elements are video and audio quality. If an end user cannot see who is at the door, or struggles to communicate with the visitor, then the system will not deliver the performance they expect. As such, any system that falls down on these two points is simply not going to be acceptable as a credible option for installers and integrators.

Another important aspect is how easy to install – and to use – the system is. Ever competitive forces have seen the prices of these solutions driven downwards, although often the quality of many low-cost kits is poor. However, the availability of devices with low pricing does influence some end users, and this puts pressure on installers and integrators to use professional quality equipment that delivers additional benefits and has a markedly higher quality.

Another important consideration is aesthetics. With many businesses making significant investments in décor, it stands to reason that they will want the first contact with their company to create the right impression. A video door entry system might be the first contact that a visitor has with the business or organisation.

The systems tested were expected to work around the clock, and were installed on a single door entrance. At night, ambient illumination was from a low wattage courtesy lamp.

Aiphone JPS-4AEDV

The JPS-4AEDV is a video door entry kit based upon the JP series of products. The kit is made up of the JP-4MED hands-free colour video master station, the JP-DV video door station and the PS-2420UL power supply unit. The kit is suitable for a single door application; however it can be expanded to support up to four video door stations and eight hands-free master stations.

The JPS-4AEDV follows the traditional model for video door entry, and as such will suit applications were a standalone system is required for visitor and contractor management. With regard to aesthetics, the external call points are immediately recognisable, while the master stations have a sleek finish due to the fact that all but one button (to switch the monitor on) are accessed via the touchscreen.

The JP-DV video door station uses a colour camera with 1/4 inch CMOS sensor, and has a stated resolution of 525 lines. Minimum illumination is quoted as 5 lux with a distance of 50cm. The viewing angle of the camera is 170 degrees (horizontal) and 100 degrees (vertical).

The door station features a PTZ function, and includes white light LED illuminators for use during low light conditions. There are three styles of door station available; the JP-DV unit is surface mount and is manufactured from die-cast aluminium. It also features security screws and is billed as vandal resistant.

The door station offers two-way hands-free voice communication with the master station, which is a JP-4MED unit. This features a 7 inch touchscreen display. The unit can be used in hands-free mode, or where privacy is an issue the included handset can be used. The colour LCD screen can be adjusted for brightness.

The master unit supplies power to the door entry panel. It also provides connection for door release. This ensures the lock controls are retained on the secure side of the system. The master unit support up to 2 doors, and the addition of an expanded can take this up to 4 doors. There is also an output to control a peripheral device such as a courtesy light, gate automate or other switchable equipment.

The JP-4MED supports the use of an SD card to store calls if the user is not available. The system can record up to 20 calls to its own internal memory, and this number is increased to 1,000 calls with the addition of the memory card.

The PSU is a rail mounted item and delivers 24V DC. Installation distance between the door station and the master unit is up to 100 metres. The installation can use either direct or daisy chain wiring. The link to the door stations is two-wire and is via screw terminals on the door station and push fit connectors on the master unit.

The master unit makes use of seven pairs of push fit connectors. These are protected by a removable cover and are clearly marked. One thing you will appreciate if you have older eyes is that the connector pairs are alternately coloured blue or white. It’s a small point but one which will be welcomed by anybody with tired eyes.

Along with the power input connection, there is also a 12 pin connector slot for options. Connectors with fly leads are supplied with the kit. The units also come with printed manuals for installation and operation. It is fair to say there with regards to installation, the JPS-4AEDV is certainly installer-friendly. This goes as far as including RJ45 sockets to simplify connection of multiple units, with the proviso that the connections are in accordance with EIA 568A or 568B.

Once in operation, an SD card can be inserted into the master station. There is a small flap on the lower edge which conceals the slots. Next to this is a recess to reset button, should the system need rebooting. There is also a status LED which identifies incoming calls, communication with other door stations, new recordings, security alerts and system reboots.

On initial power up, you are presented with a settings screen. This includes options for call, monitor, brightness and volume adjustments, talk, general settings and record.

Call options include settings for the door station, room station, call tone and call duration. The monitor menu covers enabling and disabling of monitors and LEDs, along with monitoring durations.

Brightness of the display and volume for the various elements can all be set via sliding scales in the on-screen menu. Talk settings include a privacy mode and volume adjustments for night-time use. The record menu covers configurations for archiving. Finally, the general menu includes settings for sound, PIN, alarms, date and time and door release.

The menu structure is fairly straightforward, and most of the configurations are self-explanatory. There is not anything that is overly complex, and the only time we had to refer to the manual was to ascertain the default PIN code.

Once the configurations are complete, the home screen of the unit changes to one that is designed for user operation. However, this also includes a settings button should you wish to return to the configurations screen.

When a call is initiated from the door station, the monitor sounds an alert and displays the video. It also presents a number of on-screen operation buttons. These include talk, lock activation (there are two outputs with individual buttons), end the call and menu. The menu button gives options to record, adjust the volume, adjust the image and switch an additional relay for a peripheral device. There is also an option to digitally pan, tilt and zoom within the image.

When a second monitor station is connected, there is also an option to call that unit; the monitor stations are designated as rooms.

Image quality is good in normal lighting. If we were to be picky, it does seem to have quite a heavy level of gain added. This makes some of the colours seem artificially vibrant, and whilst this isn’t a brightness issue, turning this element down can give the image a more realistic feel. That said, the device will be used for visitor identification and in many applications where light levels may be unpredictable, the additional degree of gain will enhance the strength of the video signal.

Audio quality is good, whether using the master unit in hands-free mode or with the handset. In our installation there was no discernible background hiss or echo, and even with high levels of ambient background noise, conversations were clear and easy to understand.

In lowlight the door station automatically switches on a white light illuminator when a call is made. Of all the units in the test, the JPS-4AEDV has the best performing illuminator, but the image does retain a high degree of noise. One tiny niggle when using the unit in darkness is that whilst a nameplate on the door station is illuminated, the button is not.

The depth of flexibility on offer ensures that the unit can be set up for the vast majority of applications, whether these be commercial office or residential sites.

Axis: AXIS A8105–E

The AXIS A8105–E differs from the other video door entry systems in this test as it is supplied as a standalone IP-based door station. It is deployed as an add-on device to a network surveillance system, and as such does not make use of a traditional handset and monitor. User interaction is flexible, but is dependent upon the interfaces supported by the main system.

The AXIS A8105–E delivers 1920 x 1200 video streams at frame rates of 25fps (with WDR enabled) or 50 fps (with WDR disabled) using a 1/2.8 inch progressive scan CMOS sensor. The camera features a 2.8mm lens with a horizontal field-of-view of 180 degrees and a vertical field-of-view of 120 degrees. The lens is IR corrected. Image format is H.264, with baseline, main and high profiles. Motion JPEG is also supported.

Duplex audio streaming is supported with echo cancellation and noise reduction to achieve higher audio quality. The door station, which features an integral speaker and microphone, can support SIP connections. This makes it compatible with a wide range of VoIP systems.

The AXIS A8105–E is, in effect, an Axis networked video camera and as such includes many of the proprietary technologies offered with the company’s range of surveillance cameras. These include multiple streaming, WDR forensic capture, corridor format, privacy masking, digital PTZ and Zipstream dynamic encoding. The latter is used for bandwidth management; it assesses the video stream and identifies areas of lower interest which then have a higher compression ratio applied.

With regard to smart functionality, the video door station can be loaded with third-party applications supported by the ACAP scheme. It also supports integral video motion detection, active tempering alarm and audio detection. The latter can create an alarm event if audio levels exceed a predefined threshold. Events can be triggered by a range of actions including analytics and external inputs, edge storage events, call state changes, shock detection, temperature, schedule, etc..

Lock control for the unit requires integration with a safety relay box (AXIS A9801) or the network door controller (AXIS A1001). There is a single 12V DC power output; power input is PoE. The AXIS A8105–E uses an RJ45 connection for network and power in. Inputs and outputs are handled via a six pin terminal block. Edge storage makes use of a microSD card, and there is also support for recording images to a NAS.

The video door station measures 148 x 35 x 48mm and weighs 280g. It is supplied with an installation guide, a connection guard, the terminal block for the relays and a Torx bit.

The AXIS A8105–E is very much designed for systems where the control of door entry is viewed more as a surveillance task than an access control one. That said, because the manufacturer also offers devices designed to integrate access control elements into an overall system, the boundaries between the two technologies will have already been eroded for many installers and integrators. It must be accepted that some may prefer their door entry to be biased towards access control, but there are equal arguments to support the approach taken by Axis Communications.

Build quality of the door station is high, and the finish quality is very good. It is a relatively small unit, but the manufacturer has a proven track record in creating high quality miniaturised devices.

Products from Axis typically make use of a simple discovery utility during installation. Benchmark has, over the years, tested network devices from the vast majority of credible manufacturers, and the Axis utility has consistently performed well, and is both quick and accurate.

Unfortunately, Axis Communications has made the decision to no longer supply this utility with its products. Instead it has placed the onus on installers and integrators to download a copy from the company’s website. This decision has ultimately saved the company money, but this is at the inconvenience of its customers. While many installers and integrators will have a copy of the utility somewhere, engineers who may be coming to the brand for the first time from the access control sector will need to find a copy of the tool online. The brief installation guide does not make any reference to the utility.

Once you have a copy of utility, the door station is found quickly and easily. The utility does allow the network configurations to be changed, and once this is completed, you can log into the device. You are then prompted to set the root password, and the final stage before accessing the device is to select the capture mode. Note that if you wish to change this later, it can be done from the device’s menus, but some configurations may be reset as a result. In short, it pays to make the right choice during installation.

Both capture modes are 1920×1200 pixels, which delivers a 16:10 aspect ratio. This is based on the WUXGA format which is more common in IT than video applications. The difference between the two modes comes down to whether wide dynamic range is applied. If it is the maximum frame rate will be 25fps; if wide dynamic range is not required, the maximum frame rate is 50fps. Due to the fact that door entry applications often face harsh lighting conditions, we opted to use the wide dynamic range function. Often the siting of units will be determined by the location of the door rather than by the best position for capturing good quality video.

When accessing the video door station, a viewing plug-in needs to be downloaded from the device, and if you wish to configure the unit with a H.264 stream then an additional decoder also needs to be loaded. There is also an additional AAC audio decoder required. This latter element is slow to load, and at times it seems as if the processor stopped. However, if you remain patient and wait it out, the element will eventually load.

The menus will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s used cameras from Axis Communications before. That said, the setup is very intuitive and it’s unlikely that any installer or integrator will struggle with configuration.

There are basic setup menus, along with more advanced options covering video and audio, VoIP, live view, detectors, applications, events, recordings and system options. The best advice is to work through them in a logical order, which is helped by the fact that such an approach is used in their layout.

While the use of WUXGA resolution may seem odd, the camera streams can be set as HD (1080p or 720p) or a wide range of other formats. The stream can also be switched to corridor (portrait) if required. Where the management of bandwidth is a concern, the Zipstream function works well. There are four settings levels, and a balance between image quality and bit rate is easy to achieve.

With regards to audio, if SIP connectivity is to be used, the device includes a setup wizard to simplify this. The full manual, which again needs to be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website, may be required if you are new to VoIP configurations.

There is a high degree of flexibility, but it is fair to say that some elements of an integration with third-party VoIP systems will require a good working knowledge of such architecture.

Unsurprisingly, video quality is high and colour fidelity is very accurate in daylight conditions. In uneven lighting which would be challenging for many cameras, the unit performs well. It is clear that the wide dynamic range functionality is well implemented. However, the specification quotes light sensitivity as 0 lux with the unit’s LED enabled. Sadly that’s not the case. If you rely on the LED alone the image is noisy and a positive identification cannot be made unless the visitor is very close to the unit. It requires additional illumination for night-time use.

The image does show slight signs of barrelling; however, this is a result of the wide viewing angle which ensures that callers can still be identified, even when standing to one side of the door station. It can be adjusted out, but there’s a fine line between removing it and introducing new image issues.

It is possible to set the viewing area for both landscape and corridor streams, thereby allowing a good degree of customisation dependent upon individual applications.

Audio quality is good, and during testing there were no issues with comprehension, even when high ambient levels of background noise existed. Access control functionality is as would be expected from a door entry station.

In truth, the AXIS A8105-E is very much a modular element that enables audio and video communication to other systems.

Panasonic: VL-SWD501EX

The VL-SWD501EX from Panasonic is billed as a wireless video intercom system. It is made up of three elements: a door station with integral camera, a main monitor station and a wireless monitor station. It uses a combination of two-wire connectivity between the door station and main monitor, a wireless connection between the main monitor and the sub monitor.

The kit is supplied with a VL-V554EX surface mount door station; a variance of the kit is available with a flush mount option.

There is also a VL-MWD501EX main monitor station which is surface mount. These two elements are typical of mainstream door entry systems, and as such will be immediately familiar to a number of installers and integrators. The final element of the kit is a VL-WD613EX wireless monitor station. This is a handheld unit which allows the user to interact with the system from anywhere within the property.

The main monitor unit is supplied with a PSU; the door station takes its power from the monitor unit. There is also a charging cradle supplied with the handset. The kit is supplied with an installation and operation manual.

Starting with the door station, the manufacturer does not specify the camera resolution. However, in reality quality isn’t required to be high as the image is only viewed via either the five inch display on the monitor unit or the 2.2 inch screen on the handset. The viewing angle of the camera is 170 degrees horizontally by 115 degrees vertically. The door station does include illumination LEDs, and the quoted sensitivity is stated as 1 lux within 50cm of the unit. The door station has a single press button for visitors.

The main monitor unit features a widescreen 5 inch colour display. This has a X2 digital zoom function which is operated by simply touching the screen. There are also two display indicators on the touchscreen: these are for notifications at the status of the unit’s SD card. The notifications can be toggled on or off.

The SD card is inserted into a slot on the side of the main monitor. This records 30 second clips of visitors. If the optional wireless cameras are also used, video clips from these can also be stored. With regards to the capacity of the cards, these vary depending on the source of the video. From the door phone, a 2GB card can store 125 clips, with 520 clips on an 8GB card. A 48GB card will support 3,000 clips. While the unit will support higher capacity cards, there is little point in using these as 3,000 clips is the maximum supported.

The main monitor has two control buttons. The first is a Talk button with a blue LED indicator. When a call is made, an icon also appears on the touchscreen which can be used to initiate a conversation. The second control button is to switch the main monitor unit off. There is also a concealed reset button.

Control over a lock can be carried out from either the main monitor or the wireless sub monitor. Once a lot has been added to the system a touch icon on the screen is enabled. Multiple locks can be supported. Where multiple doors are protected, the main monitor will also indicate if the second call is received whilst another is active.

Communication with the main monitor unit is hands-free; there is no handset unless the additional wireless sub monitor is used.

The wireless sub monitor has a 2.2 inch colour display. The transmission range is quoted as 100 metres from the main monitor with line-of-sight. The unit has a charging time of eight hours. The handset also features two soft keys and a miniature controller to allow additional functionality. The soft keys are used to control electronic lock, to zoom the display and any other selected operations. There are also buttons for monitor display and to make calls, as well as a Talk button with indicator and a button to switch the handset off.

In terms of expansion, the system can support two door stations and up to six wireless sub monitor units. There are also a range of additional peripheral add-ons such as wireless cameras and repeaters. These optional items are beyond the scope of this test.

Whilst Panasonic bills the VL-V554EX as a wireless video intercom system, the reality is that connections are hybrid. The main monitor unit has a two wire connection to the door station. This manages video, power and audio. The main monitor also requires the power input connection. The door stations include wiring to electronic locks (two are supported per unit). For many installers and integrators, this latter point will be a concern.

It is accepted best practice in security applications for connections to logs to be made from a device on the secure side of the system. As door stations are located in insecure locations, it could be possible for someone with an understanding of the system to manipulate the door lock operation. Whilst the practice of cabling locks from door stations (all readers in access control applications) is common in lower cost systems due to simplified cabling, it is difficult to recommend such an approach for those offering professional security solutions.

The sub monitor handset is the only element of the system which is wireless. This communicates with the main monitor unit.

Installation is relatively straightforward, and the accompanying manual is predominantly pictorial. The supplied schematics are clear and easy to follow; given the intended market for this product, and the fact that it can be purchased directly by consumers, does give it something of a DIY feel.

In daytime use, image quality is as you would expect from a video door entry system. The wide angle of view does have a slight downside, in that visitors who step back from the door after ringing the bell take up a relatively small percentage of the screen.

It is possible to digitally zoom the image; this will introduce pixelation but it is still possible to identify individuals. The illuminators on the unit automatically switch on if light levels are low (it doesn’t have to be anywhere near darkness for them to activate), but unless it is very dark they don’t have any significant impact.

Lowlight images do display a degree of noise, and during night time use the integral illuminators struggled to do their work unless the caller is relatively close to the unit. It does very much rely upon the user having a conversation with the visitor. Of course, if they would rather simply view the visitor before initiating a conversation, then the picture quality can be a little hit or miss.

The image on the wireless handset is much less effective due to the reduced size of the screen. The other issue is that the video has a low frame rate and is subject to motion blur.

Audio quality is good and speech is clear, even where ambient background noise levels are relatively high. The lack of a dedicated button for lock control can be a bit of a pain, especially if you’re using the soft keys for multiple purposes.

The VL-V554EX is predominantly aimed at householders, and due to the lock connections is only suited to low-risk applications. Operation is geared more towards offering a lifestyle product than dedicated security system element.

Hikvision Intercom Door System

The Hikvision kit is made up of three elements: an IP video intercom door station (DS-KV8402-IM), an IP video intercom indoor station (DS-KH8301-WT) and a video/audio distributor (DS-KAD606). All three elements are sold separately.

The external unit is billed as a Villa door station and supports up to four doors. Based on an embedded Linux operating system, the door station includes an HD720p lowlight colour camera which delivers video streams at 25 frames per second. The camera, which uses H.264 compression, includes integral infrared illuminators for night time use.

The door station also includes an integral omnidirectional microphone and a loudspeaker for audio communication. Audio compression uses the G.711 U standard at a rate of 64Kbps. Quality is enhanced due to the use of noise suppression and echo cancellation technologies.

Other features include an integral card reader, and RTE input and automatic door status monitoring. It can support up to eight inputs, with a single output.

The door station is constructed from aluminium, and is rated to IP65. It features camper protection. Power consumption is quoted as less than 12W, and power input can be 12V DC; PoE is also supported.

The monitor unit includes a 7 inch TFT LCD touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024 × 600. The unit includes an integral camera, loudspeaker and omnidirectional microphone. Capable of supporting up to 8 alarm inputs, the monitor also includes a slot for an SD card.

The fascia of the screen includes an SOS touch key, as well as controls for door unlocking, live view and access to the management centre. There are also indicators for power, storage and alarm.

As with the door station, power input to the internal monitor can either be PoE or 12V DC. Power consumption is claimed to be less than 10W.

Finally, the video/audio distributor is a wall mounted unit which features a mains power input and eight RJ45 connections.

The latter are made up of two LAN connections and six device connections. The unit allows both power delivery and connectivity for the indoor and outdoor intercom modules.

With regard to installation, the video/audio distributor supplies power to both the internal and external units. The door station includes a small fly lead which has an RJ45 connection for network and power, along with a number of other cables for alarm input, RS485 connections, alarm output (more about this in a moment) and conventional power supply.

It is important to realise that the wires labelled as alarm outputs are used for connections to the door lock. For many professional installers and integrators, cabling to the door lock itself from the device on the insecure side of the door is a no-no, and despite the inclusion of tamper protection on the door unit, this is an approach that we cannot recommend.

Additional connections from the indoor monitor station include alarm inputs and outputs and RS485 links.

Once the peripheral wiring is completed, connections are made between both units and the video/audio distributor device ports. This is done using standard network cabling. With the distributor powered up, the devices run through their short start-up process.

The monitor unit is operable once powered up, and can be configured via the user interface. The door station, however, needs to be activated. This can be achieved using the batch configuration tool which is supplied with the device on a CD.
The batch configuration tool CD does include a user manual in PDF format, but you will find yourself jumping between the manuals for the various devices and the tool.

The actual configuration tool itself is not as intuitive as it could be. For example, when assigning call buttons on the door station, you need to enter a floor number and a room number. Both of these can be single digits. To link to a specific monitor, you need to allocate a device to specific rooms. However, there is no entry for a floor number. The room number cannot be a single digit, and cannot start with a zero.

There is a tooltip, but this only appears with an incorrect entry. Even then it’s not as clear as it could be. Following a bit of trial and error, we discovered that configuring the monitor unit as room 101 (ironically this was not intentional) meant that the two devices communicated. This is because the monitor designation is seen by the system as a floor number (in this case 1) and a double-digit room number (01). It’s a small point, but one that is frustrating given how simple it would have been to have replicated the configuration menus.

Once the relationship between the door button and the unit is made, further configurations can be carried out. These include general system parameters such as time and date, users, RS485 communications and general system maintenance. Time durations for communication and door unlock can be set, and I/O triggers can be configured. There is also an option to adjust the video parameters for the display.

With regard to performance, the video is good in daylight conditions, with the only quibble being a slight amount of barrelling distortion due to the wide angle of the lens. Detail is high, colour fidelity is good, and it is easy to positively identify a caller.
As light levels fall, the image inevitably becomes a little noisier but switches to night mode before it’s a real issue. Using the IR illumination does show signs of pooled light, as a visitor standing centrally to the camera will have white patches on their face! That said, it’s never a case of the image being unusable.

Audio quality is also good, and clarity is high. We experienced no problems with conversations, even if there was a fairly high level of ambient noise.

The touchscreen works well, and the only quibble was that at times it’s easy to add extra characters to the password box as the keyboard is butted up against the password enter key.

The call buttons on the external door unit do have some foibles. These can be programmed for different responses if the button is pressed briefly or held continually. The issue with this is it does somewhat rely on the visitor being aware of the situation. Also, we noted that if the call button is pressed shortly after initiating a call it then ends the call. This could lead to impatient visitors – we’re thinking delivery men here – ending a call without realising it.

On a positive note, the inclusion of the integral card reader does deliver an additional benefit in a wide range of applications, especially when multiple residences or offices are sharing a site.

The Hikvision IP Video Door Intercom is a frustrating product, because it has a good level of functionality and performs well too. The configurations allow a relatively good level of flexibility.

Much like the Panasonic system, the functionality does highlight that this device would fit in with the demands of the lifestyle market. However, it is harder to envisage it being considered for applications where security is important due to the door lock connections being made from the external unit.

Whilst it is tamper protected, removing the front of the unit creates a very brief audible alarm using a tone which is commonplace on mobile phones. In fact, when we triggered it, one member of the test team picked up his mobile to check it for messages. As such, the likelihood of anyone understanding that a security violation is taking place and responding accordingly are not great.

If that one element was to be changed, then the product would be a good addition for those looking to expand the flexibility of any visitor management system.

We did have some debate as to whether a workaround could be achieved using the alarm options, but the complexity of this – especially in a multi-residence scenario where users might have differing opinions on the balance of security and convenience – falls outside of the core purpose of this test.


Aiphone JPS-4AEDV

With the JPS-4AEDV, Aiphone has delivered a traditional (in terms of features and functions) video door entry system that is easy to install, simple to use and includes video and audio performance that meet expectations for this type of system.

Whilst it’s true that Aiphone hasn’t reinvented the wheel, what it has achieved is modernising an established and proven product design with additions such as call recording and the use of RJ45 connections to deliver an enhanced offering. The level of flexibility ensures that it will tick all the right boxes for the majority of mainstream applications. Its appeal will also be widened by the fact that it allows a good level of system expansion.

Because of all this, Benchmark not only recommends the JPS-4AEDV, but it was also unanimously nominated as the Best Buy by all members of the Benchmark test team involved in this assessment.

Axis Communications AXIS Q8105-E

The Axis Communications AXIS A8105-E is less of a video door entry system, and more other video door station that enables the introduction of door entry control in VMS-based systems or for integration with VoIP. Image quality is good, but additional illumination is required in lowlight conditions. Audio quality is also high.

The device does require additional elements such as a lock relay unit and network door controller to be operational. Installers and integrators will also need to be au fait with integration to VoIP telephony systems if they opt for such a system configuration.

Benchmark does recommend the Axis Communications AXIS A8105-E video door station, with the proviso that those specifying it understand its role within a greater system architecture.

Panasonic VL-SWD501EX

The Panasonic VL-SWD501EX takes a hybrid approach to installation, and its functionality is clearly aimed at householders. As such, some of the expected security-centric features are absent. For many installers and integrators, powering and controlling locks from an external door station will be a no-no.

Image quality is usable, and audio quality is good; given the target market both will be more than adequate.

While many of the issues with the Panasonic VL-SWD501EX are not deal-breakers, linking locks to door stations in an insecure area is. As such, we cannot recommend the unit for professional security applications.

Hikvision Intercom Door System

The Hikvision IP video intercom door system scores highly with regard to functionality and flexibility, and for applications where convenience and ease of installation rate highly, it definitely offers something that will appeal to users. If this test was focused on lifestyle products for office management, it would rate highly. However, as with all Benchmark tests, we must remember that the security performance must also be credible and effective.

As such, we simply cannot recommend door entry products which link to the door lock via an external device on the insecure side of the door. If that was changed, and the tool GUI had a few tweaks, this would be a very different proposition for those seeking flexible and convenient visitor management products.

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