Next Generation Intercoms (Stentofon Turbine)

By Brian Rhodes, Published on Oct 01, 2012

Just like IP cameras, IP intercoms are getting more sophisticated. In the olds days, it might have been little more than a microphone and speaker in a box but increasingly they are becoming powerful computing appliances. Pushing this trend, Stentofon has introduced Turbine [link no longer available] - an all-in-one intercom system designed to be simple to install, involving only one component. In this note, we examine the offering's key features and pricing, comparing it to Commend and Mobotix.

Product Update

Turbine updates several existing Stentofon products, including the common wall mounted 'Flushmaster [link no longer available]' stations. It is a new design that consolidates several devices into a single sealed unit, reducing hardware and installation costs. Compared to existing Flushmaster stations, key additions/integrations into the Turbine include:

  • SIP Substation [link no longer available] - Allows intercom units to integrate with with an iPBX system and includes relay inputs for connecting to video surveillance equipment or access control systems.
  • Direct Access Keypads [link no longer available] - Instead of fixed selector buttons for chosing call destinations, the Turbine includes an option for a scrolling directory without needing an additional keypad panel.
  • Interconnecting cables/ powersupplies - Powered from a single PoE powersource, it eliminates additional powersupplies and extra communication cabling.

In addition to combining hardware, the new Turbine unit is 10% - 15% less expensive than the cost of previous Flushmaster units, but offers the same functionality with improved ruggedness.

Turbine Overview

Stentofon's latest terminal measures approximately 7" x 5" x 3", and is available in a variety of faceplate colors and finishes. The lineup below shows the basic spread of models and faceplates available:

Turbines are available in 6 variants that differ in function/orientation of call buttons and on-board displays. The basic unit is furnished with one single call button for point-to-point calling, while the advanced version includes scrolling buttons and a text display for multi-point calling.

The features common to all versions of the Turbine unit are:

  • IP66 rated, cast aluminum chassis: Unit is rated for installation in all-weather, and is temperature rated between -25C to +60C.
  • Speaker Power: Turbine units feature a 95 dB full duplex, omnidirectional speaker
  • PoE powerable
  • Automatic noise cancelling/gain control: intensity is maintained regardless of background noise or distance from unit
  • 6 I/O Ports: Outputs pass through 2A of DC voltage for controlling door hardware or relay closure queuing surveillance cameras. Alternatively, inductive loops inputs [link no longer available] can be used for vehicle intercom applications
  • Cost: MSRP for the basic Turbine unit is $990, ranging up to $1600 for scrolling displays and multiple button controlls.

Simplified Design/Installation

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Unlike other intercom systems composed of many pieces, Turbines designs involve only one unit. The terminals are one piece, and are installed flush mounted with no additional mounting boxes required. Communication inputs are a single Cat5e/6 cable, and no additional power supply is required when used with a 802.3af PoE switch or midspan.

Using Stentofon's Pulse platform means up to 16 Turbine stations can form an ad-hoc intercom system with no addition server required. Other IP intercom systems require a central appliance to route traffic, but the hardware design of Turbine mitigates to need for additional equipment. For futher details on Pulse, check out our previous review.

Turbine units are vandal rated and designed for all-weather use. The backlit pushbuttons are sealed against moisture and dust, and the speaker assembly is protected by a stainless mesh screen against 'poke' protection. The aluminum chassis is impact rated at a minimum IK8 rating, and all terminations are vibration proof rated for stanchion or bollard mount

Stentofon Turbine integrates with several mainstream VMS/PSIM platforms, including Avigilon, Milestone, Pelco, Proximex, and Vidsys [link no longer available]. The units also can be used with 'tradional' SIP and analog intercom systems for integration into older platforms.

Comparison

A system composed of two Turbines prices out:

  • Two TCIS-2 units at $990 each
  • Two 802.3af PoE midspans at $80 each
  • 600 feet of Cat5e Cabling at $90 each
  • Five hours of Installation/Configuration Labor at $65/ hour
  • Total System Cost of ~$2,600

Compared with the closest similar offering from Commend:

  • Two SIP-WS 500F [link no longer available] units at $1100 each
  • One GE50 Intercom Server at $500 each
  • Two Intercom Licenses at $35 each
  • Three DC power supplies at $25 each
  • 600 feet of UTP cabling at $90 each
  • Six hours of Installation/Configuration Labor at $65/ hour
  • Total System Cost of ~$3,350

The Turbine system is roughly $750 less expensive than the equivalent Commend system, requiring less equipment, and installation labor to commission. Using Pulse, no software licensing is required when installing Turbine units.

Compared with the Mobotix T24:

The Mobotix Door Station has two key comparative advantages: integrated video and no need for a dedicated workstation to view. The main disadvantage is that the unit cost of the Mobotix door station is significantly higher than the Turbine (~$1,700 vs $1,000). Secondarily, the Turbine claims better sound fidelity and vandal resistance.

When video is required or for a single door only system, the Mobotix T24 offers lower cost and/or enhanced features. However, for multiple unit deployments of voice only, the Turbine offers a low cost for a similar solution.

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