Published on November 9th, 2013 | by Greg

iSmart Alarm: Home Security In A Box

Your safety is something you cannot take for granted. But neither can the average apartment dweller turn their complex into a gated fortress. Most homeowners also don’t want to install a moat, and we’re pretty sure the city planning commission might take issue with it as well. Less expensive than a guard dog, and certainly easier to install than most systems, new consumer-friendly options have started coming onto the market. A natural extension of home automation technologies, they offer tech-savvy folks with existing wireless networks a nearly plug-and-play option.

We’ve been testing out one of the newest, the iSmart Alarm, and their Premium Package. Originally a successful Indiegogo campaign, they now have two basic setups available, along with a variety of add-ons to complete your whole-home setup. The kit we received included:

  • 1 CubeOne, the heart of the system
  • 1 iCamera
  • 2 Door/Window Sensors
  • 1 Motion Sensor
  • 2 Remote Tags

The overarching idea behind the iSmart Alarm is taking existing technology and allowing you to control it all with your smartphone, for maximum ease-of-use. We primarily tested with iOS devices, though Android support is available now as well. Each component wirelessly communicates with the CubeOne, the base station which also serves as the very loud siren (110 decibels), that you can test or set off in an emergency using a simple press of the remote keyfobs that also serve as the lock/disarm method for the system. In the most interesting twist, the keyfobs can also serve as tags, allowing you to track kids or pets. We did find ourselves accidentally triggering the system though due to the design of the buttons.

The door/window sensors attach easily using the adhesive backing, and are battery-powered, with a rated battery life of 12-18 months. The motion sensor is also battery powered (AAAs), unlike most we’ve seen, and can trigger an alarm if someone or something moves within 30 feet. Of course, as with most similar sensors, you want to make sure you set it up primarily during vacations in hallways or closed rooms, since shadows, pets, or even changing lighting conditions can trigger false alarms. The included mounting options were not great, but it’s easy enough to set the unit on a shelf.

Let’s look at the camera a bit- it’s of the rotating pan/tilt variety, so you can actually get a near-360 degree view of a room, and control it from your phone or tablet. You can set up automatic alerts and have the camera send pictures, or even take them manually at any time. There is a bit of a delay though, which also goes for other alerts (around a minute in some cases). Also, image quality is only so-so, and depends a bit on your internet access and bandwidth. As you might expect, in the case of power loss or internet loss, this system (unlike more advanced and much more expensive systems) cannot operate. Finally, in perhaps the most troubling missing piece, you cannot connect multiple cameras at this time. According to the company, they would like to support this feature at some point, but at the moment you need a separate CubeOne for each camera.

Thankfully, there is no subscription required and no monthly fees, unlike many other competitors (such as the Lowes IRIS system which we’ve reviewed in the past). The iSmart Alarm won’t automatically contact authorities, but doesn’t require cabling or a degree in computer science. The app is good and getting better, and there is every indication that the company is attempting to add new features and capabilities (water sensors, smoke alarms to name a couple). It isn’t perfect, but you get quite a bit for your money, and it’s one of the least expensive ways to add some security to your home, condo, or rental. The deluxe set is available now directly from the company with the camera for $349, or via Amazon for the smaller no-camera Preferred package at $199.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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