Choosing the best VERA Controller - 2014
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Last week we announced the new VERA Edge controller. This new controller combines the best of the VERA3 and the VERA Lite and still has a price of £50 less than VERA3. So the choice of a new VERA controller should be quite straightforward - VERA Edge. Especially as we see both VERA3 and VERA Lite being quickly discontinued within the next month - after which the only choice will be VERA Edge. But while we still have stock of the older versions of VERA, it's worth taking a look at the features so that you can choose the best solution for your needs.
More Memory - More Devices
The VERA Edge is the clear leader in memory. It has 128MB of both Flash and RAM which means that it can comfortably run even the largest Z-Wave systems. Its specs. show that it can support 220 Z-Wave devices, which is going to be more than enough for anyone as the maximum number of Z-Wave nodes on a network tops out at 230 - so we're close to the absolute Z-Wave maximum anyway. And, in reality very, very few people are going to have that many devices on their system.
More Memory - Faster
The VERA Edge and VERA3 both have the same 128MB RAM - this translates into a extra speed as the system has more 'head-room', enabling tasks to run faster. This is especially true when you plan to run a number of plugins on the system (as almost all VERA users do). Having said that, VERA Edge has one other thing up its sleeve when it comes to speed - it has its processor (CPU) running 20% (100MHz0) faster than its older siblings. This again translates into faster day-to-day performance.
Both the VERA Edge and VERA3 have an integrated Wi-Fi Router. This is probably the biggest difference between these and the VERA Lite. But to be honest we're a little surprised that they've kept this feature on VERA Edge. Almost everyone has a Wi-Fi router already installed - long before they think about home automation, so to many people this is a redundant feature. Most people have chosen VERA3 for the larger memory and support for more devices rather than its integrated router. But if this is important for you - then VERA Edge has one as well.
VERA Edge supports the new v5 Z-Wave Plus standard, it's currently the only Z-Wave Plus controller available. We're starting to see new Z-Wave Plus devices come available so this could be a good reason to go for the VERA Edge. More information is available in our 'What is Z-Wave Plus' guide.
Firmware UI5 or UI7
Moving away from the hardware, the choice of User Interface is going to be the deciding factor between the VERA line up.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, or you've asked our opinion, you'll know we're not fans of the VERA UI7 firmware. In fact we're still convinced that UI7 is not ready for release and we're advising people to downgrade to UI5. This has been our stance since UI7 was released back in July and then included as default on VERA3 and VERA Lite since August. We just see too many issues with UI7 - device incompatibility, issues with scenes (even simple ones) and remote access. Every time we see these issues we advise people to move to UI5 - and the next email we receive says UI5 fixed it all and everything is now working fine. So it can't be just us who has this feeling on UI7.
With VERA Edge, there will be no way to drop down to UI5 - the platform wasn't designed to run UI5, so your only choice is to use UI7. We've not had chance to test VERA Edge so we don't know which version of UI7 it's running. We are hoping that it's a different version being shipped with VERA3 and VERA Lite. We're hoping that VERA quickly address the issues and give VERA Edge the firmware it deserves.
As soon as we get the first VERA Edge into stock, our support guys are going start testing it with all the devices we've used in the Z-Wave Compatibility Guide. We'll publish the results and update the guide - but this is going to take time as each device needs to go through many tests to make sure it actually works the ways it's supposed to.
The feature set of the VERA Edge looks nice and at a price of £149 packs a lot of punch into it's small package. The real question is will VERA catch-up in their development of UI7 and make it shine along with the Edge's hardware. If you want to get one of the last VERA3 or VERA Lite controllers, so that you can use UI5, then I suggest you place your orders now. We have a final batch of VERA3 arriving during the middle of next week (around the 4th December) and we trying to confirm if the final batch of VERA Lite will actually be delivered. After that, when this stock is gone, there won't be any more.
We'll keep you updated on how this develops.