Top of Mind: The Subscription is Optional My Ass!

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fizbain32

Have you checked out Vera @ micasaverde ? I have been leaning towards Vera for my enviroanment. BUt in answer to your orginal question, yes these monthly fees are getting out of hand!

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MrMick

Yeah, I really like what Mi Casa Verde has to offer, and they claim to support Schlage's locks. I called and left a message and sent an email to them a couple of weeks ago. I haven't received a response to either query. 

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Smart Home Concepts

The Mi Casa Verde Vera does link with the Schlage locks.  Something I might recommend though is changing out the Schlage locks to Kwikset.  I think they are better looking, and they offer advanced features such as bump guard (makes it harder to pick the lock) and a motorized deadbolt.  The nice thing about the motorized deadbolt is that you can lock the door via the router or your cell phone and the door will actually lock itself.  With the Schlage, someone has to be there to manually turn the lock.  This is not very effective if you are driving to work and realized you forgot to lock the door.  The MiCasaVerde is also open source and has many add-ons such as specialized programs for Android phones and iPhones. 

If you are interested in reading my review of the Kwikset lock, check it out on my blog http://www.smarthomeconceptsshc.com/blog/

 

 

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MrMick

Thanks for the heads-up on Kwikset. I never did hear back from MiCasaVerde. I really would like to check out their product.

Mike

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Smart Home Concepts

Mike,

I am actually a MiCasaVerde Vera dealer.  I would love the opportunity to answer any questions you may have.  If you would prefer to talk to MiCasaVerde directly, I can have them contact you.  Send me an e-mail at Nathan.Harmon@smarthomeconceptsshc.com and I will personally make sure your questions get answered.

Nathan

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MrMick

Hi Nathan:

I wish our comment system sent alerts when new posts are made, but I've been periodically checking back on this one to see if there are any updates.

I did finally get in touch with MiCasaVerde and have received an eval unit. I also interviewed one of the principals there. I plan to check the controller out this Friday for a feature story I'm working on for the next issue of Maximum Tech. I'll email this message to you as well.

Mike

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Erris

There is one thing that bothers about all these monthly fees for equipment that is able to connect to the internet anyway.

The device manufacturer does not provide your internet right? So what is the charge for?

If the device can connect to the internet, then it can connect to your home network too. If it can connect to your home network, then you should be able to tell it to record any data on your home computers and you should be able to connect to watch its live feeds/adjust settings by simple internet connection to your homenetwork.

 

What I can see them charging for is if you want to use the manufacturer's servers for data storage/retrieval.  However that should be avoidable by simply buying and setting up your own domain/site. Any of the BlueHost, GoDaddies out there sell near unlimited monthly transfer ( well more than you would need for any of your device communications) for something like $7 a month - including the domain name.

And that is $7 for ALL of your devices, not $7 per device/service. They still make a profit too.

 

So charging anything more than $1/mo for controlling your termostat or viewing some video recordings or whatever is too much, when you can do it all for free by using your own home network, or for $7 (maybe een less) if you set up your own site.

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timmyw

I vote with my money, I refuse to buy any device that requires a subscription to be fully functional. I'm such a skinflint I won't even buy a game if I need to pay a subscription too (I'm looking at you WoW). Everyone wants to make money on what they sell AND charge you to use it too. I'm afraid its a trend that is here to stay because the sheeple put up with it. I just say NO.

I too looked into the Schlage system and liked what I saw, until I saw that subscription fee. I beat feet out of there so fast....

It is the only way to stop this, is to refuse to play the game their way.

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iftegod

Oh yeah, it's Apples model for revenue. Spend more get less. If any of these could be tied into my home security system and monitored for little to no additional cost, that would be worth the premium. Otherwise this is just early adopters tax for little/no benefit. Adjusting my thermostat manually is free. Turning a dead-bolt is free. I can turn the thermostat down or up for the season prior to a long trip, and not have to look at it on my cell phone. No bang for the buck. How do these companies stay in business?

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BluePhoton

I was recently looking for items described in this article.

I also came to the same conclusion as Michael - that the market seems immature and pricing models are not designed for cost-conscious customers.  There's not a compelling ROI to investing in these items, for example:

If I could remotely change my home thermometer, I may be able to save a % of my energy bills.  However, the online fees eat into any of the cost savings.  Combined with the higher initial price for the equipment, it's hard to justify.

While it's cool to be able to access and change remotely, I want some Retun on Investment (ROI) - SOMETHING - that I could use to justify to my wife..  They don't seem there yet..

BTW: It would be good if these services offered options: a hosted option with a monthly fee, or software that could be hosted on my own Windows Home Server. 

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MrMick

For what it's worth, I think Logitech's Alert plan is fairly reasonable. You can view your cameras live for free, but if you want to view previously recorded material or control the system using your PC or smartphone, you pay an additional $6.66 per month. I think $5 or $6 per month is pretty reasonable. If Schlage's plan cost that much and they had outdoor cameras as good as Logitech's, they'd have a killer value proposition.

So I'm on the lookout for other good DIY home-control/home monitoring systems to review in Maximum PC (and perhaps Maximum Tech). If you know of any systems we haven't covered, please send an email to michael_AT_maximumpc.com

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BluePhoton

BTW, my KodakPulse picture frame and Sony Dash device both have web portals, but I don't have to pay a monthly fee. (and note how I bought them). 

Vendors who charge for portals on top of premium priced hardware are really limiting themselves and their market.

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Cache

If only these companies understood that real value comes not from benefits, but perceived benefits.  Had Schlage managed to include a very general sort of alert function for free--that provides benefits.  However, they can sell a lot of people on the idea that they can keep a database of the information, or automate functions that might otherwise need to be entered/maintained manually. They could also allow for number forwarding if you're going on vacation and may be in a spotty cellular area.

In an age of internet communications, it really feels as if everyone is charging us for the same thing until it loses any intrinsic value.  Schalge charges you to remotely check on the products you already purchased, your cellular character wants to charge you for the information going back and forth, your ISP wants to charge you for data exceeding certain thresholds (dependant on region).  Companies really would be far wiser in giving us the benefit of communications, charging more for 'elite services' that provide greater automation or take over the minute details for people who simply don't want to figure out how to set all of this up.

The market is there, but it will never grow if people feel they are not getting real value in their purchases without ridiculous add-ons.  Charging me to talk to something that has that functionality built in, in my own home?  There is no value for me in that, and without built-in value the interest in a prodct goes quickly from a maybe to a solid no.  How many of us would gladly pay to use the thermostat on our air conditioner after already paying for the unit itself??  Subscriptions without any work done on the part of the vendor is simply a money sinkhole.

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sojrner

THIS is the fallout of an app-centric, digital instead of physical copied world. As the likes of itunes and netflix continue to gobble up money that we are apparently thankful to give them this trend will not stop. Once companies taste of (or hear of others tasting) the "guarranteed" profits of the dedicated subscription base they will not relinquish those monies easily. As we happily fork over $5 a month here and $20 a month there for our movie and game access and then pay (what used to be) huge amounts for base hardware only to be pilfered for "accessories" we perpetuate the attitude.

The only way that this would stop is to let our money actually walk away. Not letting our hunger for these things be driven to override reality by the asthmatic sideshow barker trying to sell us his cure-all linement. All we are doing is fueling their desire for more of our cash.

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Peanut Fox

You could go to McDonalds and spend $5 on a meal.  In 20 minutes you will have eaten the most average tasting meal you can buy.  Alternatively, you could drop a fiver for access to a huge backlog of movies and T.V. shows you're free to watch anywhere you've got web access, and do so across a multitude of platforms.  It's all you can eat for a month.  Looking at these two things, it's hard to say that Netflix isn't a value proposition.  

No, everything doesn't work out that way.  Xbox Live Gold is something that is paid for by many, and I feel it offers nothing.  For $50 a year, you get access to things that were previously free.  Voice chat, text, friends lists, playing a game online.  Oh, and there's ads!

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aviaggio

Yeah, it's all pretty stupid. Companies just expect us to pay and pay and pay and pay forever and ever. I won't do it. The days of offering a quality product at a fair price are long gone. Now it's provide a barely functional low quality product made in an Asian sweatshop and charge 3x or more what you should for it. Oh, and keep it as locked down as humanly possible so that all the suckers that were stupid enough to buy your crap are forced to keep coming back for more cause you're the only one selling compatible equipment.

I really want to get an Android smartphone. But it's so ridiculously expensive it's not even on the table. I can either buy the phone outright for $600 and then spend $60 a month for limited usage, or I can spend $200 up front and pay $80 a month for limited usage on a 2 year contract. For a PHONE. It's so utterly retarded.

If this is the way technology is heading I guess I'm going to be stuck waaaaay in the past.

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Fecal Face

"but the annual subscription fee is as welcome as a case of herpes."

Nice one. LOL

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WeMee

And people wonder why people bootleg and copy stuff. Subscription fee what subscription fee?

I am with the guy that says stay clear of the people that charge fees. And the people that say the $2 a month is ok don't take into account that if you have 5 thngs that you have to pay $2 a month for thats $10 a month pluc all the other crap you have to subscribe to.  I don't buy anything I have to subscribe to or have an internet connection to connect back to the company Cough cough starcraft cough.

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