In a recent Verizon Wireless Smart Store Grand Opening, I fell in love with the home monitoring and controls area! I’m always fascinated by new gadgets and tech so I was intrigued with their new items like smart door locks, wireless thermostats, remote garage openers, and more!
In addition to all of that, there’s Canary, an all-in-one security system that puts home protection in your hands – literally! So I was giddy to learn that Verizon would send me a unit to test out. Here are my thoughts…
How it works
The premise is simple. You get notifications via the Canary app (iPhone or Android) anytime the system is armed and the Canary captures activity via its camera (a 1080p HD wide-angle 147 degree lens that looks awesome both during the day and at night by the way).
You then have the option to check the video the Canary recorded of said activity and either sound the alarm (with its high quality 90+ dB siren), say everything is okay, or call the police.
This is why I call it a Do It Yourself (DIY) security system…you do all the work! 🙂
One of the reasons I wanted something like this was to see what my cat does during the day but for the 3 weeks I had it, she was completely MIA – like she knew the camera was there! LOL
Oh and yeah, the other reason was to see if this would be a viable option to replace the traditional security system.
In general, I loved the idea of being able to view videos of what’s happening in my house when I’m not there.
Setup was nothing but plugging up the device, installation via Internet connection was seamless, and it looks beautiful to beat. I give Canary a 5 out of 5 for design!
The app itself is clean and designed very well AND easy to use, which is what I think will please a lot of people! I do not care for apps whose interfaces are ugly or difficult to navigate so this is a win in my book!
For the system monitoring, it has 3 modes – Armed, Disarmed and Privacy.
- Armed mode sends push notifications to your phone anytime there is motion or activity.
- Disarmed mode is used for times when you’re home and still want motion activity but not alerts.
- Privacy mode simply halts recording but you can still view camera feeds from within the app on your phone.
The unit itself is $249. Then, you get access to events from the last 12 hours and up to five bookmarked videos on the Canary Cloud for free or you can upgrade to one of the premium plans for more storage, unlimited downloads, and more starting at $9.99/month.
Trying to Get Smart
At first, I was annoyed because there were too many false positives. But my annoyance was due to my impatience in not letting the app “learn” what’s a threat and what’s not.
As I mentioned earlier, when you get an alert, you can “tag” that event as “Everything is fine” or “Sound the siren.” As you do this, Canary should get better at identifying when an activity is cause for alarm. So this ensures that your pets, spouse, roommate, kids, etc. are not constantly setting off alerts. However, I hear it takes a long while before it smartens up which leaves you with a lot of false positives in the beginning.
The Canary also comes with air quality, temperature, and humidity monitoring, but I didn’t really delve into that feature except to take a glance at it every now and then.
Yay or Nay?
That depends. Of course, right?! It’s a very cool system that’s considered inexpensive (in comparison to setup fees, contracts, and monthly plans of traditional systems), portable (can be taken with you if you move), and gives you some peace of mind knowing you have videos of events happening inside your home when needed. Per Canary’s blog, “Real security is about more than sensors and sirens; it’s about having access to information in real-time, all the time.” I agree.
For me, I’d pass for now as a full monitoring system only because, as a DIY option, I don’t want to have to rely on a phone notification to tell me when something’s going on (although you can have backup contacts). I don’t always check my notifications at the moment they go off so what if I miss when a burglar is actually in the house? Or what if I silenced my phone and don’t hear the notifications or am just simply busy and didn’t get to them? The burglar could be long gone before I even get a chance to sound the alarm or call the police. You do have the recorded video to give to the authorities though so that’s something I guess.
Canary has a LOT of potential! I just want to a few more bugs cleaned up (in terms of limiting false positives) and answers before I purchase for the whole house.
I also have questions that maybe the Canary team or other Canary users can answer…
UPDATE: Canary answers my questions! And very quickly I might add. 🙂 Answers in blue below.
- What happens if you want to invite your teens to the account so that it detects when they leave and enter the house but you don’t want to give them access to make decisions (dismiss alerts, etc.)? You can invite any other users (friends, family etc.) to use your app, there isn’t any benefit or disabling feature that someone would take advantage of. The device is either on or not. If a teen didn’t want to be seen coming in/out of the house, they could simply unplug it or put a post-it note over the lens. Inviting them to use the app would give them access to view the camera and sound the siren if needed. It isn’t like Verizon FamilyBase where a teen can take off phone restrictions placed on them.
- Say Mom comes to visit for 2 weeks. Can you give people temporary access and how would that work if she too has Canary at her own home? Yes, you can add members to your Canary. To do so, click Canary, Menu, Settings, Members, Add Member. When she leaves, you can remove her from the app.
- What happens if the power is out or Wifi has been disconnected (either by a burglar or a storm)? Does the device have a way to let you know it’s not in use? The Canary runs on AC power; it does not have a battery backup. It also needs to be connected to your home network so you can view the images using the app.
- What if you own multiple properties and want to install Canarys in different locations? Can you monitor them all with one account (being that I’ve only seen only 4 slots for devices)? You can add a Canary at a different location through your same app. Only one account is needed.
Who would this type of system be great for? If you are unable to get a traditional monitoring system in your place, or maybe you’re renting, or simply don’t want to pay the expense of higher costs systems, then this is for you. It’s also a great option in addition to perimeter traditional monitoring (windows and doors) if you want the added benefit of having recordings of what’s happening inside your home.
What do you think of the Canary All-In-One Security system? Would you try this type of monitoring? Why or why not?
Disclaimer: I received the Canary device from Verizon Wireless to test out and review. However, you guys already know how I roll. My thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by how I received the device. Let me know if you have any questions!