Home Security Gadgets Revisited

Hi there,
I have played with quite a number of the new security appliances that are simple and useful at home. I like how they are self-contained and don’t require contracts or monitoring other then me. But I have had a number of them and I thought it was time to to revisit and share my experience. BTW, I work in my home office, and I travel about 3 weeks a month. I have a nice lab in my office so I actively protect it using these gadgets.

ISmart
Very poor hardware and software quality. It has been recycled – and I don’t mean given to someone else. It is not good enough for that. It has likely improved but not as fast as the rest of the market has grown – and yes, I did pay more for it then any of the others. It was also the first one I bought.  Company web site.

Dropcam

DropCam has the nicest camera and also is the priciest when you look at the fact you pay per month too.  Really the best picture but the great picture means a lot of bandwidth usage is something so something to watch out for. Company web site.

Piper
I have written a bit on Piper, which has good set of features, including the ability to work with other gadgets like door or window monitors.  I have a new one that has night vision and a much better camera.  They do not have any sort of geofence and that is a real issue.  I like how in a single screen I can see inside, outside weather, humidity, motion and sound and all over a time line.  Plus it alerts me to weather alerts.  It is not a polished UI but rather it is functional.  It has an odd way of connecting which makes me thing VPN for some reason.  But it works good.  The setup for the second was quick and smooth.  I like how the UI works with two cameras nicely.  The video quality is a little better in the newer camera but clearly not as good as Canary.  Company web site.

Canary
Canary is is the most polished and easiest to make work and use.  It doesn’t support other security attachments but that is OK as I am not using them.  It has a very good camera, and very good night vision. Plus it has a geofence capability, and even some interesting air monitoring capability.  It is very polished but by designers who did not spend as much time with users as they should have!  If you get a warning, and later want to check it out I was not able to find it easily first time. It is a sweep up from bottom gesture.  Needs an event log so you can see not just alerts or air quality / temperature but also things like upgrades.  Plus the air quality monitoring is a little worrisome initially.  I seem to spend my days in very bad quality air.  Yet no smoking ever in the house, no pets, so not sure what is driving it.  It has been updated and so my air quality is now better generally. This app has so much polish you don’t notice what you are missing until you really look for it.  But I have very high hopes for it. However it has not worked out as well as I would have liked. It has been not functional, or needs a restart more then all the other security gadgets I have combined. Pus the video it records when something happens is only held free for now. The real bad news is I have three of them. I gave one to my wife to play with, and will set up the last to see how they work together but it is not as use as I thought it would be. Company web site.

SmartThings
This is more about home automation rather then security. But it does security and a whole lot more. But not really what I wanted so I donated it to my Dad. Not sure how it is going. I have a co-worker that extensively uses SmartThings and likes it a lot. So that means good things for sure about SmartThings. Company web site.

Suggestions
Home automation with security – SmartThings

Home Security – with lots of fancy, and a little extra info, and a geofence – Canary

Home Security – lots of features, plus works good with more then one device, and the ability to work with other home automation gadgets but no geofence – Piper

For now, I would say that Piper is the most useful. I sure hope they add geofence and they would get my only vote! I think that Canary has possibilities but they got lost in form and forgot that you need function first!  I use Piper (and Canary) to protect my office and I use Dropcam to provide very good backup video but I also like how it is linked to my Nest Protect too.

BTW, just in case it helps, geofence is the functionality that means when your phone leaves the house the appliance will arm itself.  With Canary all I need to do is leave the house.  But with Piper I have to remember to turn it on.  So often I turn it on when I am on the way to the airport!

Thanks for reading, and if you have questions or comments, let me know.

Update:

  • More information on geofence and its usage can be found in this.

Michael

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2 thoughts on “Home Security Gadgets Revisited

  1. Hi, Micheal,
    Great stuff here, I just want to add that the DropCam really does have excellent quality but sometimes you just need “clear enough” quality since it does use a lot of bandwidth like you said, plus the monthly subscription adds to the already heavy price tag.
    I must say that the Canary is the most beautiful and elegant system from the list you mentioned. Having something that sits inside your means that it should seamlessly integrate itself without having to be an eyesore which the Canary does so well.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Cordell, good points. Dropcam really does use a lot of bandwidth. And yes, it is expensive. Canary does look good – both as an appliance but also in software. However, extended use with it has helped me to realize I was foolded by the beauty. It gets a lot of false positives although that has seem to stop recently. I am still working with it. I must admit that Piper is not as pretty, nor does it support Geofencing, but it has not done any false positives.

      Thank you for the comments!
      Michael

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