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Myfox Smart Home Security System review: Myfox muddles DIY home security

The functionality and the cost of this smart-home security kit just don't add up.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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6 min read

There are a lot of justifiable reasons to drop nearly $500 on a single purchase, but value is a pretty universal prerequisite -- is this worth it? While the answer to that question is often subjective, I can say confidently that the $478 Myfox Smart Home Security System (£418 in the UK), which comes with a 720p HD camera, a vibration-detecting door/window sensor and a 110-decibel siren is not.

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5.3

Myfox Smart Home Security System

The Good

Myfox's "IntelliTag" door/window uses vibration sensors to distinguish between a knock and a forced entry.

The Bad

At $478, the Myfox Smart Home Security System is very expensive and it doesn't offer all that much. The app is glitchy.

The Bottom Line

Myfox's camera is pretty good, although there are better options out there -- and the whole system is seriously overpriced. Don't get it.

The camera is pretty good (it costs $199/£169 a la carte), although the $150 Simplicam , the $199 Nest Cam and the $279 Piper NV in particular offer a lot more for the money. And the door/window sensor and siren kit ($279/£249 if you don't want the camera) is way too expensive when you consider what you're getting (a sensor and a siren...).. While I do like the design of these products and that they integrate with 'Works with Nest', the overall value just isn't there to recommend it to anyone.

Take a tour of Myfox's Smart Home Security System (pictures)

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Too much hardware, too little function

The complete $478 Myfox Smart Home Security System includes a plug-in Wi-Fi hub with up to 6-hour battery backup (it was closer to 4-5 hours for me), a 110-decibel siren, a vibration-sensing "IntelliTag" door/window device, a key fob for smartphone-free arming and disarming (all battery-powered and radio-frequency-enabled) and a 720p HD Wi-Fi camera with 1-hour battery backup.

You do have the option of buying just the "Home Alarm" Wi-Fi hub, siren, door/window sensor and key fob kit for $279/£249 or just the security camera for $199/£169, although you need all of these accessories for the complete Myfox Smart Home Security System.

The various Myfox components look nice enough. Everything except for the door/window sensor has a coordinating rounded shape with a white finish and the occasional silver accent. While the aesthetics are unobtrusive and shouldn't cramp any home decor, the sheer number of accessories, their size and in some cases, even their shape strikes me as completely unnecessary at least and oddly limiting at most.

Take the siren. While this large disc-shaped device does have a built-in tamper sensor that sends an alert if it's moved, it's just a siren. A loud siren that's likely to scare away an intruder, yes, but just a siren. Then there's a separate hub, which seems like it could have easily been integrated into the siren or vice versa. And, although the camera's rounded design does blend in well with the other accessories, it spoils any potential for angling or rotating the field of view to achieve an optimal position.

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Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

All of these accessories also mean a more complicated setup process. Myfox offers an Android and iOS app so you can access these Wi-Fi-and radio-frequency-enabled products remotely. Download the app on your device of choice to get started. The app setup is mostly straightforward. It clearly identifies all of the steps, but there are many more steps than I would like.

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Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Installing the Wi-Fi hub, which Myfox calls "Link," was definitely the most complicated part of the entire configuration process. The first time I tried to set it up, I got a message that said "An unexpected error occurred. Try again." It worked the second time, but the hub was also difficult to reinstall when I moved locations.

Each time I switched to a different Wi-Fi network (I tested Myfox both at work and at home), I had to delete the accessories and start the configuration process all over again. That was pretty annoying, especially since DIY products are supposed to be designed for mobility.

After the hub was installed, the process flowed more smoothly to the siren, the door/window sensor, the key fob and the camera, which was the easiest to set up via a quick QR-code scan.

The DIY security kit you don't want

While the Myfox app looks pretty good, you really have to dig to find the information you're looking for -- it isn't intuitive at all and some of the features are similarly confusing.

For instance, you can adjust the sensitivity of the door/window sensor, but there's no in-app feature that lets you adjust the motion settings to suit your needs, or even opt-in or -out of motion alerts. Everything is dependent on you scheduling or manually arming and disarming the system. And if the system is armed, you'll get motion alerts every time an event takes place, with no ability to set zones or change its sensitivity. If it's unarmed, you won't receive any.

All of the indoor home security cameras we've tested

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Myfox also doesn't come with sound alerts, so there's no chance of getting an alert based on someone breaking a window, unless you have a door/window sensor attached to it.

To add to the confusion, if the system is armed and the door/window sensor is triggered, it will turn on the loud 110-decibel siren. However, if the camera's motion sensor detects activity, you simply get an alert instead of a triggered siren. There are also other features, like auto-disarming with the key fob that's supposed to deactivate the door/window sensor and the siren when it senses that you've arrive at home, but it never worked correctly for me.

I also got a lot of server-based error messages while using the app. "Request failed: bad gateway (502)" and "Data unavailable" were regular occurrences and made it very difficult to work inside the app.

That said, the system worked fairly well (when the app was functioning correctly). I received regular alerts, I was able to review motion-related clips and the door/window sensor really did a good job of differentiating between someone knocking on the door and aggressively shaking it (as in a forced entry).

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Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Unlike Piper NV , Flir FX or Foscam's FI9826P , Myfox doesn't offer free cloud storage. 1 day of continuous recording costs $5 a month and 7 days of continuous recording costs $10 a month. With so many fee-free services around -- and brands like Nest Cam even boosting their subscription from 7 to 10 days of continuous recording for $10 a month -- Myfox's fees are actually kind of steep.

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I don't think IFTTT functionality has hit the US just yet. Screenshot by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Myfox is part of Nest's "Works with Nest" program, though. So I was able to successfully program my Myfox camera to turn off when my Nest Learning Thermostat was set to Away mode and back on when the thermostat was set to Home mode. That's a pretty limited feature, since you can already set the camera to turn off when you disarm the system and on again when you arm it, but third-party integrations are key in today's smart-home market.

Myfox also has its own IFTTT channel, but I ran into a problem here. Myfox is a French company and it has had products overseas for years. When I tried to create an IFTTT recipe, the Myfox API rejected my log-in information and gave me an error message in French. I reached out to Myfox about this issue, but haven't yet heard back from them. I'll update this review when I do.

Conclusion

Whether you look at the entire $478/£418 Myfox suite of products or its standalone components for $279/£249 (siren, sensor, hub, key fob) and $199/£169 (camera), this system is a bit of a jumble. Its features are limited, its app is confusing and occasionally glitchy and it's very expensive. If you're on the hunt for a simple DIY security camera with a built-in siren as well as motion, sound and a variety of other sensors, the $279 Piper NV is a solid bet. And, if you're looking for more door/window sensor-style accessories, something like Viper Home has a simpler setup and gets the job done for much less.

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5.3

Myfox Smart Home Security System

Score Breakdown

Features 6Usability 5Design 5Performance 5
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