Today’s startup landscape can be very democratic when you have crowdsourcing to back you up. Instead of having to convince just a few banks and venture capitalists to offer loans and capital to fund a new company, a multitude of people (or potential consumers) can be persuaded to help out instead. This is what Kronosight did in 2014 to get the capital needed for their Sentri. You know that the product offers great promise if it has managed to convince so many people to believe and invest in it. Now it’s time to see if it has delivered on that promise.
What Is Sentri?
At a glance, Sentri is a home security system that also offers environmental information. It has a touchscreen control panel as an interface, along with an app you can use on your smartphone. It’s Wi-Fi-enabled, and it boasts of an easy DIY installation process. It’s also dubbed as an “all in one” device because it integrates pretty well with other popular home automation smart devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Belkin Wemo devices, and the Philips Hue smart light bulbs.
It’s a square-shaped device that measures 9.8 inches on each side with a depth of 1.18 inches. It weighs 2.33 pounds. The entire front surface is a 10.1-inch color touchscreen display, which should be familiar enough for any smartphone or tablet user. It looks like an Apple devicedue to its simplicity and white color but it’s not a tablet at all. It is a security system.
You can just set it up on a desk or shelf with its built-in kickstandwhich pops out from the back. Or you can hang it up on your wall with the nails included in your purchase. Like a tablet or smartphone, you can even customize its look further by picking a nice background image for the screen.
All these can really make it pop out and become a centerpiece element in your interior design. It really doesn’t look like a camera at all, so your home doesn’t have that intrinsically unappealing charm of a high security prison. And when you want to take a nice look at what’s happening inside your home when you’re away, you can do so discreetly. It helps you get some piece of mind if you have relative strangers in your home taking care of your children or your pets.
The Sentri offers a 720p HD camera with 120-degree wide angle lens. It’s armed with a motion sensor that activates the camera when there’s movement, and there’s also night vision to sort things out in the dark. It also comes with sensors for temperature, humidity, and air quality.
It will send you a notification when the camera starts recording because the motion detector senses movement, and you can watch the live stream to see if it merits any concern. If there’s an intruder, you can then remotely sound the siren to scare the burglar away.
The camera also features a nice battery backup just in case there’s a power outage.
Setting Up the Sentri
Some smart devices are so complicated to install that even their manufacturers recommend that you let a professional electrician to set it up for you. One good example of this is the Wink Relay, which offers another control setup for your Wink home automation system. But the Sentri is so easy to install that the instructions are printed out on just one side of a postcard that measures 5 by 7 inches. On the other side of the instructional postcard you’ll find a cheeky thank-you message instead.
So what you just need to do is to connect the power adapter to the Sentri and then plug it in a power outlet. You’ll then put in your Wi-Fi details, and then use your email address and a password to register. Afterwards, you’ll get a verification email message to confirm your setup.
Once that’s done, you’re now free to download the app for either an iOS or Android device. For this, you will also need the same email address and password you used earlier. And that’s it. The Sentri tablet gives you pretty much the same functions and features as what you get from the app on your smartphone, with the most notable exception that you can only get live streaming from your app.
Both the app and the tablet are also easy to use. You can just swipe left or right and you can switch from the home screen to the other settings. The settings you can adjust include the following:
- You can manually choose the Away mode in which all alerts are enabled or the Home mode when all alerts are disabled so you’re not bothered all the time.
- You can tone down or increase the brightness of the screen.
- You can pick either Celsius or Fahrenheit for your temperature readings.
- The background wallpaper can be chosen from the preloaded images included.
- You may choose to switch to a different Wi-Fi network.
- And you can switch to another cloud storage plan.
It can also work as a hub, although that’s only true for a handful of devices. Just tap “add a new device”, and select the device. It will connect quickly.
Cloud Storage Options
Whenever your sensor detects movement, the camera springs into action and the footage is recorded to the cloud. While you’ll get a real-time alert and an image, all your video history is saved in the cloud along with all the events and alerts.
You get 12 hours’ worth of free video history, but you have the option of switching to a premium video history plan.
- 7 days. You get to keep your video, snapshot, and alert history for the last 7 days, for $9.99 a month.
- 30 days. Now you save the history for the last 30 days, for just $19.99 a month.
- 1 year. The entire history of videos, snapshots, and alerts for the year is saved in the cloud, as long as you pay $99.99 a month.
- Forever. This time you can keep your entire history for as long as you wish, as long as you also pay $299.99 a month.
While you can’t get live streams on the Sentri itself, you do have the ability to watch the clips on the device. However, you need to keep in mind that you don’t have the ability to download the clips. That may drastically limit its usefulness in catching a thief in the act for the police to use as evidence, but you may find a 3rd-party app that can find a way to give you screen capture images.
With the tablet, the main home screen offers a nice background image as well as the time and the indoor temperature, humidity, and air quality (measures in parts per million). You have 2 shortcuts on the top right corner. One is for the settings, which you can then change according to your preferences. The other is the activity log, which shows you a timeline of the activity Sentri has detected. You get to see your saved video clips as well as the alerts with time-stamps.
The Sentri can also be controlled from your app, which in some ways may prove to be a better choice aside from the fact that you don’t have to stand from the couch (and you don’t even have to be in the house at all). One reason is that only your smartphone can show you the live streams from the Sentri camera. That’s understandable, since of course you’re already near the Sentri camera you can just see what’s currently happening with your own yes.
But another reason is that the touchscreen seems to respond a tad more slowly than the smartphones.
Pros and Cons
Sentri offers a lot of goodies for your money. It looks really sleek, and what’s even more important is that the installation and setup is quite simple. There’s no need to pore over a thick manual to get it to work right away.
Once it is set up, using it is child’s play. It’s pretty much like using a tablet on a wall to control the device. With an app and the tablet, you’re not limited to a single mode of control while you also get remote control when you’re in the office. With the lights in play, you can also automatically activate the lights once the motion sensor detects movement during the night.
The videos offered by the Sentri represent perhaps its greatest weakness, and it’s a glaring one when you consider everything. First of all, the motion sensitivity is a bit too sensitive, so that you get lots of videos of your dog or cat at play when you have pets in the home. Some security cameras are focused at a higher level so they’re not disturbed by these animals, but not the Sentri. Perhaps they did this because some owners do want to monitor their pets, and of course it can also capture thieves so determined to avoid detection that they will crawl across the floor.
But then the video clarity may also need a bit of improvement. It’s supposed to be 720p HD quality, but sometimes that’s not good enough especially in the dark. You may have some trouble with overexposure and pixilation. Also, there’s no zoom feature at all.
And where you do save the videos? In the cloud, and only in the cloud. You don’t have an option for local storage at all, and once the video is in the cloud there’s no way for you to download it so you can save it on local storage.
And frankly, the storage prices they charge per month borders on the ludicrous. Paying $300 a month to keep your entire video history in the cloud is simply too expensive, considering the other cloud storage options you have available.
The siren also disappoints, and primarily that’s because you don’t have any means of enabling it to sound automatically. Presumably, that’s because the Sentri people know just how sensitive their motion detectors are, and it can get extremely aggravating when the alarm blares every time your pet passes by the Sentri.
Finally, the list of potential 3rd party integrations is still a bit too short. That may change in the future, but that still means that currently the Sentri’s ability to work as part of a network is currently limited.
Basically, the motion detector’s sensitivity makes this home security option ideal only for pet owners who really want to keep an eye out for their pets. And at the same time, if you use Sentri you’re not exactly in a position to present evidence of a crime to the police, since you only have 12 hours of free video storage before you have to pay big bucks to extend that period.
It’s still hard to get over the fact that there’s no way to download your own security footage into your possession. And keeping the videos in the cloud becomes expensive the longer you keep from deleting the videos. And what if your Sentri captures the first moment your baby daughter stands up and walks by herself? That’s one moment to cherish, but $300 a month can keep anyone from being too sentimental!
So the final word on the Sentri is that it is a good enough device—it’s just that some of its competitors may offer better value for your money. With this system, you have a cool, good looking device that offers two ways to access the controls. But as a security device, the money you spend for it may be better used for other options instead.