Viper Home review: The most comprehensive DIY security system yet

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MSRP: $229.99

The Good The Viper Home offers clever design and consistent performance. Plus,the app works with Viper's vehicle security and convenience products.

The Bad The starter kit costs $30 more than similar packages from Oplink or iSmartAlarm. You have to pay $9.99 a month to use the camera's video streaming -- although that's better than Oplink's $19.99 monthly fee.

The Bottom Line Due to the lower monthly fees, Viper Home is a more intriguing option than Oplink if you want to add accessories like a camera and a siren. If you don't, stick with iSmartAlarm.

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8.0 Overall
  • Features 8
  • Usability 8
  • Design 8
  • Performance 8

Review Sections

Viper is a Directed Electronics brand that makes all sorts of car-related gadgets. Recently, though, the company added a DIY home security system to the mix. That means that this new $229.99 system, dubbed Viper Home, is competing against similar products like the $349.99 Oplink Security TripleShield, $199 iSmartAlarm, $199 Canary Smart Home Security Device, and $239 Piper.

The Canary and Piper are all-in-one hubs with built-in cameras. The Oplink and iSmartAlarm, on the other hand, have hubs and separate accessories like door/window sensors and motion detectors. Viper definitely designed its home security system in the style of Oplink and iSmartAlarm. But Viper Home offers something that none of the others can -- optional integration with existing Viper vehicle security products.

Not only that, but you can buy extras like cameras and sirens a la carte and if you get a Z-Wave bridge, you can broaden the functionality of your Viper Home kit to include home automation. So, not only does Viper Home offer DIY home security, you can also incorporate vehicle security and automatable appliances -- if you so desire. That's why I think Viper Home is the most well-rounded option available among DIY security systems today.

Screenshot by Megan Wollerton/CNET

I would recommend this system if you plan to invest in more than just the starter kit. Since iSmartAlarm is less expensive and offers roughly the same functionality, there isn't a great reason to get Viper Home instead. But, if you do plan to upgrade in any way, I wouldn't recommend iSmartAlarm or Oplink: iSmartAlarm's camera didn't do very well during our testing and Oplink's camera comes with a $19.99 monthly fee. Viper Home will cost you just $9.99 a month.

So, over time, Viper would be less expensive than Oplink and it offers a wider range of optional features. It's a particularly great option if you're interested in Viper's vehicle security offerings (or already have a Viper car security system). And if you don't care about the vehicle security options, but do want good-quality video streaming, Viper Home is $10 less a month than Oplink. If you don't want a camera or car monitoring, iSmartAlarm is still the best value around.

Design, usability, and features
It seems like Viper Home paid more attention to design than Oplink or iSmartAlarm. Yes, all three are glossy white gadgets, but there's something about the Viper devices that stands out to me. And by stand out, I mean that they will blend in better with your surroundings. The hub, sensors, motion detectors, sirens, and cameras are small and carefully designed to maintain a sophisticated, yet inconspicuous presence in your home. Each item looks nice alone and blends in well with the other products. There aren't any colorful logos messing with the flow like the Oplink system or oddly inconsistent design like iSmartAlarm's line of products -- the hub is square, the sensors are squarish, and the camera is rounded -- why?

Colin West McDonald/CNET

In the basic $229.99 starter kit you get a hub, a motion sensor, and a door/window sensor, along with the requisite batteries, power cord, and Ethernet cable you need to install the thing. The setup process really was painless. The hub connects directly to your router via the provided Ethernet cable and then you have to register your security system.

Next you find a good spot for the door/window sensor and the motion detector. They're equipped with adhesive strips, so that's about as simple as possible. Just find a good place in your house and stick 'em where you want (the guide offers suggestions for optimal performance). The sides of the door/window sensor should be three-quarters of an inch or closer to one another. Keep the motion detector out of direct sunlight and put it at least 72 inches off the floor. If you have a hard time reaching that high, that will likely be the biggest inconvenience you will face during this installation.

Now, it's time to download the app -- also simple. It's free and it's currently available for both Android and iOS users. Just use the log-in you created during registration and you can access the Viper Connect app. For all of the available options offered through Viper Connect, the app is incredibly straightforward and well-designed. To access the home security portion, select Home Control.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

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