Access Control

Signo or Architect: Which Reader’s Right for Your Access Control Needs?

HID Signo reader or STiD Architect reader


When you think of access control, two brands that instantly spring to mind are HID Global and STid Security.

Why is that?

Both have an impressive array of products in the access control space and are renowned for innovation and quality.

We’ve decided to take a deeper dive into their card reader offerings and why they are in high demand.

We’re going to be focusing solely on HID and STid’s most popular reader ranges: the HID Signo and the STid Architect.

We’ll discuss how they size up in terms of:

  • Operating frequency
  • Compatibility
  • Design
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Durability

Who better to conduct the review than our very own access control specialist, Peter Walsh.

Let’s begin.

A quick intro

HID and STid are two leading access control brands globally.

Both companies sell a range of access card readers, but they’re far from identical twins.

A variety of HID Signo card readers

HID holds the throne

It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of HID in the access control space. Founded in 1991 and now part of the Assa Abloy family, HID access control card readers have continually developed, with the new Signo™ models the latest to hit the market.

STid is gaining traction

Founded in 1996, STid is growing fast and becoming a favourite in the access control space. STid access card readers include a variety of different models, with the Architect® range taking centre stage.


Variety of STiD Architect card readers

Both check the essential boxes…

  • Usability – Users tap their cards against readers to gain access to the building.
  • Durability – Readers are IP65 rated and can work in the harshest of environments.
  • Versatility – Both readers support a range of different credential technologies.
  • Future-Proof – Both offer mobile access capabilities for the modern workplace.

…but take different approaches.

HID Signo and STid Architect readers have similar functionality but have minor differences that need to be taken into consideration.

The differences may be subtle but are worth noting.

Now let’s dive right into the readers’ features.

Quote about HID Signo and STiD Architect

Operating frequency: Higher or lower?

Both the HID Signo and the STid Architect offer users a choice of frequency and credentials every time. Compatible with low-frequency 125 kHz prox cards and high-frequency 13.56 MHz access cards, both deliver a winning solution.

Whilst on topic, it’s important to note that HID offers a high-frequency reader only in the form of the Signo 20 T2 High-Frequency reader.

In terms of chip-compatible technologies, HID Signo readers support the following:

  • Seos
  • iCLASS SE®
  • iCLASS SR®
  • iCLASS®
  • MIFARE Classic
  • Mobile Credentials powered by Seos (HID Mobile Access).

Now for STid. STid Architect readers will work with these chip technologies:

  • RFID MIFARE Ultralight® & Ultralight® C
  • MIFARE® Classic & Classic EV1
  • MIFARE Plus® & Plus® EV1
  • MIFARE® DESFire® 256, EV1, EV2 & EV3
  • NFC (HCE)
  • CPS3
  • iCLASS™** (CSN only. Our readers only read the serial number/UID of the iCLASS™ ISO14443A chip. They do not read HID Global’s iCLASS™ cryptographic protections)
  • PicoPass® (CSN only)
  • STid Mobile ID® virtual cards (Bluetooth® version)
  • Orange Pack ID

Design: Sleek vs customised

HID Signo readers provide a sleek, professional look.

For us, the big difference between Signo readers compared to the iClass SE range is the new sleek, innovative design to suit modern architecture.

Having installed a few myself, the readers are lightweight, durable and carry a real professional look.

A card canning HID Signo card reader for access control

STid Architect readers support a custom design.

Architect readers have a compact, modern design featuring clean, pure lines. These readers have a set of multi-coloured, high-intensity LEDs, making them elegant for day or night.

STid Architect readers come with a range of customisation options to tailor your reader to your corporate identity and integrate it into its installation environment.

One thing I personally love about the Architect range is the small footprint of the readers. This makes them perfect for door frames and narrow electrical junction boxes, making the installation quick and easy.

The variety of colours the STiD Architect reader comes in.

Security: Encryption, privacy and more

HID Signo provides secure access control for almost any scenario.

HID Signo readers take a multi-layered approach, with HID labelling their Signo readers as offering unparalleled security. These readers ensure data authenticity and complete data privacy.

Security features include:

  • Advanced Seos® technology supported by default
  • Patented velocity checking feature to protect against brute force attacks
  • Secret keys and cryptographic calculations are handled by a certified Secure Element

“Upgrading to HID Signo enables building owners to future-proof their security systems like never before, ensuring they are equipped with truly dynamic tools to counter new threats or implement enhancements needed for tomorrow. HID Signo readers are designed to transcend the traditional approach of securing doors by being connected and managed in a modern, distributed ecosystem. This functionality empowers access control systems to dynamically respond as new needs, configurations, or threats arise.”

Source – HID Signo brochure

STid Architect welcomes you to high security.

STid Architect readers support a patented tamper-protection system, with STid labelling their readers as high-security readers. The main security features include:

  • Patented tamper-protection system to prevent the system from being outsmarted
  • Accelerometer-based technology that guards sensitive data
  • Users can delete authentication keys if needed

“Vandal-proof and extremely scalable, the Architect® card reader is specially designed for all your high-security access control applications.”

Source – STid Architect Modular Reader Datasheet

Compatibility: Ready for mobile?

HID Signo is mobile-ready by default.

All HID Signo readers are compatible with cards, smartphones, and mobile devices, enabling HID mobile access control.

STid Architect lets you choose.

Within the STid Architect range, there is a standard card-only range compatible with cards.

When upgraded to add Bluetooth, Bluetooth-enabled readers are compatible with access cards, smartphones and mobile devices.

HID and STiD access control quality

Made for any environment

HID Signo readers meet every need and adapt to any situation.

HID Signo readers support a robust outdoor performance with IP65 rating. These readers are highly durable, so can withstand harsh conditions such as temperature changes or water exposure.

STid Architect readers are made to stand the test of time.

The tamper-proof housing of STid Architect readers makes them robust in harsh environments. Architect readers are IP65 rated, and the electronics are protected from environmental conditions like water or dust, making them perfect for environments prone to harsh conditions.

So, which reader is right for you?
Both the HID Signo and STid Architect ranges are excellent choices for your access control system.

The access control card reader you decide to go for depends entirely on your requirements. Here’s a quick recap:

An HID Signo reader is a great choice for high-traffic environments. Signo readers are durable, have a long lifespan and deliver a sleek, professional look.

STid Architect readers are also durable, but their strength lies in their customisation features. Architect readers can easily be customised to add your company logo, branding, or absolutely anything else, allowing you to fully integrate readers into their operating environment.

Both ranges are compatible with most access control systems on the market today, so users shouldn’t have any trouble installing them at their facility.

Both ranges also support mobile access control, improving user convenience and launching organisations into the mobile-first world.


I hope this post has given you an insight into why the STid Architect and HID Signo access readers are, in my opinion, the best in the industry.

For those leaning towards HID, take a look at the HID Signo 20 Reader with pigtail connection.

If STid’s offering looks like a better fit, then the Architect Modular MIFARE & DESFire reader is a popular choice.

Please remember that when choosing the right access control reader for your requirements, security, performance and aesthetics should all be considered, along with both short and long-term goals.