"The basic hardware with low specifications is disappointing, but with a smooth app experience, Abode is a smart home platform that shouldn't be ignored."

  • Beautifully designed web and app dashboard controls

  • Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi and Abode RF connectivity

  • Support for more than 200 device integrations

  • Voice control via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant

  • Cheap, relatively weak hardware

  • Low resolution camera with blurry, smeared images

  • Inconsistent sensor connection

This year there was a revival of smart home security solutions, with August, Nest, Ring and Samsung SmartThings announcing all lines. Companies like Abode are, of course, old hands in intelligent security and sell gateways, sensors, remote key fobs and motion detection cameras after a successful Kickstarter start.

With Abode introducing a 1080p surveillance camera, door sensors, and a variety of third-party device integrations and compatibility with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, we thought it would be a good time to get the starter kit for $ 199 (originally $ 299 Dollars). You can find out how it developed in our test report for the Abode Starter Kit below.

The entire hardware range from Abode includes a comprehensive range of hardware, including a gateway alarm system, door and window sensors, motion and occupancy detectors, surveillance cameras, sockets, smoke detectors, temperature sensors and much more. The Abode Starter Kit is designed to introduce you to the ecosystem with a clear entry-level package that the bank does not break.

It contains the Abode Gateway, a relatively compact hub that serves as the heart of the security network and contains a siren with 93 decibels to deter even the bravest intruders. The gateway includes two door / window contact sensors, a motion camera and a remote control key to activate or deactivate the system with a simple push of a button.

Not a modest place of residence

The Abode Starter Kit is attractively packaged in a buff and cyan box, which describes itself as the "future of security at home". At first glance, it is certainly not a modest place to stay. The hardware itself is relatively well built, but does not quite match the premium feeling you experience with Nest or August products. The strict, modernist aesthetics of the black and white Abode Gateway will divide opinions. We're not big fans of the look of the device, which resembles a simple rectangular router from 2011 – fortunately without antennas. We were concerned about the sharp edges and sharp corners of the device. The Abode Gateway is covered with glossy acrylic, which easily takes fingerprints, stains and smudges. While it looks sharp (and literally feels that way), it also feels a little cheap.

Terry Walsh / Digital Trends

The remaining hardware that is included in the starter kit has a different build quality. The door / window sensors feel similarly weak, but the motion camera and two-tone key fob are more robust, with the latter feeling good in your hand.

Several radios connect a wide ecosystem of security devices with optional surveillance services

Perhaps the greater part of the construction costs were invested under the hood. With integrated Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, ZigBee and AbodeRF (the latter is a proprietary protocol for long-range connectivity), the Abode Gateway can be connected to a variety of sensors, intelligent sockets and controllers. Up to 155 devices can be connected. With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, you can control some of your devices with your voice. You can also enable the Alexa Guard ability to enable and disable the system.

It's good to see a number of options, and the plans themselves are easy to understand

Some third-party devices also work with Abode, including Nest Cam, Nest Protect and the Nest Learning Thermostat, Philips Hue, Amazon Echo and IFTTT. In addition to the company's own devices, the gateway also plays with hardware from Aeon, Enerwave, Fibaro, GE, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage and others.

In addition to this powerful 93 decibel siren, the Abode Gateway has a 10-hour battery backup that provides protection in the event of a power outage and an optional cellular network connection that is available for a monthly fee of $ 10.

Abode is billed as a professional security system. Therefore, it makes sense that the company also offers 24/7 professional monitoring bundled with a cellular backup for $ 30 a month. This Connect + Secure plan also includes a 90-day timeline and media storage, compared to just three days of storage available in the basic starter kit. You can decide whether professional surveillance is required for your home. However, it is good to see a number of options, and the plans themselves are easy to understand without temporary locks.

Smooth system installation with a little hiccup

As expected, installing a reasonably comprehensive security system at home is not a two-minute task, but Abode is clearly committed to making the process as smooth as possible. The gateway connects to your WLAN router via a replacement Ethernet connection. Pressing a quick button on the back of the device activates the backup battery.

From there you can configure the gateway with the free Abode app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. You need to create an Abode account and then continue the setup on your mobile device or desktop web browser.

Abode Starter Kit checking flat portsTerry Walsh / Digital Trends

Terry Walsh / Digital Trends

An activation code included in the scope of delivery identifies your gateway and is required to connect the starter kit to your account. After entering your Abode gateway will be found and activated quickly on the Internet. It's quick and easy.

Of course, you will then have the fun of installing the sensors and the camera at home. Fortunately, the Abode app guides you through the device installation with practical tips for placing and aligning the sensor. Depending on the size of your doors, windows, and frames, the sensors may be more than a little bulky. Although they increase safety, they certainly do not improve aesthetics. At the very least, they are easy to install, as double-sided adhesive strips ensure that no tools are required.

Abode clearly strives to make the installation process as smooth as possible.

The installation instructions for the motion camera was less successful. First we were asked to remove a clear plastic tab to activate the batteries, but the tab on the device could not be found. At this point we noticed that the batteries were in the box and were not installed. Not a drama, but a bit sloppy from a user experience perspective. Inserting the batteries was a quick task, but required a screwdriver to remove the back plate of the camera.

After switching on, you can try out different positions for the motion camera that takes still pictures when the integrated PIR sensor is triggered. Preview the resulting images and you're done.

A rear bracket snaps into the device for corner mounting. Adhesive strips stick to each wall to hold the camera in place. Alternatively, you can use another self-adhesive pad for the flat wall installation, which is included in the scope of delivery. While the adhesive pads are certainly practical and keep the equipment in place, we want wall anchors and screws to be supplied as a more permanent option as well. Attention tenants! The pads remove paint from the wall when removed. A stand for the camera that would allow more freedom in positioning as well as easy relocation would also be a great addition.

With the hardware set up, you can use the Abode app to grant family members and friends account access. Only two user accounts are supported in the free basic plan. However, if you sign up for one of Abode's monthly services, this restriction will be removed. A quick tour of the app and you're good to go. Allow at least 15 minutes to set up Abode, with more difficult camera positions requiring more time. Apart from this battery error in the camera, installing the Abode system was a breeze.

Simple and responsive hardware with little specification dilutes the experience

One aspect of living with Abode that we really liked was that you are not limited to monitoring the system through a mobile app. Log in to the Abode website using a desktop browser and you have full visibility and control over your home security. The system combines the convenience of controlling mobile apps with the convenience of desktop monitoring – a perfect combination.

When Abode first delivered its all-inclusive security package, it included an app for Android, which, to put it bluntly, was a first effort. Since then, Abode has been updated to version 5.0.4 and is miles better than the previous version. The first time you open the app, you will be asked for a PIN. You can also integrate your phone's fingerprint reader to bypass the lock.

As soon as you get into the app, you get access to your system status as well as quick actions and camera views via the dashboard. Quick actions allow you to create shortcuts to common tasks that prevent you from having to rummage through menus.

In the lower navigation bar you will find the most important information for the system. The timeline shows you all the events that have occurred. CUE is an automation function that we discussed in detail earlier. Your device list shows you what you have and what status you have, and all are just a tap away. Even the general app settings have been organized in a much better interface. The first edition of this app had most of what this version does, but the main difference is that they're in places that make sense. To put it cautiously, the last iteration of the app didn't quite reach this bar.

Overall, this is an important update to the software that is running your smart home security that was badly needed. The previous app relied heavily on using the in-browser interface while referring to mobile devices. You can still use the web interface, but it is much less reliant on it now. This app gives your phone a lot more control. This is the device most of us will turn to most anyway. This is a fundamental facelift for the app and the entire company.

Access Abode from a desktop browser and take advantage of an expanded range of features beautifully presented in a modern, web-based dashboard. Again, you can view a clear timeline of events and warnings, monitor and manage device status and settings, create quick actions (e.g. macros for multiple devices) and configure automatic home and away perimeters to activate the system based on or disable your smartphone location and more.

The gateway alarm was quickly triggered by the camera and was extremely loud.

On the other hand, you have to repeatedly deal with attempts to buy additional hardware or subscribe to one of the company's premium service plans. You can't blame Abode for starting a business, but once the plans are rejected at launch, these prompts really have to go away instead of popping up all the time. Overall, Abode supports a variety of monitoring and management functions that are well presented and very responsive on both mobile and desktop dashboards.

The starter kit hardware itself is a little less fancy. Images taken by the motion camera have a very low resolution (standard 320 x 240, maximum 640 x 480), which leads to blurry, smeared images that can be used to detect presence, but are not suitable for identification . Without night vision support, the camera relies on an integrated flash for pictures in the dark. The flash does a decent job of illuminating a dark room, even though the pictures are a little yellow. However, the low resolution is the main problem. You should definitely consider upgrading to Abode's newly announced 1080p indoor camera for $ 149, which offers live streaming video, triggered recording, and built-in night vision.

We also found the window / door sensors a bit spirited. While the system correctly recognized the opening of a door or window, it was far less successful in recognizing the same door or window. This caused complaints when we tried to activate the system. Abode repeatedly and incorrectly informed us that the door was open. Maybe with more time to fine-tune the positioning of the sensors, we could improve detection in both directions, but we were frustrated that the detection worked in one direction but not the other.

We had no complaints about the gateway alarm that was triggered by the camera or door window / sensor and was consistently loud. After triggering, we received a notification on the phone within seconds with practical options for notifying the police or disabling the alarm. The system responded quickly when we deactivated the alarm and the bat stopped in a few seconds.

Overall, we were pleased with Abode's simplicity and responsiveness, but as with any multi-device system, your experience will be determined to some extent by the smart home sensors and other hardware you choose to connect to. The Abode Starter Kit will certainly familiarize you with the basics, but it won't be long before you want to upgrade.

Add Alexa and other smart home devices for perfect partnerships

Of course, you can't start a smart home system these days without familiarizing yourself with a number of third-party devices. Since Google (via Nest) and Amazon both enter the smart home security game, startups like Abode have to deliver breadth, depth and quality when it comes to integration. At first glance, Abode seems to have hit the ground.

Abode's Alexa capability enables you to monitor and control the system with an Amazon Echo or other Alexa device. If you have security concerns, a verbal PIN number is used to confirm certain commands, e.g. B. deactivate the system or deactivate an alarm. In addition to core functions such as the gateway alarm, the capability supports a wide selection of commands, the control of connected locks, sockets, garage doors and configured quick actions.

We have found that Alexa integration works well. If you detect intrusion, you can verbally trigger (or disable) a panic alarm faster than when you search for your phone. It only takes a few seconds to activate the system using a voice command, and we have found that Abode is consistently very responsive.

We connected a Nest learning thermostat and were pleased to see that not only could you synchronize Abode's absence status with that of the thermostat, but that manual temperature control was also available through the Abode desktop dashboard and the mobile app. This is also not a quick and dirty implementation. In both dashboards it was clearly considered to create a simple, intuitive user interface that connects the overall design of Abode with the device to be controlled.

With a strong and flexible platform, Abode should not be ignored.

Abode has developed a strong and flexible platform that can easily serve as a control panel for many smart homes.

While the Abode Starter Kit isn't perfect, it does provide a convenient introduction to the company's smart home platform at a reasonable price. Given the Kickstarter roots, it's not surprising that the gateway hardware and sensors are a bit rough around the edges (sometimes literally), and we want second-generation devices from Abode to offer a higher feel with higher specifications and greater reliability . The cameras and sensors included in the Starter Kit don't show the Abode ecosystem as well as it should, and while the gateway works well, it won't be the prettiest or best-built device in your home.

However, if you look beyond these entry-level devices, you can see that significant investments have been made in Abode's underlying platform. The Abode app and the web dashboard are well designed and beautifully designed and support simple, intuitive control without being unnecessarily conspicuous. The third-party integrations we tested were easy to connect and worked well. This demonstrated Abode's potential as a comprehensive smart home solution that combines heating, lighting, entertainment and security.

Since large companies are now dominating the smart home market, Abode must certainly work on its hardware to continue the early dynamic. However, with a strong and flexible platform, Abode should not be ignored.

Warranty information

The Abode Starter Kit is covered by a one-year guarantee that covers material or processing defects.

Our opinion

The Abode Starter Kit offers a cost-effective introduction to the company's smart home platform. However, the included gateway, camera and sensors offer disappointing build quality and specifications. Abode's software platform, however, is simple, intuitive and can be connected to a variety of smart home devices. Abode may not be at the top of our list of smart home platform providers, but it's certainly one you should check out.

Is there a better alternative?

Before you decide to buy a Smart Home Security, you should opt for the higher-quality and more expensive Nest Secure system for $ 499 or the cheaper $ 199 ring alarm.

How long it will take?

After four years, Abode is doing an excellent job adding new features and upgrades to its platform. As a small company with installations of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands, time will tell if the company can take over the power of Nest, Amazon and other technology giants. Smart home security is reviving and there will likely be casualties. So there is a certain risk of choosing a smaller provider that may be acquired or lost in the struggle for supremacy of smart homes. However, we are currently not aware of any specific problems that would indicate that Abode will not be available in the medium term.

Should you buy it

With a variety of companies announcing security solutions for smart homes this year, Abode would not be our first choice. The platform looks good, but the starter kit hardware is clearly Kickstarter class. Be sure to check out bigger competitors like Nest, Amazon, and Netgear before you get started.

Updated July 13, 2020: Check out the updated app experience.

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