Why Qolsys IQ Panel Is a Smart Choice for the Smart Home
Is the Qolsys IQ Panel the best possible solution for your installation jobs? Security industry expert Robert D. Grossman answers in SSI’s Bench Test.
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The Qolsys IQ Panel is perhaps the most difficult product I have ever had to review. Even knowing what to call it for the review headline is a challenge, as it defies categorization. To paraphrase Shrek the ogre, Qolsys IQ panels are like onions; there are lots of layers.
We were provided with a test kit that included the IQ panel and some peripherals – a motion/image sensor, door/window contact, temperature/water sensor, and smart socket. Our goal was to test this in a system environment, simulating what both an integrator and a home or business owner would see. To that end, we were also provided with accounts on the Qolsys Dealer Portal and Alarm.com.
In our time with the IQ Panel, our feelings toward the product have evolved. It is essentially the center or hub of the much talked about “smart home.” It can control pretty much any-thing that you would throw at such a system, including (but not limited to) locks, lights, thermostats and outlets.
It has sensors for temperature, water, tilt (garage doors), video, smoke, carbon monoxide, glass-break and contact closure, among other things. It can be controlled from the panel, keypad, key fob, desk fob (duress alarm), a Web browser, your phone or tablet (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and a mobile-friendly Web site for other Web-enabled cellphones), or a pendant panic button (think “I’ve fallen but I can’t get up”).
The list goes on and on, and if you’ve just skipped to the end of this paragraph because such lists bore you, I’ll add one more thing: it’s a digital picture frame as well, with both preloaded images and an SD card slot for adding your own.
Qolsys IQ Panel
- Tremendously versatile touchscreen alarm panel and keypad that can be the brains of a secure smart home
- Eliminates the need for a traditional alarm panel while providing advanced features and solid reliability
- Solid construction
- Easy to install and configure for basic setup
- Home security, energy management and home control
- Wide variety of accessory devices
- Significant learning curve for advanced features
- Aesthetics may bother some
- Software isn’t as polished as end users will expect
- Finicky touchscreen
At first glance, I was not impressed with the overall appearance of the panel. It has a 7-inch touchscreen and runs the Android operating system, so my expectation was more along the lines of an Android tablet – slim borders, low profile and so on. This was my first exposure to the layers of this particular onion.
The panel has a wide (1.25-inch) plastic border, is 1.5-inches deep and weighs close to two pounds. In the context of a tablet, this panel is a beast, but considering it is an alarm panel with five radios inside, it is svelte indeed.
In fact, when I approached the panel as a system head-end with a touchscreen bolted on, it became more impressive. The wide front bezel is used to house a fairly low resolution (0.3-megapixel) fixed focus camera, microphone, and backlit “emergency” and “home” hardware buttons.
Internally, we were pleasantly surprised at an extremely carefully thought-out lay-out. While we suspect that few people will have occasion to take the panel apart, internally this is a very mature product. Circuit boards are clean (no cuts, jumpers or added components) and ventilation was clearly a consideration.
Screws that might be removed for servicing are threaded into brass inserts molded into the chassis; antennas are ingeniously arranged; plugs for removable connections are keyed for orientation, easy to reach and secure; and there are many test points on the circuit boards. This is a product designed to be repaired should the need arise, not disposable technology.
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