When I first moved into my house back in 2009, the neighborhood was still brand new, and a bunch of houses were still under construction. Within the last six years, it has slowly turned into a neighborhood full of vandalism, robberies, shootings, stabbings, and other fun things.
Of course, with all this extracurricular nonsense going on, my wife and I decided to invest in a home security system pretty early on.
Our home alarm is all fine and good, but the package we got didn’t cover EVERY entry point into the house. Also, the system doesn’t have a security camera, something that’s even more of a necessity since the hoodlums have decided to break into and steal mail from our communal mailboxes.
In fact, one communal mailbox, the entire unit, was unbolted from the street and stolen entirely. Needless to say, since my house is a corner house and the communal mailbox for our block is in my yard, I jumped at the chance to review a home security that had a security camera.
I’ve researched a few options for security systems, and as far as the camera goes, you either need one that connects to a hard drive so you can go back and review footage, or you have one that provides a live feed in realtime. Smanos’ IP6 WiFi camera can offer you the best of both worlds (to a degree).
When you add an IP6 to your existing W020 alarm system (more on this later), you have a live feed of anything your camera can see on your phone anytime you want. Now here’s where Smanos’ system differs from a security system from, say, a convenience store. Instead of having a dedicated system hooked up to its own monitor, Smanos wants you to be able to monitor your home or office or whatever on your mobile device. You may not need to always have a running feed at all times, and with the IP6 camera, you can pop into the app to check your feed whenever you feel like it, and go about your day when you’re done.
The IP6 camera has an industrial grade SONY image sensor with a wide angle lens. Even mounted to my office window, I can see a huge portion of my street corner, and it’s a fairly clean image as well (none of that choppy, grainy stuff you see on security cams).
It outputs video up to 720p (make sure you have a beefy WiFi signal for that, and even in lower light conditions, you get a surprisingly sharp image. I wouldn’t necessarily call it night vision capable (since the area where I mounted it has a porch light), but it comes really darn close.
I would argue unless you mount it in an area that has no lights whatsoever, not even the odd streetlight poking through, then you should be able to get a nice, clear image in the dark.
One nice feature of the IP6 camera is the two way microphone, designed to let you speak to others via your phone. I found a nice use for this by speaking to the UPS/FedEx guy if I currently have my hands full of screaming toddler inside the house. It also makes for some pretty interesting moments when a stranger is at your door (which in my neighborhood’s case, could mean bad things).
A quick “Hey, can I help you?” works wonders when someone thinks there’s no one home. On that note, it also works great with getting solicitors to leave. I know this from experience.
The only negative I have to say about the IP6 is that connecting to your existing router was a pain. The process was simple enough; it was as easy as pairing it with your network via the IP6 app, but for some reason, it took me a LOT of attempts to finally get it to work.
I have a pretty decent network at home, so I assume that isn’t the issue…though I certainly won’t 100% rule it out. I had to try a bunch of times in a bunch of different locations before it finally connected. After that, I had no issues no matter where I moved it.
The IP6 works at its absolute best when paired with a W020 WiFi security system. The W020 is what turns the IP6 from a simple camera to an integral part of a full blown security system.
It’s a WiFi enabled “hub” if you will, that can connect all your compatible devices, be controlled via a smartphone app just like the IP6, and also emits the actual alarm sounds when a sensor is tripped. The package I was sent came with two set of door/windows contacts.
My existing home security system allows me to communicate directly through the panel’s speaker in the event of an alarm going off. Also, when a certain amount of time has passed with an active alarm, a call will immediately be made to the authorities.
If I’m home and there’s a fire or a break in, I can also communicate with the police, fire dept. and 911 through the panel via one button press. The reason why I mention all this is show that even though the W020 is a nice system with a large variety of add-ons, it probably won’t be taking the place of an actual in home system. Something like the W020 and IP6 are best for people with 1) an existing home system that want to add an additional layer of security and features, or 2) those who cannot afford the monthly costs of an ADT or Monotronics service, but still want the piece of mind of knowing you have SOMETHING protecting your home.
The W020 is small and doesn’t stick out. It’s about the size of an Apple TV unit, and has a blinking green light on top. I literally plugged mine into an outlet in the dining room (a nice, central location downstairs), shoved it into a bookshelf where no one could see it, and proceeded with setting it up.
Setting the W020 up was extremely simple. Just follow the directions on the app, and it will walk you through connecting the W020 to your existing home network. Total setup time took about 5 minutes. Toss in the additional time to connect the IP6 camera, and I was looking at a grand total of 15 minutes.
After my W020 and IP6 system was all set up, the only thing left to do was to break into my own house to test it out. All my doors and windows downstairs have existing sensors except for two places; the windows at the very front of the house, and the large dining room window.
The reasoning that the ADT guy gave me was that hooligans generally don’t break in through the front windows since it’s a bit too blatant, and my dining room window involved climbing over a fence. Still, with the rabble I have to deal with in my neighborhood, I’d rather have ALL entry point covered. Since I can’t rig all my entry points with booby traps, I would have to settle for the two sets of door/window sensors that were provided.
The first step was to arm the alarm. This was easily done either through the mobile app, or via the key fob that comes with the W020. Once the system was armed, I cracked open one of the windows that had the sensor, and the W020 started shrieking.
Make no mistake, though the W020 unit may be small, the sound it emits is LOUD. I would be pretty surprised if any intruder could be startled by that sound and continue about their thieving ways. In fact, the sound was so loud, a bunch of my neighbors were alerted, which is a good sign.
The Smanos W020 and IP6 can be purchased in a combo pack from retailers like Fry’s, Newegg, or Home Depot for $240 (Home Depot has it for the lowest price, $219). The W020 and IP6 on their own will run approximately $130 each, depending on the retailer, so it would definitely be in your favor to purchase the combo. Really, $240 for an additional layer of security in your home, especially if you don’t have an existing security system and don’t fancy paying $80+ a month to have one, is a no brainer.