HID Edge EVO Tested

Published Jun 07, 2017 04:00 AM

HID Edge controllers have been one of most common offerings in IP door controllers for years.

The new generation is called Edge EVO.

We tested the original Edge 4 years ago. Now, we have bought the new, revamped Edge EVO and are sharing our test results here. As a third-party access hardware option, HID Edge controllers are supported by access vendors like Genetec, Brivo, Feenics, JCI, and others.


In addition to their 3rd party support (e.g. Genetec, Brivo, Feenics, JCI, and others), HID offers a free single door management software called 'Solo' on Edge EVO controllers that requires no additional software or servers. But is it useful enough to be a legitimate option?

Inside, our test covers the following points:

  • HID Edge EVO Versus Axis and Mercury Controllers
  • EVO Key Differences Compared to non-EVO
  • Edge EVO Physical Overview Video
  • Pricing Comparisons
  • Third-Party Management Software Partners
  • Converting Edge EVO Solo to regular EVO Units

And on the embedded software side:

  • Embedded EVO Solo Overview
  • EVO Solo Limitations
  • Ideal Applications

The report inside includes three videos, various images, and comparison charts with our detailed findings.

Key Test Findings

Key deficiencies or strengths include:

  • Dual Reader Support: In our test, we configured EVO to support two reader devices onboard, one via a set of Wiegand contacts, and a second unit through Assa's Hi-O protocol. While Hi-O is proprietary, many iClass compatible readers, including iClass SE units support it. EVO also supports additional I/O modules for multiple Wiegand readers. Previous Edge versions had a max support of one reader and did not support I/O expansion.
  • Edge EVO Inexpensive: Compared to common competitors, Edge EVO costs less - often half as much - as offset options. In terms of 3rd party support, Edge EVO has far fewer mainstream access partners than Mercury Security, but the controller typically costs ~$250 less.
  • Laggy Interface: Even in a simple network, updating settings and logs can take several seconds. While 'carding in' from a directly attached reader is instantaneous, pushing lock/unlock commands and clearing alarms from the web interface takes between 5 - 10 seconds even when the controller is on its own network.
  • More Output Power: Edge EVO bumps up the max available amount of field power to 9.6 W, meaning more powerful maglocks, strikes, and readers can be connected. Indeed, our test EVO powered two readers, a strike, and a PIR REX that totaled near-max output without trouble.
  • 'Combo Reader' security: Several EVO models include a separate input model that mounts on the inside/secured side that prevents exposing lock or network wiring to the outside world if the unit is knocked away off the wall.  In addition, an integrated optical tamper cannot be disabled and is configured by default.

While both versions of HID Edge are available, our test reviews the newer EVO, non reader/ integrated variant available in distribution and online for ~$275.

HID Edge EVO Versus Competitor Controllers

There are several third-party single door controllers that are frequently directly competitive with Edge EVO.  Two models directly pitted against Edge EVO include Mercury Security's EP1501 and the Axis A1001.  The chart below contrasts major functionality head-to-head, and also list the previous generation Edge for comparison:

In general, the biggest difference is price, with HID Edge EVO routinely 50% less costly than typical rebranded EP-1501 [link no longer available]s and A1001.  The pricing difference can be even sharper, as HID is widely available through internet distribution, unlike Mercury who strictly resells only through partners. Both Edge models and the EP-1501 are 'single door' controllers, while the A1001 can control two doors, but Axis has not offered a single-door only model.

Other key comparison points: The EVO supports more onboard memory and sports a larger event buffer size, more than doubling the next-biggest EP-1501. Apart from the increase 9.6 W output for field powered devices, the EVO can be 12 V, 24 V, or PoE (802.3af) powered.

For our test of the older, non-EVO version of Edge, see: Testing HID Edge Solo.

Edge EVO Key Differences 

Compared to the previous version, Edge EVO is twice the size. The increase in size corresponds to doubling reader capacity to two and increasing the available output power to field devices to 9.6 W. The image below shows both new EVO and old Edge models side-by-side:

The bigger size controller is still designed to mount onto a single-gang electrical box, although the larger unit requires more accessibility/wall space. Other generational changes include EVO permanent 'super capacitor' rather than a replaceable coin-cell battery with a service life of ~5 years, and EVO's 'optical' case tamper sensor compared to the old reed-type mechanical sensor.

Edge EVO Physical Overview Video

In the 3 minute video below, we compare and contrast the physical build differences between the both unit generations:

Third-Party Management Software Partners

As we note in our Axis vs HID vs Mercury Access Controllers post, Edge EVO units are supported by 10+ common commercial access platforms. The full list of partners includes several limited distribution or proprietary platforms numbering over 30 listed in HID's Edge Partner management softwares, although some of those options are not available via public resell or recognized in the physical security space.

HID's OPIN firmware API is free to use and write integrations with, and attributes to the relative 'openness' and widespread use of the controllers, and the firmware is shared by HID's 'other' controller series: HID VertX.

Solo's Single Door Access Management

Understanding how EVO Solo controller differ from 'non-Solo' units is a matter of separating hardware from software. From a hardware point of view, there is no difference between Solo and non-Solo units.  The difference is which type of firmware is written to the controller:

  • HID Edge EVO Solo: These controllers are flashed at the factory with HID's single-door management software called 'Solo' that permits adding cardholders, schedules, and configuring one opening for access control via an embedded web server client.
  • HID Edge EVO: This version of controller is factory built to be used with one of HID's Edge Partner management softwares and cannot function as standalone units.

Despite having two different firmware versions, units can be upgraded in the field. Solo units can be reflashed in the field without deinstallation to use standard host-bound firmware for use in partner management software.

Embedded EVO Solo Review

Edge EVO Solo is a basic access management platform that is embedded onto the controller and needs no server. The breadth and scope of management features is rudimentary, and is constrained to a simple list of cardholders, credentials, and scheduled permissions.  

  • Single Door Solo Support Only: For Solo versions, the max door count per management instance is one door. For multiple doors, an additional fee-based 3rd party management software must be used.
  • No Solo Integrations: The Edge Solo is a 'closed' system, and integrating the controller to video surveillance or intrusion alarm platforms is not possible using API or SDK. 

Many advanced features are not supported by Solo, such as mapping, video surveillance integration, visitor management, and multiple door management. Other features like reporting are limited to stock reports and cannot be custom defined. HID claims onboard memory can store several months worth of activity, but querying that data is fixed. 

In the video below, we look at EVO Solo's interface and usability:

In addition, EVO Solo supports a basic number of 'alerts' that are configurable to execute a number of actions ranging from 'local door alarm' - making the reader beep and flash - to sending alarm notification to a URL or email address. While the range of alerts is fixed and cannot be expanded, and the alerting options are basic, most single door access applications will be sufficiently covered by the types available. 

EVO Solo Limitations

One of Solo's biggest usability issues is latency between events that occur locally at the reader/controller, and when they are displayed in Solo's interface. The video below examines this limitation, and displays other limitations like Solo cannot integrate with other systems:


Only Three Manual Controls

In terms of manual door controls, the 'live status view' pane stays displayed in the browser window regardless of which tab is selected.  Solo's three control buttons are at the top of the event pane:

Those basic controls temporarily 'grants access' by manually cycling an unlock event, or a persistive option to 'unlock/ lock door' as a manual override, and a third option to silence an alarm condition causing the onboard beeper to sound. The overall interface is tabbed, with options to add/modify cardholders, credentials, schedules, reports, and door settings accessible from one mouse click:

The process of either adding a card or a user is possible from several screens. The EVO Solo stores a maximum of 1000 users or cards. For example, if a single user has four assigned cards, then four of the one thousand records are used. However, considering that only one door falls in the scope of the controller, this is not likely a significant limitation. 

HID Website Messy

In several cases, the help or function screens in EVO Solo dead-link or reference files 'not found' on HID's website. Regardless if the cited materials are still located on the site or not, the brokenness and ragged navigation from Solo's interface can make using advanced features or installation awkward and time consuming.

In the example below, a direct search term cited as returning inputs on MOV or Diode use for connecting locks to the controller yields a 'file not found' result. For inexperienced installers, the inaccessibility of topic details may result in them being ignored.

Ideal Applications

The biggest limitation of Solo is that it only controls one door. This limits use of the platform to very small applications where individually managing 3 - 5 separate doors in a non-centralized fashion is not an efficiency issue.

However, if paired with a 3rd-party management platform at additional cost, the overall usability of the hardware is better developed and may be integrated with other systems.

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