A single Canary brings smart security to your home

/ Updated: September 27, 2013 2:25 PM PDT

Canary

If there's any doubt as to whether people are eager for new home security alternatives, just take a look at Canary, a $199 smart home security device that blew up on Indiegogo this summer, crowdfunding its way to almost $2 million worth of contributions and preorders in a little over a month (its initial goal was $100,000).

Unlike other DIY security systems that we've seen, like the iSmartAlarm and its variety of external sensors, the Canary is a singular, all-in-one device. Housed within the curved, sleek-looking body (available in white, silver, or matte black -- but oddly enough, not yellow) you'll find a 720p HD camera with a wide-angle lens and night-vision capability that you can monitor remotely at any time, along with built-in sensors capable of detecting changes in motion, temperature, humidity, and air quality. That's a lot of tech for a device that's smaller than a bottle of Gatorade.

Canary

You can place the device wherever you'd like, then control and monitor it through a free smartphone app, which Canary promises will be available for both iOS and Android devices when the product starts shipping in May 2014. If the Canary senses motion at home while you're away at work, it'll send you an alert -- likewise if it detects the kind of spike in temperature that might indicate a fire. In all cases, the app will require you to take action rather than alerting any authorities on your behalf, although this might come as a relief if you're prone to triggering false alarms. In addition, the Canary is supposed to learn your habits and daily patterns as you use it, then automatically adjust its sensor baselines accordingly. In theory this should lead to fewer erroneous alerts.

With no hardwiring or complicated installation necessary -- just hook the device up with your Wi-Fi network, download the app, and you'll be good to go -- the Canary should serve as an especially attractive security option for renters, and Canary is quick to point out that the US Justice Department says that rental-occupied homes are, in fact, the most likely to get burglarized. Indeed, for a small apartment that doesn't require much actual coverage, the Canary looks like an intriguing alternative to more-complicated setups. For anything larger, you'll probably need at least two separate devices in order to feel much peace of mind.

Canary

There are other concerns that come with an all-in-one security package, too. As of now, Canary doesn't offer an option for additional sensors beyond those locked within the device itself. You aren't going to be able to monitor your doors and windows with open/closed contact sensors, the way you will if you use another, more customizable DIY home security option. Systems like these are also a little easier to expand than the Canary likely will be. If you want to buy an additional motion detector for your iSmartAlarm system, for instance, you can simply purchase one a la carte for $35. With Canary, you'd need a to spend another $199 on a second all-in-one device.

Still, it's hard not to be excited about what Canary is bringing to the table, especially considering that home security has been impractical and/or unaffordable for so many for so long. It remains to be seen how well Canary's system and app actually work, but with thousands of preorders already under its belt, it's a good bet that we'll be hearing a lot more come May.

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Where to Buy

Canary Smart Home Security Device

Part Number: CNETcanary

MSRP: $199.00

See manufacturer website for availability.