ButterflyMX is the most heavily-advertised smart video access control intercom on the market today and it provides the latest in capabilities such as communication with Android or iPhone smartphone apps through a cloud-based service. It can be used for multi-tenant or single-residence applications. In this ButterflyMX Review we will cover the pros and cons of not only ButterflyMX, but also compare it to the AL1002 Touch Screen Intercom from IntercomsOnine.com.
The ButterflyMX is available in two screen sizes; 7 inch and 11.6 inch. You can get the either of these sizes in a surface-mount or flush-mount style for integrating into a wall. You will need sufficient wall space to accommodate them. The dimensions of the of the 7" surface mount are 12.44" tall x 7.539 inch wide x 2.027 deep. You will need a space about 8" wide to place the 7" screen version. The flush mount version of the 7" screen intercom is 9.6" wide so it takes up more wall space. The 11.6" version is 13" wide for the surface-mount and 14.3" wide for the recessed mount so you will need even more space for it.
The AL1002 only comes in a 7 inch screen size. By default the AL1002 is a surface mount product. However the same unit can be flush mounted with an optional flush mount housing. However, the housing does not provide true flush mount since the intercom still sticks out approximately 1/4 inch from the wall. The width of the unit is the same for either mounting method and it is only 5.12 inches wide so it takes up less wall space. The AL1002 is 12.76 tall.
The ButterflyMX requires a dedicated AC power outlet installed nearby the outside unit to be used with the included 24-volts DC PC laptop-style power adapter. It is required that the 24-volt supply be plugged into a Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). The intercom requires clean power since it is a computer running the Windows operating system. They recommend using a minimum 600VA/300W UPS which you should be able to purchase for around $100, but they are fairly large and heavy so you need to find a place indoors to put it.
If you cannot have a power supply close to the intercom you can cut the wires on the power supply and splice a section of wire into the cord as detailed in the procedure video shown. You can hire an electrician to install a new dedicated AC outlet within 300 feet of the ButterflyMX to eliminated this splicing.
Electric Door Strike Installation
The ButterflyMX can be wired to an electric door lock for door opening. Since the intercom uses sensitive computer equipment, wiring directly to the door strike requires a separate isolation/buffer relay to prevent "inductive kickback" from damaging the built-in "Windows PC". This requires purchasing a separate device with additional wiring involved
ButterflyMX requires a minimum bandwidth of 2 Mb/s for uploading and downloading. For the best Quality of Service (QoS), it is recommended that the ButterflyMX has its own connection to the Internet. If your network has a firewall you will need to make sure can get through it. A virtual LAN can be set up to provide these requirements.
ButterflyMX Power Requirements
The power required for the ButterflyMX door station is 65 Watts . If you want to use a backup power supply on the ButterflyMX you will only get about 15 minutes of backup power on the recommended UPS.
Installation of the ButterflyMX takes a combination of skills so you may need several people. Depending on whether an AC outlet with room to place a UPS is available, an electrician may be needed. Someone with low-voltage wiring or access control experience will also be needed for the CAT-5 cable and wiring the door strike. Lastly you may need to get networking people involved to make sure Internet service with the proper QoS is available.
The AL1002 does not require a power outlet since it uses Power over Ethernet (POE). The only wire running to the intercom is a CAT-5 from a POE Ethernet switch near your Internet router. No UPS is required, however some people do use UPS equipment on their Internet router equipment for power backup purposes. Since the AL1002 power draw is less than ButterflyMX, it will not drain the UPS as quickly (see power requirements below).
Electric Door Strike Installation
Like the ButterflyMX, the AL1002 can be wired to an electric door strike, however, it does not require using a separate isolation/buffer relay so wiring is as simple as attaching two wires between the AL1002 and the door strike. AL1002 uses purpose-built hardware that runs an Android operating system designed for the intercom application. Therefore it is not as sensitive or unstable as the Windows hardware and software the ButterflyMX uses.
The Internet access requirements are the same as ButterflyMX. A reliable Internet service will be required.
The AL1002 only uses 13 Watts of power. Using an equivalent UPS, you can get 5 times longer backup power on the AL1002 than on the ButterflyMX. Of course, using less power is also more friendly to the environment.
Since no high voltage or electrician is required to install the AL1002, it can be done by anyone with the skills to put the ends on a CAT-5 cable as long good Internet service is available.
For multi-tenant properties, how simple it is to change tenant info is extremely important. Both the ButterflyMX and AL1002 allow you to change or add tenant information though an easy-to-use online web portal.
In addition to the online admin portal, the AL1002 also has an App for Apple or Android phones which enables you to make changes while mobile without having to carry a computer.
The ButterflyMX has an option for a massive 11.6 inch screen which allows more room for larger fonts. It also gives an impressive look on the building.
ButterflyMX has integrations with some property management software where it can automatically receive tenant database changes from the property management software. This eliminates the need for maintaining two databases.
If you have multiple access doors you will only have to pay for cloud service one time. ButterflyMX has a cloud-service fee for each door.
The AL1002 has a physical concierge station phone that has most of the same capabilities as the touch-screen door station. It features a built-in full-duplex handset and 7.0” touchscreen with video camera. It can be used to make and receive calls to and from tenants and the door units. ButterflyMX does not have a hardware station available, but they do have a software that requires a computer.
AL1002 has both 7 and 10 inch touchscreen video monitors that tenants can use in their apartments instead of having to use their personal smartphones or tablet PCs. You can use these for residents who don't have a smart device or a telephone. In locations like New York City that require buildings of 8 or more units to have a hard-wired system in place, these tenant stations enable this intercom to still be used. These monitors connect using a CAT-5 Ethernet cable. ButterflyMX does not have any physical hardware available for tenant stations.
When Voice Prompts are turned on in the administration the AL1002 will audibly tell the visitor what to do. Every time a button is pressed, the visitor will get verbal instructions telling them the next steps to take. This feature is not available on the ButterflyMX.
Visitor Language Options
The AL1002 displays flag icons for different countries and a user can touch their countries' flag to switch the text and voice prompts to their language. It currently supports English, Spanish, Russian, French, and German with more in the works. The AL1002 has custom buttons where you can type in the text and even these will be translated into the user's language. This feature is not available on the ButterflyMX.
Secure Door Release Relay
For secure buildings there is an external door release relay option available. This removes the door unlock capability from the intercom to somewhere inside the building, but still allows tenants to activate the electric door strike to let people in.
Relay Signal Boards
These boards have a matrix of relays that can be activated by the AL1002. The primary use for these boards is to replace an old-style push-button type door entry button panel with the touch-screen AL1002 and still be able to use the building's wired tenant stations (audio only). These signal boards can handle up to 512 apartments. The relays replace the buttons on the existing door panel and when someone selects a tenant from the directory, their relay closes to simulate a button press. We have stainless steel covers to replace the existing button panel, but the existing speaker and microphone are removed from the button panel and then mounted to this new steel cover. The AL1002 will also call the tenant's App on their smartphone, but if they pick up through their existing wired tenant station, they will not be talking through the app or AL1002, but rather through the old speaker and microphone.
This allows for upgrading old multi-tenant intercoms to newer video intercom capability with smartphone or tablet PC apps.
ButterflyMX currently recommends using a third-party card reader system even though there a card reader inside their intercom. This is said to be for future development. The AL1002 has a built in proximity card reader it supports 13.56 MHZ and 125KHZ RFID Cards.
Cloud Service Contract
ButterflyMX requires a 12-month contract for cloud services. The AL1002 has a monthly cost so you are not locked in to long contracts.
Multiple Resident Calling
The AL1002 can be set up to call multiple residents at the same time. It can call multiple apps simultaneously, and the first person to answer gets the call. It can also call multiple telephones simultaneously and the same rules apply. When both apps and telephones are involved, the telephone dialing is delayed about 20 seconds (prioritizing the app video calls) because often with cell phones, an incoming phone call will kill any data/video that the app might be utilizing.
You can assign priorities to directory entries so they appear at the top of the directory when the Directory button is pressed. You can use this to place property managers at the top of the directory for instance.
When a call comes in to the app on your smartphone you can rotate it sideways to get a larger view of the visitor at the door.
This ButterflyMX Review covered just the major differences between the ButterflyMX and the AL1002. Both systems also have a lot of the same features not mentioned here and they serve the same function. We mainly pointed out the differences between the two. You will need to decide if these differences matter to you and then choose the system that best fits your unique application.
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