David Anders is a senior writer for CNET covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining CNET, David built his industry expertise writing for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. In his 5 plus years covering broadband, David's work has been referenced by a variety of sources including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. David is from and currently resides in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
ExpertiseBroadband providers, Home internet, Security Cameras
How does the Iota security system hold up in 2023?
There was a lot to like about the Abode Iota All-In-One Security Kit when we tested and reviewed it roughly two years ago. Much of what impressed us then -- simple setup, sound performance and HomeKit compatibility -- still holds true while some of the drawbacks, namely the pricing, have somewhat lessened over time.
Standard pricing for the Abode Iota home security kit has remained steady at $330, but it's possible to catch it on sale for $250 to $270. Similarly, add-on devices that can quickly add up on a custom kit, such as the $55 motion sensor, can also be found on sale.
Costs for professional monitoring or cloud storage have not come down, unfortunately, but they're not overly expensive. The Standard Plan includes cloud storage for an unlimited number of cameras, among other security features, starting at around $6 a month, which is cheaper than most considering it covers and unlimited number of cameras. The Pro Plan is a bit pricier at around $20 a month but includes professional monitoring and cellular backup.
If you're on the fence about whether or not the Abode Iota All-In-One Security Kit is worth the cost, check out our review below. The review was originally published on March 24, 2021 and has been updated for accuracy.
Somewhere in the middle is Abode Iota, a $330 system that comes with a central hub device, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a key fob. The hub comes with a built-in camera, Zigbee and Z-Wave receivers and a siren. After you install Iota, you can add dozens of sensors, cameras and other devices to the system by buying them a la carte on Abode's website.
Iota's all-in-one approach to home security makes the most sense for apartment or small-home dwellers -- and its Apple HomeKit compatibility will likely excite Apple enthusiasts. Its pricing, particularly if you hope to expand the system to cover more space, and a lackluster app, tarnish an otherwise impressive system. In short, it won't be right for everyone, but it's still a great option to consider.
A smooth start
One of the best parts of using Abode Iota is its setup. I usually give myself a whole morning to set up multiple devices, such as the ones that come in Iota's kit -- and I'm a fairly seasoned installer of smart home tech. Iota was a total breeze to install. It took a grand total of six minutes to get the whole system up and running, thanks to the fact that everything in the box is already paired.
If you purchase more devices, you'll have to connect each of them to the hub, but the starter kit is thankfully simple to get going.
Once the kit is installed (which essentially just requires plugging your camera into a wall outlet and the router), you can switch it over to Wi-Fi -- which involved a hitch I'll describe later -- and place it wherever you want in the house.
One for the money
Before I talk performance, I want to discuss the pricing of Abode -- which is the first thing many potential buyers are going to look at.
Abode Iota and SimpliSafe are two of the most popular DIY security systems on the market, along with Ring's Alarm. Iota costs $250 to $270, and for around the same same price at SimpliSafe, you can get a starter kit with a motion sensor, a door/window sensor, a keypad, a bridge and an indoor camera. Aside from the keypad, that's almost exactly the same setup.
Ring is a little cheaper than both of these systems: for $200, you can get a motion sensor, door/window sensor, keypad, video doorbell, bridge, range extender and indoor camera.
It takes a couple hundred bucks to get any of these DIY home security systems started, but they all land at around the same initial price, with Ring slightly undercutting SimpliSafe and Abode. Then again, any and all of these systems can often be found on sale, so the cheaper one may depend on when and where you shop.
So Abode is doing all right here. If you like the system, then 60 or 70 bucks may not make a huge difference. But the starter kit isn't the only price to factor in. The appeal of DIY home security is that you can expand it to fit your precise needs. Many of us have more than one door and window, after all.
This is where Abode Iota gets a little pricier. Almost every one of its standalone devices is more expensive than its corollary at other companies. Abode's basic motion sensor, for instance, costs $55, compared to SimpliSafe's and Ring's $30 sensors. If you look down the list of products, almost all of them have similar price differences. That means $200 extra dollars to expand your home security system is going to go a lot farther at SimpliSafe and Ring than at Abode -- and that's a real bummer for customers with larger spaces to cover.
Abode's professional monitoring plan is also expensive. While SimpliSafe charges about $183 a year for professional monitoring, and Ring charges $100/year, Abode charges a whopping $241 a year.
On the other hand, Abode only charges $73 a year for a self-monitoring plan (which includes video storage, person alerts and more), while SimpliSafe costs $120 a year for a comparable plan. Ring, meanwhile, costs $30 a year. The one problem with self-monitoring -- and this is true for all three of the systems I've mentioned -- is that it doesn't support cellular backup. If your power goes out, so does your system's ability to communicate with your phone.
It all boils down to this: if you're planning to self-monitor a smaller apartment or home, Abode could be a solid deal for you. But it you're planning to cover a larger space with Iota and its compatible devices -- or if you want professional monitoring -- Abode's competitors might be more economical options.
Two for the show
Price isn't everything, and when it comes to securing your home, it might not even be the primary thing. So how does Abode Iota actually perform?
As mentioned, setup is a breeze and the Abode app is fairly accessible. In it you can access live streams of your cameras, check your devices, arm your system and create smart home automations (including using geofencing).
I had a few minor issues with the app, most of which I could figure out without much trouble. One annoying discovery, for instance, was that the button to switch my Iota to Wi-Fi (from being hardwired to my router) simply didn't appear on Chrome when I was using the online Abode platform. After Googling it, I discovered the button was still there, and I could click on it -- it just wasn't visible (meaning I had to know which blank section of the screen to click for a setup action almost everyone will perform).
Such issues were few, but they were enough to make the app experience feel less than ideal.
Despite these annoyances, Abode's integrations are genuinely impressive. Iota works well with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple's Siri. Again, the integration setups are a little clunky: Apple, for instance, lets you scan a QR code, but you have to generate the code on the Abode app rather than it being on the device itself. Instead of a quick scan, you have to copy down an eight-digit number and re-enter it on the Home app.
That hitch aside, you still get a HomeKit-enabled DIY security system -- something you won't get from SimpliSafe without a third-party bridge, and you won't get from Ring at all.
Abode Iota is a solid DIY home security system, and if you're looking to secure a small house or apartment, it could be perfect for you. The other big appeal is its Apple HomeKit integration, which sets it apart from much of the direct competition.
That said, Iota still isn't perfect. Expanding the system is more expensive than it is with SimpliSafe or Ring Alarm, and the professional monitoring subscription is the most expensive of the lot. Its app can also be a tad clunky. In addition, Abode still doesn't require multifactor authentication for signing into its apps, which should be more of an industry norm by this point.
Whether the pros outweigh the cons will largely depend on your exact needs -- but I can say Abode is worth considering. I just won't recommend it for everyone.