FrontPoint primarily targets the do-it-yourself crowd, but will connect you with a professional installer if you’d prefer to pay someone else to hook everything up. Our review is based on self-installation using similar components to what ADT and Vivint include in their package deals. Thanks to FrontPoint’s excellent documentation and telephone support (needed only for system activation), we had the entire system installed in less than 30 minutes.
APX Alarm Security Solutions, armed with a hefty new investment from Goldman Sachs, relaunched itself as Vivint in early 2011 and embarked on a major push into the home-control market. Thanks to leading-edge technology and extremely aggressive prices—the company heavily subsidizes its customers’ equipment purchases in exchange for longer-than-typical 42-month service contracts—we think Vivint has become the company to beat.
Vivint’s home-security/home-control system includes everything we like about FrontPoint Security’s system, including Alarm.com monitoring services, but the 2Gig Go! touch-screen control panel that Vivint installs is considerably more advanced than the Simon XT products that FrontPoint offers.
We reviewed ADT’s Pulse Premier system, which consists of a primary alarm panel mounted inside a steel wall-mount cabinet, a plastic control panel with a text-only LCD and a rubber keypad, a second control panel with a seven-inch LCD touch-screen, and a Z-Wave control module with an integrated Wi-Fi access point.
The hot trend in today’s home-security market is to bundle home-control technology into the same package as the alarm system. Instead of a sensor just sending an emergency alert message to a central office, these systems can also turn on lights inside and outside your home while simultaneously triggering video cameras to record what’s happening. If fire sets off a smoke alarm, these systems can automatically shut down your HVAC system to prevent smoke from being spread throughout the house.
After several months of testing hybrid home-security/home-control systems from three major service providers, we’ve concluded that the two great technologies go great together, just like peanut butter and chocolate. We’ve also found that the systems can be expensive, that elaborate systems can be difficult to configure, and that some service providers make shopping for a system much more difficult than it need be.
Allow our pain to be your gain: We’ll provide a deep dive on every component, tell you which devices we think are essential (and which are just nice to have), explain how the systems work, and provide valuable tips on how to avoid getting screwed when you go shopping for one. We’ll wrap up with hands-on reviews of dealer-installed systems from ADT and Vivint, and a DIY system from FrontPoint Security.