COG-1000 Product Review

Note: Beginning June 2012 the COG programmer has been updated to work on either 125-kHz Prox OR 13.56MHz Mifare. The unit is available in either configuration and is specified to a single technology. The reloadable tokens system has been replaced with new COG units shipping with 10,000 pre-loaded tokens, when depleted the unit can be  kept as a card reader or refreshed with an additional 10,000 tokens. Adjustments to the review have been updated below.

Overview

Farpointe Data’s COG-1000 Cards on the Go is the solution for in-the-field programming of proximity and mifare badges. Designed to verify and program credentials on either 125-kHz or 13.56-MHz technologies, and compatible with Pyramid, HID, AWID and Mifare this device is built for on-demand issuance of proximity and contactless credentials. It is a useful tool for instantly verifying and producing credentials on an access control equipped site.

Read the full product review below.

The Unit

One of the most notable features of the COG-1000 is that it is small and lightweight. Slightly larger than a smartphone (4.3×3.1x.95 inches, 8oz.) the COG-1000 is extremely portable and manageable.  The COG uses a single included USB cable for both data transmission and power supply. Most comparable devices on the market require an external power supply and antenna; giving the COG and edge for in-the-field use with a laptop.

Included in the box is one COG-1000 proximity card programmer, one USB to mini-USB cable, a Cards on the Go installation disk and 10,000 pre-loaded programming tokens. The programmer has a one-year limited hardware warranty. This package retails for $995.00

Installation

Installation is straightforward and simple. Insert the included software CD and let it run a standard install wizard. From there you can plug the device in to a USB port and begin your credentialing. This device supports Universal Plug and Play, so there is no need to select a COM port or baud rate, as is required on serial programmers. Once the driver is installed during the setup process, the device indicates the hardware connection and power via an audible beep and the LED indicator on the face of the unit. The entire install process took less than 5 minutes.

Cards on the Go Software

The first screen that you will come to after install is the login screen. We would strongly recommend setting up an admin user and password with this device, keeping the device ‘locked’ to a user and password to prevent unauthorized credential duplication.

From there you will be presented with the main “Activities” page. This is the launching point for beginning a credentialing project. From here you can add programming tokens, verify information on existing credentials, and create customized proximity and mifare cards.

Begin by ensuring that enough tokens are loaded on the programmer to run the batch of cards queu

ed. Each card produced uses one token, the COG-1000 comes preloaded with enough tokens to program 10,000 cards. If additional tokens are required the unit can be returned to for a recharge of an additional 10,000 tokens

Verifying credentials is useful component of this programmer, as it can read the format, facility code and ID number on Farpointe, HID or AWID prox cards. Open the “Verify Credentials” section then present the card to be scanned and the information will appear within 1-2 seconds.

The Meat and Potatoes of the programmer and software of course is producing custom programmed prox cards. From the main activities screen select the type of credential to be programmed, which will lead to the data entry screen.

A handy feature allows the user to identify a project name which will save the programming information and card sequence for later use without having to reenter the same information or worry about duplicating card ranges.

Once programming information is entered you advance to the setup screen which specifies the number of cards to be run. The COG-1000 includes a simple print utility that will print the ID sequences on a label printer.

The final screen provides a description of the programming job and will begin production with the click of the ‘program’ button.

The overall process is simple and straight forward and once a user is familiar with the software can be completed quickly and easily.

Using COG

During our testing we were able to verify the credentials on each HID and farpointe prox card we presented. We were able to take one of our programmed badges, scan the identifying information, and produce a duplicate card which worked with our access control system in less than 30 seconds.

While the software can handle a large ID sequence we found it best to only present 2-3 cards at a time for programming. When doing batches the programmer will give an audible beep when a card is successfully programmed, and the programming rate ran about 1-2 seconds per card.

We also found that the read range was higher than any comparable device we’ve used. We were able to scan the credential information off a 125-kHz card from about 5 inches away.

Verdict

The clean interface and simple design makes the COG system for small batch processing of access control cards, on-site programming for access control installs, or in-house badge production.

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