On the surface, Insteon beats out X10 technology in all areas, which is exactly what the folks at Smartlabs had in mind when designing the next level of home automation systems. Insteon is perfect for those who have ever had trouble with X10 signal reception.
It uses a "Dual Mesh" communications protocol to send information, which includes a similar signal sent over the powerlines as X10, OR a radio signal sent out. Every Insteon unit (wall switch, plug in unit, etc.) relays the transmissions at exactly the same time, so the signal is sure to get through. Essentially, adding Insteon devices to your set-up will increase the signal levels.
In addition to the repeater function of each unit, there is also a "received command" function sent back to the initiating controller, so that missed transmissions get resent if the intended receiver didn't get the command.
Signal propagation for the Insteon protocol is also much faster than the x10 burst.
The makers of Insteon set out directly to go after the X10 market, and realizing that many users had already invested quite a bit of money into their systems, enabled many Insteon products to work in X10 mode. This is exactly how the author uses his KeyPadLincs and ToggleLincs.
When the user gets more comfortable using Insteon in the actual Insteon mode, a technology bridge can be purchased to translate certain X10 commands to Insteon and vice versa.
Insteon devices are also capable of over 16 million different address locations as compared to X10's 256.
With improved speed comes increased price. While in today's market you can pick up x10 lamp modules for a little more than $6 each (if you know where to look), Insteon modules remain priced extremely high at around $30 each.
Additionally, in chatting to other users who have completely switched to Insteon from x10, This Automated House has discovered that the system is very complicated to set up. Each wall switch can also be a transmitter for setting up scene lighting, but it's somewhat overwhelming in configuring the system to do so. Users have also noted that the software is not for "the faint at heart".
And finally, the number of devices available for an Insteon system isn't quite that of what X10's offering is, although Smartlabs continues to develop more and more offerings, while X10's R&D has stagnated over the years.
review by: Brian Vance
TAH Review 1(poor) to 5 (great)
Price -------------------------------- 2
Ease of use------------------------- 3
Communication quality----------- 5 (Depending on the scope of
Over all Quality-------------------- 4
Availability of device types------ 3 (but improving)