Current testing methodology is v1.2
January 17, 2018
13.5 x 9.7 x 4.5 in
After five years (Gen 1), does the Abode security system live up to the hype?
Best Smart Security System
It was April of 2017 when I first bought the first Abode Gen 1 smart security system for my house. I was traveling a ridiculous amount and with a wife and two young kids at home, I wanted to ensure that everything was okay at all times.
A little peace of mind goes a long way. I was especially keen on getting something that was non-destructive.
While I own my house, I didn’t want to be cutting holes and running ethernet cables here, there, and everywhere. My house, when it was built many years ago, was actually wired for a security system.
Abode Smart Security Kit
Astonishing battery life and solid performance for a smart security system
I was an early adopter of the Abode Gen 1 Smart Security System. The first year or two were a little frustrating as features took a long time to come. But now, after 5 years I have nothing but awesome things to say. Solid battery performance, solid device performance and a first class smart home automation system. It’s so good I forget it’s there as it just does everything, automates everything, protects everything without fail.
- Multi Sensor : Motion Detection at 120° – Light Detection – Temperature & Humidity Reading
- Motion Sensor: 110° field of view and 35 feet of detection range
- Key Fob: Works up to 100 feet from the gateway – Easily pair new fobs to your system
- Keypad: Set up to 40 unique PIN codes and a duress code to alert all users on your system
- Mini Door/Window Sensor: Completely wireless – Works with a gap of up to 0.75″ – Battery life of up to 4 years (replaceable)
- Cam: WiFi Connected – Full-Color Night Vision – Weatherproof – Person, Package & Pet Detection-
What’s in the Box?
- Mini door/window sensor
- Motion sensor
Stuff I like
- Best-in-class smart home automation functions
- Excellent battery life
- Responsive motion sensor
- Excellent Alexa integration
- Easy to use app with geolocation activation/deactivation
- Has a SIM card backup
- Still going strong after 5 year. What can you say?
Stuff I like less
- The Gen 1 camera was a bit rubbish. Still works but the newer model is definitely more attractive.
Where to get it
Comparable products to consider
Popular unit that doesn’t have the same offline capabilities and smart home formats of the Abode system but still an affordable option with excellent features.
But I’m a bit loathe to connect one because I feel like it’s such a big commitment these days to have all of those wires and hard-wire units in your house.
Because the security system was really a nice-to-have, not a must-have based on the area that we live in being really quite safe, I was quite happy to go with something that was new and innovative and see how it went before perhaps I had to resort to a more traditional-wired system.
So after over five years with this unit, how’s it performing? Well, it’s important to note that I still have the Gen 1 system and they obviously have the Gen 2 system and the iota system. And the company went from being a startup, getting funded on Techstarter to being bought by Nice, a company in Italy.
When the unit arrived, I was very pleased with the build quality and after finally setting it up, it really was quite quick and easy to get going. This was really early days for smart security systems, so Abode was really kind of breaking new ground in many ways.
There were a lot of smart home components, lights, smart things, hubs, and similar, but in terms of security systems, this was really one of the early ones that really proved itself to be effective.
The Reddit forum that I became a member of was relatively active and we were all excited about this new generation of security systems. Because it was a startup, we knew we were taking a risk but there were a lot of features that took a long time to come through.
Things like automation flows and small things like that began to frustrate the Abode community, to no end. But when they did eventually ship those features in the software, they really were first class.
How’s the hardware holding up?
I still believe that Abode’s automation functions outclass most of any of the other smart home systems that I have used. And at the time even smart things just did not have such a nice and easy-to-use automation system. Abode now calls that automation system CUE, and I continue to use it with great enthusiasm to date.
The hardware is holding up incredibly well. There are a couple of things that have not gone so well. One of those is that the built-in battery seems to be giving new warnings that it has given up the ghost, so if we lose power to the device, there is a good chance that it will die. Again, this isn’t mission-critical for me, so I’m not too worried about that and it’s pretty rare that we ever get a power cut in my area.
The original camera that’s sold with the unit is a bit rubbish and doesn’t work so well now. If there is an alarm trigger, it does capture a video event but when I go to preview the camera in live mode, I just get a blank screen. I’m sure I could contact support about this and I probably should, I’ve just been a little bit busy.
Their support in the early days was slow and a little bit behind, but these days they seem to be a lot more on top of things. That’s probably due to the benefit of having more investor funds to get things cranking.
The battery life on these things is astonishing. In fact, none of the door sensors that I have, have required a battery change. This is incredibly impressive also by the fact that I live by the ocean and there’s generally a lot of salt oxidization on electronic terminals.
But the Abode door and window sensors are holding up without a battery change, five years on. I think there are very few systems you could say have such longevity as this.
The units that require a lot more activity such as the motion sensor that I have in the kitchen, as well as the door motion sensor camera that I have, do require battery changes from time to time but that is quite infrequent. And, Abode tells me when this needs to happen.
The front door motion camera is especially easy as it’s just an AA battery. The motion sensor I use frequently to slowly turn the lights on in the kitchen area if I come out in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, automatically turns on a very dim light that allows me to see enough of what I’m doing. And when I walk out of the kitchen and go back to bed, the lights will automatically turn off after a few seconds.
So the motion sensor definitely does get more action than any other unit in the house.
The integration with Alexa is excellent and to the point where I will generally use Alexa for a lot of flows and actions that tie in different parts of the system. While the core CUE automation flow engine that I use in Abode is much more developed for basic things, I can use Alexa for many things. I can also control all the devices on Abode with Alexa and also check if doors are locked, windows are closed, etc.
If I was more serious, I probably would’ve leveled up to the new Abode camera that launched recently and even the model before that. I have a Ring system as well around the house, which really takes care of my camera needs.
So Abode really just takes quick care of home automation in the house to control devices and just to give me a status check on doors and windows as well as my outdoor shed which I fixed a door sensor so I know if anyone’s getting into that or if I’ve left it open at the end of the day.
The smartphone app
The app is very intuitive and easy to use and had a full remake last year. It’s really also one of the better thought-out apps that I have used for smart home and security technology.
You can control all your devices, and any bulbs or lights that are connected through the hub, are able to be adjusted verbally with a smart speaker or using the app, such as the temperature on lights, the brightness on lights, and things of that nature.
The other thing I loved about the hub then, which I still do is that it had its own RF frequency for the security system, meaning that it wasn’t prone to hacking in the same way that a Zigbee or Z-Wave device might be.
Although now that would be not the case with security improving over time.
My general concern is that you could operate the Abode system offline completely and it would still function as a security system. Because of its own in-built RF frequencies, if you open a door and there is no power to the unit, then the battery will kick in and the sensors will still work.
I’m not sure if that’s true for me seeing as my battery’s been giving me error warnings, but it is a five-plus-year Gen 1 device, so I’m actually kind of okay with that.
The unit also has a SIM card backup if you wanna connect it to a network so that the back-to-base monitoring can work.
Back-to-base monitoring is something that I’ve never worked with for Abode, but I’m sure that if I had the need, I could connect it up. To be true, I’m not really using a lot of the functions of the Abode smart security system as I could be. I could have back-to-base, I could have more cameras operating, and I could do a lot of things.
The bottom line is the Abode system has been rock solid for over five years!
A couple of minor hardware issues have not affected its operability.
It’s an astonishing piece of hardware that has continued to make me smile after all of these years.
Questions? Fire away in the comments below.
Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.
Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.
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