Burglars, Be Alarmed: Smart House Alarm From Vivint

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Along with temperature control, another key aspect of home control is lighting --particularly the ability to control dimming at various times. Vivint supports various lamp and appliance modules today for timed control of lamps, but the real win comes with control of in-wall switches that the company is planning to support. Alas, these proved to be Vivint's Waterloo: Despite multiple visits, Vivint could not get the lights hooked up to the system, although it is likely to improve as the company gains experience with more installations.

Vivint also offers two different kinds of cameras that can help keep tabs on things while you're away, or record video in case you want to turn back the clock a bit and check for any home disruptions. One of its models offers remote panning and tilting capabilities to survey a large room, but it does not yet offer outdoor cameras for nighttime surveillance.

Living in a home with any security system involves a bit of learning and lifestyle adjustment -- and there was the inevitable false alarm that Vivint's operators took in stride. The key thing about adding control of things like door locks, cameras, and thermostats is that they take what is normally a passive benefit -- like security -- and makes it something that can be actively used in daily life. It's certainly not a need that everyone has, but it's a much more affordable option than having a custom installer outfit one's home.

The dream of complete, seamless control of a home remains down the road, but those looking for a modern security system can at least unlock their front door remotely before they get home.

Ross Rubin (@rossrubin on Twitter) is executive director of industry analysis at The NPD Group (@npdtech on Twitter). He blogs at The NPD Group Blog as well as his own blog, Out of the Box.

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