VERA Edge Update
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Well it's not been due to lack of activity. Our support guys have spent a lot of time testing the common Z-Wave devices and getting to know more about the new features buried in this new Z-Wave controller.
And, we're starting to like it - VERA Edge is getting there. It has some nice new features and it's supporting devices much better than when it was first released.
Most of our time has been spent testing devices. This is a slow process as each device takes around 2 hours to test. We make sure that it includes correctly, that all its functions work, and that it can be controlled manually and from scenes. We also test it in association mode so that we know that it works nicely with other Z-Wave devices in the system. When we find a device that doesn't work correctly we look at workarounds and even change the XML device files to enable the device to work correctly - we then release these as application notes.
Currently we're updating the Z-Wave Compatibility Guide each week, so take a look and check that the devices you're interested in are supported.
VERA have overhauled the user interface in VERA Edge. We've not been great fans of UI7, but with one firmware update released and another one just around the corner, we're starting to see the beginnings of a good controller. UI7 has some nice features and VERA have put some thought into solving issues that have been around for a long time.
One of the issues with including (adding) new devices is that the controller has to guess what that device is. It usually does this by looking at how the device 'announces' itself and what Z-Wave classes it supports. This used to work well, but now, with more complex multi-channel devices, multi-sensors and highly configurable devices, this has become a minefield. With UI7, VERA's decided to use a template approach. Each device has a template, so when being added, the controller knows exactly how to include it correctly. This does mean that VERA need to add templates for each supported device, but we have seen them working hard to do this and more activity from them working closely with other vendors. There's also a 'Generic' device type for devices not yet having their own template.
There are actually a lot of new features in VERA Edge. But in normal VERA style, they're not documented so you stumble across them when you're looking for something else. One we particularly like is the 'Home/Away' mode. This makes it really easy to have the system do different things depending if you're there or not, or for arming an alarm panel. Other systems have this, but the one in UI7 really works. When you add security style devices, they're automatically allocated to this mode. For instance we were surprised to see the Zipato RFID Keypad already has a template in VERA, when it's included, it gets assigned to the Home/Away mode - which is just how you'd want to use it.
Things still to be fixed
There are two things that are outstanding from our perspective.
USB Port not working
The USB port isn't functioning at the moment, but there looks like there is a fix due to be released in the next few days that will have this resolved. This is an important area as it prevents logging information and using adapters like the RFXtrx433E to enable the VERA to work with 433MHz and LightwaveRF systems. We'll keep you posted as soon as the firmware upgrade is released and tested.
Quirky handling of Thermostats
VERA's opted for a strange way to control thermostats in UI7. The device includes fine and can be controlled great from scenes. But in the UI's device icon you can't enter a specific 'setpoint' value you have to use the incremental Up/Down control, but this only lets you change the 'setpoint' in 1°C increments and then you have to wait for that value to be transferred to the thermostat. Most people will want the setpoint controlled in scenes, so this isn't a big issue, but we'd still like to see this improved.
Final note - for now
We're pleased with many things in VERA Edge, we're starting to like it and we think it's going to be a good Z-Wave controller. The signs are already there and it already does most things well. Once the other issues are ironed out, it will be a worthy successor to VERA Lite and VERA3.
We'll keep you posted.