Communities

The Best Video Intercom Systems of 2022 | myQ

August 29, 2022

Whether you’re considering a video intercom system for a new development, or you need to retrofit your building’s wired doorbell, you need a solution that fits your unique needs. We’ve identified the best video intercom systems on the market this year, and we’ll show you what to look for so you can make an informed decision on the best choice for your property. Here’s what’s inside:

  • What is a Video Intercom System?
  • What is a Door Lock Release?
  • The Internet of Things and Smart Video Intercoms
  • Questions to Consider Before Buying a Video Intercom System
  • Reviews and comparisons of the top 12 smart video intercom systems.
  1. ButterflyMX
  2. DoorKing
  3. Cellgate
  4. DoorBird
  5. Comelit
  6. 2N
  7. Swiftlane
  8. Linear
  9. OpenPath
  10.  Brivo
  11.  Mircom
  12.  LiftMaster

What is a Video Intercom System?

wireless video intercom system for apartment buildings or a multi-family community requires hardware, think of it as a base station at the building’s entrance. It has a speaker, microphone and camera which can be mounted flush on the exterior wall or on a pedestal as the situation dictates.

The resident directory is stored in the hardware but a modern, smart video intercom is also connected to the internet so the directory can be updated from a laptop, without requiring a visit to the building. Visitors use the directory touchscreen to find a tenant and enter the unit number. The resident can see who wants in with a high-quality, 1-way video feed. This means that the resident can see and speak with the guest, but the guest can only hear the resident.

There are two ways in which substations and base stations exchange information within a door entry system.

Corridor of contemporary apartment with opened doorway leading to living roomWired system: In older entry systems, like the door buzzer, doorbell or telephone intercom, the exchange of data happens via wiring. This wiring is the copper-based plain old telephone service (POTS) lines that major telecom companies have begun to phase out of service. Over time, the cost of maintaining POTS lines will increase, and if they should need repair, the telecom provider will be under no obligation to do so. This means that the costs to service telephone landlines will continue to increase.

Wireless system: Modern door entry systems exchange information wirelessly. This means that instead of connecting people and devices with copper wiring, the connection happens in the cloud. The cloud refers to web-connected servers and software that users can access over the internet. If the intercom system is transmitting and receiving video data, that’s known as a wireless smart video intercom.

What Is a Door Lock Release?

If the resident decides they want to let the guest enter, they press a “door unlock” button on their smartphone to grant building access. When that button is pressed, it signals the door lock release mechanism to unlock the door and admit the visitor.

The Internet of Things and Video Intercoms

The value of the internet of things is that it enables two-way communication. The ability to send data — a message, for example — paired with the ability to relay data back. The internet of things enables analog machines, products and devices with this intelligence, making them “smart.”

Smart refers to internet connectivity. The cloud and connectivity of the internet of things has created the smart access control market and introduced a host of new products from refrigerators that remind you to get milk to smart thermostats that automatically adjust the temperature in your home.

The problem with legacy access control technologies is that they are analog rather than digital. Analog technology is discrete because the software programs or hardware stand alone and do not easily connect with one another. But smart access control technology lives in the cloud, where software and devices can share information because both “live” on a connected cloud platform, such as the myQ Community platform.

The Smart Video Intercom Goes by Many Names

There are different names for smart video intercom systems. The names usually refer to different aspects of the internet of things and its ability to connect software and hardware on a hosted cloud, or web-based, platform.

Wireless Video Intercoms: Instead of connecting people and devices with telephone lines and copper wiring, wireless connections happen over a secure internet connection. That’s why hard wiring isn’t always needed. The cloud refers to internet-connected servers and software that users can access for data and apps. Just like a smartphone.

IP Smart Video Intercoms: A wireless video intercom exchanges information using a language referred to as Internet Protocol (IP). IP ensures that data is sent to and received by the correct internet address.

Cloud-based Video Intercom System: This name refers to an internet connected (cloud) platform and the software that enables video intercom hardware (video camera, microphone and touchscreen) to share data with the operating software. myQ Community is an example of cloud software that transmits data (live-stream video clips) of each entry event that managers can track from a convenient dashboard on their laptop or tablet.

 Video Intercom with Mobile App: A smart video intercom system is like your smartphone. Both are hardware. Both connect to theLiftMaster myQ Community smartphone apps internet.  And both have apps. A video intercom mobile app enables users to unlock doors, send virtual guest passes to people who need to enter their home and to see who wants to come in before unlocking the door.

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Video Intercom

There are many video intercom access management solutions to choose from. It’s important to understand the unique concerns of your property, whether it’s an apartment building, condo HOA or multi-family community.

Ask these questions to compare systems and ultimately choose a trusted smart video intercom partner for your property.

Will I need to buy additional hardware or software?

The best video intercom systems are modular. Think of them as access control components that can be selected for the solution that fits a property’s specific needs. It’s like choosing the features you want when buying a car: engine size, automatic vs. manual transmission, power windows, remote start and so on. The salesperson or installer will identify the components needed to meet the property’s current access control needs. The best video intercom systems are mapped in advance without the need to buy additional hardware or software after purchase. The exception is if additional components are needed to accommodate growth.  Smart video intercom systems are scalable and can build on what’s already in place to address changing needs.

How easy is the video intercom system to use?  

Ease of use is typically the most important factor to take into consideration when updating and old doorbell or telephone phone intercom to a video intercom system. A reliable system should come with an intuitive interface for residents as well as easy programming capabilities that allow non-techies to easily add or update data. A smart video intercom system should automatically install software updates, which eliminates staff’s need to manage multiple software licenses and any confusion from running different software versions.

Is the video intercom system customizable?

It’s important to select a smart video intercom door entry system that aligns with your community’s needs. The system should be scalable and flexible to allow users to specify the level of control they need, with the ability to add access control solutions for elevators, parking structures, package rooms, gates, garages and more. The access control system should also come with robust diagnostics that can be customized to issue alerts and notifications that are relevant to the property’s needs.

Is the video intercom system versatile?

Smart video intercom systems are versatile as their components are customizable. They also provide digital amenities that streamline a manager’s workflow and fulfill resident expectations. Examples might be a smartphone app that enables voice-controlled entry, the ability to issue digital passes to guests and service people remotely and the sense of security that comes from being able to see who’s at the door before granting access.

Will the video intercom system secure every entry point? 

Not every smart video intercom system has the capacity to secure multiple entry points. Make sure that, in addition to the main entrance, Map of community access pointsthe solution also controls access for: garages, parking structures, gates, fences, elevators, and amenity areas such as the gym, pool and package room and more.

Comparing the Top 12 Smart Video Intercom Systems: Our Reviews

We’ve reviewed and compared the top 12 video intercom systems on the market in 2022. Each vendor has different levels of hardware and software solutions, some are cloud connected and others are still analogue. Read on to compare systems and figure out which one would work best for your apartment building, community, condo or HOA.

ButterflyMX

ButterflyMX was founded in 2014, making them a newcomer in the smart access controls industry. Their video intercom systems offer property access monitoring to individuals and communities through a simple smartphone interface doing away with outdated and costly intercoms and traditional keypad entry systems.

PROS

ButterflyMX (BMX) solutions include a property access management web portal, the ability to manage access from anywhere, door release logs, package management, and virtual keys and elevator controls for guest management.

  • Integrates with Property Management Software (PMS) companies.
  • Best known for front entrance solution but not for other access points
  • Supports gate and garage controller, and a door reader.

CONS

  • App licenses are mandatory for every apartment which increases monthly subscription costs.
  • Entry logs capture a single image of each entry event, often lacking the clarity and detail of a streaming video feed.
  • BMX (not the customer) chooses the dealer who services the account. After the initial install, BMX selects the servicing dealer who may or may not be the same as the installer.
  • BMX dealers are restricted to hardware installation only, no revenue from database setup.
  • BMX does not offer door controller options, which can be a cost-effective way to expand an access solution.
  • No gate operator connectivity and diagnostics.
  • No built-in postal lock provision.
  • No ability to do a remote lockdown or a global unlock in case of an emergency.

DoorKing

DoorKing, founded in 1948, is a manufacturer of telephone entry systems, vehicular gate operators, parking control products, and access control systems, including video intercom systems.

DoorKing products are built in the United States, and they are one of the few access control companies that target maximum security markets such as airports, seaports, military, infrastructure and government in addition to serving multi-dwelling units (MDUs) in high-end communities.

PROS

  • DoorKing is a market leader with strong installer relationships.
  • Dealers are very familiar with how DoorKing products work.
  • Portfolio offerings from gated residential to gated community.
  • DoorKing’s Smart Open App allows users to activate their personal entry code with their Android Smartphone using the NFC (Near Field Communication) feature.

CONS

  • Most of DoorKing’s deployed products rely on analog, plain old telephone service (POTS). This is a problem because:
  • Telecom companies are phasing out support for copper telephone lines.
  • Telephone-based access controls require an on-site presence to update or remove resident credentials — and that takes time.
  • Telephone-based access controls do not have video cameras to show who wants to enter at community access points.
  • No iPhone app at the time of this writing.
  • DoorKing’s admin portal and app are outdated, lacking modern features:
    • No touchscreen.
    • No integrated camera.
    • No digital key.
    • No video calling
    • No guest management via smartphone.
    • No Property Management Software (PMS) integration.
    • No wireless connectivity to gate operators.

CellGate

Gouldin Technologies, LLC, DBA CellGate provides security products and services for wireless access control and monitoring over cellular networks and the internet. CellGate Recently launched a cloud solution, TrueCloud, hosted in Microsoft Azure to integrate its line of access control (Watchman), Door Controllers (Unify) and Cameras (Cellcam) and creating a video intercom system. The company serves gated communities and single-family homes with gates.

PROS

  • Released the Watchman W480 with its larger, more brilliant touchscreen, and Smart Screen technology.
  • Recently launched a Tiered Monthly Service Plans together Voice Mail Intelligence (VMI) to the entire Watchman family of products.
  • Ability to integrate external cameras.

CONS

  • Basic cloud features.
  • Outdated U.I
  • No guest management.
  • Does not integrate with Property Management Software.
  • No wireless connectivity to gates.
  • CellGate solutions do not scale well to meet the needs of large MDUs.
  • Product requires cellular activation and ongoing costs.

DoorBird

DoorBird is a German company at the intersection of exclusive design and innovative IP technology in the field of door communication. In 2015, Bird Home Automation Group opened a U.S. office in San Francisco. It also has a 3D-configurator platform that allows end-users to customize their product. To join the video intercom systems market, DoorBird created a direct replacement for the analog DoorKing Model 1812, providing a digital access control solution for single-family homes with a gate.

PROS

  • Elegant, straightforward design made of high-quality precious metal casings with more than 50 materials and colors to choose from.
  • Focus on global markets beyond Europe.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy* for contactless entry.
  • IoT-enabled smart home automation and in-vehicle infotainment.

CONS

  • DoorBird’s cloud solution lacks features:
    • No app for guest management.
    • No elevator controls.
    • No Property Management Software integration.
    • No large-format display or touch panel.
    • Video image storage costs extra. Still images are stored for free.
    • No elevator access control.
    • No virtual guest passes.
    • No remote diagnostics for gate operators.

Comelit

Founded in 1956 in Italy, Comelit (officially Comelit Group SpA) designs and manufactures a variety of products, from video entry and video surveillance systems to home automation and access control systems. Comelit’s headquarters are still located in Italy, but the company sells products internationally with a focus on single-family homes and multi-unit door entry systems.

PROS

  • Full home automation product line.
  • Can only support up to 15 smart devices, which is restrictive for medium to large properties.
  • Semi-modular design allows end-users to customize the final look of the product.
  • Dedicated platform for global professionals.

CONS

  • Portal design is not intuitive, making is less user-friendly.
  • Guest management is via QR code. The guest pass is limited to 24-hours of access.
  • Lacks the ability to set up temporary or recurring guest entry passes.
  • Requires a PC on-site to update the panel directory which is done manually via USB.
  • Lacks cloud connectivity which would enable work from anywhere convenience.
  • Price trends higher when compared with other access controls based on the same features.
  • No gate operator connectivity and diagnostics.
  • No built-in postal lock provision.
  • No property management software (PMS) integration.
  • No elevator controls.

2N

2N was founded in 1991 in Prague, Czech Republic. 2N shifted its focus from analog to IP technology in 2005, eventually launching an IP intercom in 2008. 2N opened a U.S. office in Florida in 2011. In 2016, 2N was acquired by Axis Communications, a leading audio and video solutions developer and have moved into creating video intercom systems.

PROS

  • Modular design. Allows end-users to customize the final look of the product.
  • 5-year limited hardware.
  • Leveraging in-house built contactless solution.

CONS

  • Cloud solution is still in early-stage development.
  • No gate operator products, no diagnostics or error codes.
  • Certain intercoms often require add-ons to perform as a modern system with built-in features does.
  • The base prices do not include keypad modules, access readers and tokens and mounting accessories.
  • Designed for smaller multi-dwelling units (MDUs), it lacks the ability to scale as needs change.

Swiftlane

Swiftlane, incorporated three years ago, is a cloud-based end-to-end smart technology solution that provides access to every point in a building: facial recognition access, mobile access, video intercom, visitor PINs, key card access and voice-enabled unlock. The start-up is focused on enterprise, commercial, and high-rise residential end-users.

PROS

  • Key player in the touchless entry video intercom system with facial recognition solution and voice-enabled unlock features.
  • Elevator access with individual floor level access.

CONS

  • Video intercom display measures 5.8 inches, significantly smaller than the average 10-inch video intercom display offered by competitors.
  • Additional hardware module needed for physical credentials.
  • Not built for total access control requirements.
  • Front door only access control.
  • Not a scalable solution.
  • No connectivity options to gates and card readers.
  • Guest management primarily through PIN codes.
  • No built-in postal lock provision.
  • New startup uncertainty, risk of insufficient capital to keep the platform functioning.

Linear

Owned by Nortek Control, Linear is an access control brand based in Carlsbad, California. While Nortek offers a broad range of security and home automation systems, Linear is focused on access control and telephone entry systems for a variety of industries. Linear Intercom technology – while simple and intuitive – is based on older technology like browser and PC-based software

 PROS

  • The parent company and adjacent businesses are now part of Nice S.p.A, a global manufacturer of smart home and smart building solutions.
  • Competitive price points with legacy experience.

CONS

  • No API integration with property management software platforms.
  • Most intercom models require telephone lines.
  • A PC is required to configure the IP network on the access control hardware.
  • No integrated camera. Audio-only intercom.
  • Limited app functionality, primarily for storing mobile credentials.
    • No temporary or recurring guest entry passes.
    • No remote access or diagnostic to gate operators.

Openpath

Based in Culver City, CA and launched less than 5 years ago, Openpath is an American manufacturer of cloud-based, mobile-enabled access control products, serving commercial and multi-family communities with physical security and IoT applications. In July 2021, Motorola acquired the company as part of its physical security platform. This allowed Openpath to expand its building access control options, including smart readers, video readers, controllers and smart hubs.

 PROS

  • Different connectivity options, including traditional key cards, smartphone, smartwatch and hands-free for touchless access.
  • Entire system is encrypted for extra security.
  • Easily integrates with the specific wireless door lock, control center, open platform hardware.
  • Video Intercom reader features mobile monitoring and capacity tracking.
  • Mobile credentials.
  • Open integration eco system with numerous integration capabilities.

CONS

  • No directory display screen. Visitors must depend on voice control to find the person to call, which can be difficult to navigate.
  • Smart reader is designed for indoor use.
  • No video storage of live-stream entry events.
  • No temporary or recurring guest pass options.
  • No elevator controls.

Brivo

Brivo is a cloud-based smart building access management company with a diversified, technology-enabled ecosystem. Recently acquired by a Crown PropTech Acquisition, listed on NYSW, Brivo and its intercom systems provides a global view of property assets in a single integrated platform that enables portfolio-wide data collection and response.

PROS

  • Extending into Home automation through the Brivo Smart Home for Multifamily communities.
  • Broad third-party API integration with multifamily, identity management, biometrics, parking, video.
  • Full elevator control capability.
  • Brivo payment programs.
  • Easy to use.

CONS

  • Does not include an intercom system. Customers must buy an intercom from another company, complicating the solution with a separate system to maintain.
  • External camera is required.
  • Higher monthly service subscription fee as they charge per door.
  • Solutions more focused on commercial office spaces.
  • Costly per month.
  • No delivery management temporary access pass.
  • No built-in postal lock provision.

Mircom

For over 30 years, Mircom, one of the few access control manufacturers that deploys the Microsoft Operating System on its hardware, has shaped the industries of communication, life safety and security. Founded in 1991, the company manufactures fire detection and alarm systems, voice evacuation, controlled access and security solutions.

PROS

  • Dedicated advertising interface for owners to generate income.
  • 15- and 22-inch touchscreen access control.
  • Established provider with more than 30 years in business.

CONS

  • PC-based programming requires on-site updates and changes.
  • Increase quality issues on windows-based system.
  • Rudimentary app features, mostly for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) capability.
  • Unstable app with very low customer rating for Android and iOS.
  • No guest entry management options on the app.
  • Only PC-based programming available (TX3 Configuration). Requires on-site updates and changes. Remote configuration is not available.
  • Event history is available but there is no image or video stream.
  • No delivery management temporary access pass.

LiftMaster® powered by myQ Community Cloud

LiftMaster Smart Video Intercom ProductsFor more than 50 years, LiftMaster has created entry control solutions from garage door openers to award-winning smart video intercoms powered by myQ. As a trusted smart access management brand, LiftMaster controls multiple points of entry from gates and garages to entrances and elevators, package rooms, parking structures and more. LiftMaster smart video intercoms provide safety, security and convenience to nearly 500,000 multi-family residences, monitoring 20,000 entry points across North America.

PROS

  • Long history in innovative access control solutions.
  • Trusted integrator and dealer partnerships built on shared recurring monthly revenue. (RMR).
  • Extended product portfolio for buildings, condos and communities of every size.
  • Solutions for front entrance and all other access points.
  • Controls up to 4 gates and/or doors with expendable door controllers.
    • Relay Output: 8 (4 Primary, 4 Auxiliary).
  • Connectivity options to gates, card readers, and elevators controls.
  • Hardware surface mount, pedestal mount, flush mount.
  • Durable, scratch-resistant 10-inch 720p high-definition color display touchscreen.
  • 1080 pixel viewing angle with 135-degree field of view.
  • App (virtual keys), Wiegand enabled devices, Card reader, PIN.
  • App is not mandatory for every unit. Priced per resident.
  • One app for all hardware products.
  • Voice-enabled capability on the app.
  • Video livestreaming and storage adds an added level of protection.
  • All hardware panel updates can be initiated from the myQ cloud with instantaneous deployment.
  • Tier-based pricing model lowers costs with scalability to manage growth.
  • Garage door integration capability.
  • Automated alerts for owners and managers.
  • Reliable proprietary hardware offering
  • Tiered level support to resolve customer issues, both technical and warranty based.

CONS

  • No IoT integration (coming Fall 2022)
  • No mobile credentials (coming Spring 2023)

Why LiftMaster is the Best Video Intercom System

Get everything you need to keep your property secure, your residents safe and your access control management up to date with modern, scalable solutions — net new or retrofit. Position yourself for success with LiftMaster’s complete line of access control solutions for every part of your property: main entrances, amenity rooms, gates, garages, fences, elevators, package rooms and retrofit options to modernize older equipment.

There’s a smarter way in. Learn more.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

For more than 50 years, LiftMaster® has created entry control solutions from garage door openers to award-winning smart video intercoms, powered by myQ. As a trusted entry management brand, LiftMaster controls multiple points of entry, from gates, entrances and elevators to package rooms, parking structures and more. LiftMaster smart video intercoms provide safety, security and convenience to nearly 500,000 multi-family residents, monitoring 20,000 entry points across North America.

 

 

 

Best video intercom system
Comparing video intercom systems
Video Intercom Systems

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