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Canary is a new company to the home security market. Its first product was crowdfunded on the Indiegogo site, raising almost $2 million, helping to bring the Canary Home Security Device to life.
It comes about from the founders’ background in security, and a desire to create something different for the home market.
How serious are they about security? Well, their open positions page has a vacancy for an ethical hacker. That person will be doing their best to break into and defeat the Canary’s systems. Perhaps they should have hired them before launching, but the intention is clear.
The company claims that their product studies and analyzes activity around your home to keep the occupants safer. Does it manage that? Let’s find out with a close up look in our Canary review.
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Key Features of the Canary Home Security Device
Canary Home Security Device is a small tower unit that comes in white, black or silver, to suit your decor. It retails for around $199 and is around six inches tall by three inches wide and deep. It looks rather like a minimalist speaker but is packed with smart technology to help protect the home.
- Camera: It offers a range of protective features including a 1080p HD camera with 147 degree angle view with night mode and audio.
- Sensors: Sensors monitor air quality, temperature and humidity to help you understand your home environment while it packs a powerful alarm that can be triggered under a range of circumstances.
- Compatibility: While the device is quite large compared to some home camera systems, it can still be placed easily around the home, and once connected to your WiFi can be operated and monitored via an iOS or Android app with no further technical knowledge.
- Real Time Triggers: When positioned, the camera will watch and listen for untoward events. If it notices something wrong, it can send you a video and audio feed, and the user can trigger the alarm to send out an alert or scare off intruders. The Canary stores your last 12 hours of activity on Amazon’s cloud service, for no additional fee.
- Learns Behavior: Like the Nest thermostat, the Canary is supposed to learn from your movements and stop sending false positives as it learns the comings and goings of the legitimate occupants. However, lots of owners say this functionality isn’t active yet.
- Uses Geofencing: The device will know when you leave the home via geofencing and turn itself on, so there’s no alarm keypad to trigger, which is often a problem with traditional alarms when you have your hands full, need the bathroom or are a little the worse for wear.
Pros of the Canary Home Security Device
- Looks and Feels High Quality: The Canary looks good, and more importantly doesn’t look like a camera, making it easier to deploy. Made of aluminum and solid materials, it looks like a sturdy stereo component or micro PC, and fits well into most homes with a logical range of colors. The Canary also makes it easier to set up your home security, just leave the house with your phone and it is armed.
- Easy to Set Up: Set up takes no time at all, it can be connected via 2.4GHz Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) or a
- WiFi Control: Wired Ethernet connection and then is controlled from your smartphone app. It does require power, so will be useless if the power is cut or during an outage.
- Movable: Compared to traditional home security systems, the Canary is easy to move around and re-position as needed, unlike most fixed systems. It is aimed at both homeowners and the rental market, so can be taken with the owner from property to property and with no additional fees.
Cons of the Canary Home Security Device
- False Positives (Initially): Presumably there are quite a few false positive alerts from the Canary as it learns your comings and goings, but at least it gives you the choice to trigger the alarm or not, rather than summoning the authorities with yet another false alert. Also, despite the air sensors it won’t act as a smoke or fire alarm, which seems a major omission.
- Requires Your Phone To Be On: Also, if you don’t notice the Canary’s alert, then the alarm won’t go off – so if you’re sleeping or the phone is on mute or out of view – then it won’t be of much use. If you buy several units to cover a whole home, and they operate through the same router, then all the units need to be on or off. You can’t zone them.
- Some Sneaky “Optional” Recurring Fees: Annoyingly on the front page of the Canary website it does say “No contracts or required monthly fees” Yet, it does offer a subscription across a range of tariffs, for additional with annual or monthly rates which you may need if you’ll be away from a while, but at least these are easy to set up and change, depending on your needs.
- Software Isn’t Perfect (yet): Finally, there’s the accuracy of the product itself. It can be triggered by bugs flying around a room, changes in daylight levels through dark clouds and other situations. Apparently the learning mode will discriminate against these, but the software for that feature isn’t 100% yet. Hopefully that will be resolved by the time you buy one, but it should have been made clearer to early buyers.
Bundle Multiple Canary Devices
If you are setting up a full home monitoring network, I’d recommend bundling your initial investment to realize cost savings. You might want to add devices slowly as you go, but this listing offers 2 devices at a discount.
Canary Alternatives to Consider
Canary clearly isn’t the only smart home security cam solution on the market. I’ve also been able to review a few of the competitors (see below). I’ll summarize the key points as a way of comparison.
In many ways the Nest Cam is the big elephant in the room. Google’s acquisition of Nest – and Nest’s acquisition of Dropcam – raised eyebrows. Many thought Google would quickly consolidate the market. So far, the Nest Cam has showed promise, but also hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.
It’s a tad more expensive than the Canary, but it offers full audio capability. You can check out my comparison of the Canary vs Nest Cam right here.
Belkin WeMo Cam
This is a more lightweight solution. It certainly doesn’t have as many of the extra features that the Canary has, but it also isn’t as expensive (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
It doesn’t have the smart “learning” technology of the Canary or Nestcam, but it also doesn’t have the “growing pains” where the system initially is rather “dumb” before it learns.
The most obvious reason to buy is if you already have WeMo devices (lights, switches, etc..), but it can also work on its own and doesn’t require a hub for control. You can read my full review of it here.
Final Recommendation – Is the Canary Worth the Investment?
Some people spend a fortune on home security gear. The Canary’s claim to cover a home for just $199 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) sounds like it is stretching things a little, but since it can help reduce your insurance premiums, the insurance companies must have some faith in it.
Being a portable solution, you can move it around, but it would seem to suit smaller properties over extensive and multi-entry buildings.
Despite the company’s claims, there are also issues with it not learning from false positives, so you might want to wait and see how the product improves through refinement and software updates before investing in one.
Finally the home security camera market is hotting up at the moment with Nest taking an interest, having acquired DropCam, WeMo, SmartThings and more. Comparing these against the bulky Canary, you may find it might not be the perfect solution for your home.
Bottom Line: This is a good system (not perfect) that is among the leading smart security solutions in a quickly changing industry.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!