SkylinkNet Alarm System Starter Kit review: Skylink's DIY security kit is basic but dependable

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The Good SkylinkNet's kit was a reliable performer in our tests, with responsive sensors and an easy-to-use app.

The Bad Skylink won't call the police for you if the alarm goes off, and its system won't integrate into a larger connected-home setup.

The Bottom Line There's nothing groundbreaking about this simple system, but for basic small home security, it gets the job done.

7.4 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 9
  • Design 5
  • Performance 9

You've got more home security options these days than ever before, and an increasing number of them don't include long contracts or monthly fees. The latest such system comes from a company called Skylink, which operates out of Canada, Hong Kong, and the US. For nearly 25 years, Skylink's been selling localized, DIY alarm systems, and now, with the newly released SkylinkNet system, the company's bringing your smartphone into the picture, too.

That makes for a system that falls right in line with what we've already seen from kits like iSmartAlarm . SkylinkNet doesn't doesn't do much to one-up those competitors, and compared to flashier gadgets like Piper and Canary , it's downright boring. Still, it's a system works as advertised and,at $150 (available internationally at £95 and AU$170, converted roughly) it costs less than the competition. If you're just looking for a basic level of low-cost coverage that doesn't need to play nice with a larger smart home ecosystem, I think SkylinkNet fits the bill.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Design and features

SkylinkNet follows a path we've seen plenty of other systems tread. You'll plug a hub into your router, stick sensors up around your home, then monitor and control everything from the smartphone app. If you'd rather keep your phone in your pocket, you can arm and disarm your system using a keychain remote.

To get you started, the system comes with a motion detector and two open/closed sensors that you can use to monitor doors and windows. The sensors run on AA and AAA batteries, which, somewhat annoyingly, don't come included. You can also add batteries to the hub as a backup for when the power goes out.

You can add extra sensors to your system as needed -- motion detectors and keychain remotes sell for $25, while extra open/closed sensors cost $20 each. You can also expand your system to include things like cameras, leak detectors, and smart switches from Skylink's existing catalog. Like the starter kit itself, most of the hardware looks rather dated, and isn't designed to work with third party systems or devices.

The SkylinkNet app offers straightforward controls over everything in your system, though it doesn't seem quite as feature-rich or as polished as other systems we've tested out. You have an alarm screen dedicated to arming and disarming the system, as well as a home screen dedicated to your devices. On that screen, you'll be able to monitor that status of each device in real time, or tweak its settings.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

You get three arming options on the alarm screen: "Arm Away," "Arm Home," and a button you can slide to trigger the panic alarm. The slider is a nice little touch, as it helps keep you from sounding the siren by mistake.

Set the system to Arm Away, and you'll get a customizable "Exit Delay" that gives you time to leave before the system actually arms. The hub will beep during this time, with the beeps growing faster as the system draws closer to arming. As for Arm Home mode, it's a pretty common feature with security systems like these, and one that's nice to have if you want to activate some of your sensors while you're home, but not all of them.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

To this end, you'll be able to customize when each sensor triggers the alarm. For instance, you could set the window sensor to trigger the siren on both Arm Home and Arm Away mode, but set the door sensor and motion detector to only sound an alarm if you're away.

You can also customize when each sensor will send your phone a push notification. Maybe you've got teenagers, and you want notifications every time the motion detector in the liquor cabinet fires up, but you only care about the door opening if it happens while the system is armed. You'll also be able to set the hub to chime whenever a particular device is activated, as well as give each device a custom name, which you'll want to be sure and do if you're using multiple sensors of the same type.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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