My EZServe review (long) 2008-05-14T20:19:55+00:00

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  • FrayAdjacent
    Post count: 73
    #39951 |

    EZServe (1.50) Review

    First, I want to state that the EZServe is a GREAT product in it’s raw concept – a timer/controller that does not require a computer to run it’s schedules and control operations within Insteon home networking, yet can be programmed easily (relatively). It is still maturing, as far as it’s interface.

    I received the unit on Monday, 12 May, with software version 1.43. Setting up my devices (4 ToggleLinc Relays and 2 LampLincs) was only a small hurdle – I didn’t realize a push-button method could be used… so I popped off the switch plates and jotted down their addresses. Adding them was easy, however the device type pulldown is not in alphabetical order, which leaves you hunting for the correct device type. I also added my RemoteLinc, but didn’t find (and still don’t know) how to program each of the buttons, so they can be used as controllers. After some futzing, I was able to get a few areas set up – Upstairs, Downstairs, Outside and All. However, the All group kept duplicating itself in the list of areas. Then my ‘downstairs’ group was duplicated. There were also some anomalies with adding the ToggleLinc for my kitchen lights.

    I updated to 1.50 last night, and found a few additions: Creating scenes and the Holiday settings.

    Pardon the rest if it’s a little scattered… I’ll try to touch on many points I think can be improved.

    The flow of adding devices, creating areas and scenes:

    These tasks should fall under the same topic, as they do by the tabs on the left side of the page.

    – Adding devices should be simplified – Give it a name, select the type of device, and either do the tap method to discover it, or simply give it the device’s address. BAM. Done. No adding to groups or scenes just yet. Once devices are added, they should appear in a simple list with columns for their relative information (name/device type/address).

    – Scene creation – Looks nice, seems to be intuitive. Name the scene, define the controller and define the responders. I do think that on the ‘relay’ type switches, the brightness and ramp rate should be set to 100% automatically, or reflect ‘n/a’, since they can’t be set anyway. The only issue I had was one of my switches wouldn’t add to a scene.

    Oh, and under the controller selection in scene creation… what is the group field supposed to be for? (documentation needs to include this stuff)

    – Areas. Areas seem to be solely for monitoring a group of devices. Creating an Area works as is. It’s simple to do, although using checkboxes may be easier. Creating an Area should probably open a new page with a field for naming the area, and show all available devices with checkboxes. Check the ones you want in the area and save it. Done.

    Timers and Macros:

    Timers are very easy to configure. The only thing I think should be added here is the ability to trigger a scene, or even a whole area. It seems to only do devices. Of course, one can enter more schedules, but it would be more convenient to trigger a scene if a scene already contains the desired devices.

    Macros seem pretty easy, however, I need to ask, which one allows me to set a macro active between the two times, and which sets it active outside of the two times? (Time-Window+ or Time-Window-) Documentation here would be good, since macros seem to work, just defining what the settings do would be helpful. Also, like timers, it needs to be able to trigger devices, scenes and even areas.

    It might also be helpful to have a list of timers and macros on the first page of the ‘Setup Automation’ tab. Have each hyperlinked to the settings for each, and include a link for new timers and new macros. Pulldowns to view and edit a list of items is somewhat cumbersome.

    Home screen:

    It seems to me this page is for monitoring your home automation. A status page is a good starting place. My input is that it should show several things – status by area, status of all devices, and status of scenes. Perhaps a radio button at the top to select the view between devices, scenes and areas would simplify the view. It may also be easier to have clickable icons to the right of each area/scene/device to quickly see and change their status. It’s a little kludgy having to select a device, then click the off/on button at the top. The ‘status’ button is a good thing, as we would want to be able to poll status from all devices.

    Other Stuff:

    Then there’s the constant reloading. Something is reloading in the browser every 5 seconds. It doesn’t seem to cause a problem from the computer, but when I browse from my iPhone over the internet, it causes problems. I’ve read about the issue where the ‘select area’ pull down gets reset in the iPhone’s browser. I am encountering that, and I think combined with something reloading, really makes it unusable over a slow connection. I do know you guys are working on mobile pages, so I anticipate that eagerly.

    I also anticipate support for the Insteon Thermostats, since I’ll be getting a couple of those. My input would be to create a status category on the home screen so that temperatures can be monitored and adjusted easily. Timers should be configurable to set temperatures, and macros could be used to set a ‘schedule’. Or add a separate schedule page solely for thermostats that will allow the user to set times to change temperatures. Make it extensible, so that one can do either a program that repeats every day, or programs for each day, as well as a vacation setting.

    I hope my input can help make the EZServe a better product, and in turn help other customers enjoy using it as their Home Automation controller.

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