Sentri review: This DIY Sentri offers smart home security sans app

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The Good Sentri's touchscreen interface gives you access to its security features without an app. Its large display looks nice and it's easy to navigate.

The Bad It costs $299; its 720p HD video quality is disappointing; I'm not convinced that folks actually want to interact with a static touchscreen (although Sentri does offer the touchscreen and a related app).

The Bottom Line The $299 Sentri may look kind of neat, but its touchscreen design doesn't actually add much value. I'd opt for Piper's Classic or NV security systems instead.

6.6 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 7
  • Design 6
  • Performance 6

Kronosight, a startup composed of Asus, Acer and HTC alums, launched a Kickstarter campaign in June of 2014 for Sentri, a $299 DIY home security system with a distinct Apple vibe. By the end of its funding period, the tablet-security system hybrid had nearly doubled its original $200,000 goal. A year and a half later and we finally have a Sentri in-house to test out.

It's clear what Sentri is trying to achieve here -- it's a DIY Wi-Fi-enabled home security system and an at-a-glance access point to the indoor temperature, humidity and air quality, as well as local weather. The touchscreen doesn't have full tablet functionality -- you can't browse the internet or download your favorite app -- but it does present basic security and environmental details in an entirely new way. No app required (although yes, it has one).

The problem is that even though Sentri boasts a unique design, the pricey touchscreen tablet display doesn't actually add much value. Security systems like Icontrol's Piper Classic and Piper NV are also equipped with environmental sensors and other advanced features, but their sleek aesthetics err on the side of discretion, rather than Sentri's comparatively clunky tablet touchscreen; it's the kind of device that could be more of a beacon for potential intruders than a true deterrent.

Yes, Sentri looks neat and it works fairly well, but I'd stick with something a bit more streamlined for home security.

Design and features

Sentri doesn't look like a security system, but it has a lot of the same features as Icontrol's Piper Classic and Piper NV, two highly rated all-in-one home security cameras and Canary, a less effective Piper-competitor. The main difference between them and Sentri lies in design execution.

Where Piper and Canary are controlled entirely on their related apps, Sentri adds a home screen interface where you can access details directly, like the current temperature, humidity, weather and air quality. Each Sentri also has a built-in 720p HD camera, siren, motion detector, microphone and speaker, as well as night-vision capabilities, but you can access even more from the Sentri Android or iOS app, including live streaming. Sentri is also compatible with the Nest Learning Thermostat, Philips Hue LEDs and Belkin WeMo products.

Specifically, Sentri is a 10-inch tall by 10-inch wide tabletesque device with a 120-degree camera at the top and a smaller, banner-style touchscreen display in the middle (think older-gen iPhones that had a lot of "dead space" above and below the display). It's made of white and gray plastic and has a built-in stand for sticking your Sentri on a flat surface -- and slots for mounting it to a wall.

It would look a little weird to mount this thing to a wall, though, since it has to be connected to its power adapter to function properly. To avoid having a cord hanging down the wall, I relied on the included stand and simply stuck Sentri on a table.

Setup and usability

"Installing" Sentri is as simple as connecting the power adapter, entering your Wi-Fi details and registering your device with your email address and a password. You'll receive a verification email to confirm your set up. After that, you can download the Sentri app on your Android or iOS device and use the same email and password you used to register the device as your log-in.

Sentri's tablet offers roughly the same features and functionality as the app and both are easy to navigate -- the main difference is that you can only access live streaming from the app.

Sentri's "home screen."

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

From the Sentri device you can swipe left or right to scroll between the "home screen" and other settings. In particular, you can manually opt-in or -out of Away (alerts enabled) and Home modes (alerts disabled), make general adjustments to the brightness of the screen, choose whether you want to view temperature readings in Fahrenheit or Celsius, change the background wallpaper, connect to a different Wi-Fi network and switch to a different cloud storage plan. Sentri users have free access to cloud-stored photos, videos and alert logs for one month. After that, you have the option to upgrade to a "premium plan."

There are four premium options -- 7 days of storage for $10 per month; 30 days for $20 per month; one year for $100 per month; and $300 per month to keep your photos, videos and alert logs forever. (Icontrol offers free cloud storage.)

The main "home screen" provides the current time, indoor temperature, humidity and air quality (in parts per million) and the current forecast. And, two shortcuts in the top right corner direct you to settings or to the activity log. The activity log shows a rundown of the activity Sentri has detected, including time-stamped alerts, saved video clips and more.

Viewing the indoor temperature, humidity and air quality from the Sentri app.

Screenshots by CNET

A final screen in the app lets you add a new device, including Nest, Belkin WeMo and Philips Hue products.

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