One of the beautiful things about DIY home security is that it champions piecemeal installation -- you can grab ahub for 99 bucks, the brand's own open/close sensor for another $54, a for $199 and a for $215 and you've just designed a security system beyond traditional brand-specific confines.
That's a great option when being loyal to one company means settling for less. But every so often, a system comes so close to the "complete package" that there's no need to bother with the third-party search for something better.
Icontrol Networks' Piper NV comes close to this ideal; it has tons of features, no monthly fees, a 2-minute setup and a responsive app. For a solid, self-contained DIY security system that works when you need it, I'd highly recommend the NV, which sells for $269 or £230 (it's yet to be made available in Australia, but that converts to around AU$440).
Like Icontrol's original, its new NV model is available in either a glossy white or black finish. I really liked the look of the original Piper and the NV isn't any different. So many home security and automation products look fine, but fall more on the utilitarian side of things; they're housed in a boring hunk of plastic and it's tough to distinguish one brand's device from another.
The NV feels different. Yes, it's still a hunk of white or black plastic, but it's a thoughtfully designed one. From its graceful lines to the sturdy stand that snaps into place, every inch of the NV makes sense.
That's even more impressive when you consider its multitude of features, which begs the question: how did the team ever manage to shove so many useful things into the sleek and minimal NV? It's efficient, understated, elegant even.
Here's an overview of all the things this minimal-footprint-device can do. It has a camera, a siren, a microphone, a speaker and a Z-Wave hub, as well as motion, sound, temperature, humidity and light sensors. The accompanying Piper Android and iOS apps allow you to arm and disarm the system, set custom alerts, watch live footage on a single or four-panel screen, view the free saved clips triggered by your own settings preferences, check out graphs showing all of the changes the sensors detect over time, add Z-Wave devices like smart plugs, sensors, locks, thermostats and more.
A lot of things are similar, if not identical to Icontrol's first Piper, but a couple of key tweaks take the NV from a great product to an exceptional one. Unlike Piper 1.0, this version has night vision; in fact, the "NV" stands for new version and night vision to denote this major feature upgrade.
Icontrol showcased the NV at CES earlier this month and I had the opportunity to speak with Piper co-founder Russell Ure. He mentioned the challenges of designing night vision for a 180-degree fish-eye lens, which explains the slight visual differences between the version 1.0 and NV cameras. Icontrol also boosted the camera's sensor from 2.0 megapixels on the original Piper to 3.4 megapixels on the Piper NV, as well as adding a snappier processor and an updated Z-Wave hub that can accommodate more devices while simultaneously improving overall security.