29 May 2016

REVIEW: Smanos W020i WiFi Alarm

Alarmingly versatile.

Think home security alarm and you might picture a laboured professional installation taking a long time and costing the big bucks. But thanks to your home WiFi network you can set up a cast-iron intruder detection system yourself, and at a fraction of the cost. To do so you'll need a kit like this... We review the Smanos W020i WiFi Alarm.

At the end of 2015 we reviewed another of Smanos' security systems, the W100, which impressed us for the ease of use and the... erm... unique look of the unit itself. Fortunately the W020i has slightly more conventional aesthetics, looking just a like a regular WiFi router, or indeed a media hub. The base control unit is the kind of thing you can either proudly pop on a shelf, or just stash away out of sight. Either is fine with this system, as it is all connected wielessly and controlled via the smartphone app (for both Android and iOS).

What's in the box? Well, you get the W020 itself, which features a nicely rounded body and a conspicuous central 'nub' from which the wailing alarm sound emits. Next to that is very cool looking HD WiFi camera, which, unlike most other cams of it's class and price, is tall and thin and not squat and chunky. The camera can be mounted on the wall or just left to stand on it's flexible base. Powered by a micro USB port, the cam has a respectable 5MP Sony sensor and and Micro SD port allowing you to pop in a card (not included) to record footage.

Also included are other Smanos accessories that we've seen before with the W100; a couple of window/door contacts, and a small remote control to make changes to the alarm system without the use of your phone. Everything you'll need to affix the various sensors in place is also included. Which is always nice – aiding the whole 'straight out of the box' mentality.

Everything is (fortunately) set up and connected via the app, which is clean and user friendly. Pairing the various accessories to the base unit, and then setting their priorities via the app, reminded us of setting up the PiperZ-Wave system. We've had experience of the Smanos door contacts and motions sensors before, so we knew what to expect and how to get them up and running. What we were really keen to install was the IP6 camera, and we were happy to find that it was as simple as powering it up and searching for it through the app.

The cam itself was okay in use; and we say 'okay' to pretty all IP cameras that aren't at least 1080p. This particular unit – as handsome as it is – drops in at just 720p, which is fine for day to day viewing in good lighting conditions, but it starts to get fuzzy into the evening. Fortunately the time delay from the cam to the app (even over mobile data) was no more than a couple seconds at the very worst, and we found it to be less than that over the house WiFi. Footage that is directly saved to to the cam's SD card looks much better when played back than the streamed version (as you'd expect), which is nice to know should you ever need to record the footage. You know, if you saw some swine breaking into your home.

When triggered (and you can set up exactly how you want the system to be triggered) the Smanos W020i WiFi Alarm don't half make a racket! The brain-piercing scream comes from the base unit itself, which may influence wear you place it when initially setting it up. To fair to it, even in a huge house, the alarm can be heard in a very drastic and 'oh shit oh shit oh shit' way anywhere, so as long as it is central enough to be in range of both the accessories and the WiFi router, you'll be fine.

Exactly what triggers and sends alerts to your phone can also be altered, allowing you to tailor what disturbs you and when. We tested the system by opening a door that an armed contact had been installed upon, and after the alarm sounded almost instantly, the notification came through to the phone after just five seconds or so. This then gave us the option of quickly activating the IP camera to see what we could see; so from the door opening to being able to see through the camera took no more than 25 seconds over a 4G network.

So the Smanos W020i WiFi Alarm system is effective and versatile. We love the inclusion of the camera, and also the fact that you can add or remove accessories to the system to your heart's content (or indeed as your home changes). A decent system with a super easy set-up, and it all weighs in at a great price.

Around £170

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