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Xfinity Home review: A simple, smart combination of security and home automation

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Comcast's Zen thermostat is great, but Nest's thermostats are also supported. 

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Already have a Nest thermostat or Lutron outlet dimmers? Then there's no need to buy Comcast's gear. This again is Xfinity Home's edge: It works with a large and growing list of third-party devices that you can control and automate from one interface.

Linking devices to the Xfinity Home service takes little more than adding your account logins for your individual smart devices into the Xfinity Home mobile app. Once they're synced, you can use the app to set up rules for home automation.

Smooth operator

In the app you can set up actions like having a porch light come on at sunset and turn off at sunrise. Or have a camera capture a video clip when a door is opened or motion is detected. At the moment, though, most actions are for lighting, motion and door/window sensors, the cameras and Nest thermostats.

For example, while you're able to easily program a timed temperature schedule through the app, you can also create a rule that will automatically adjust the temperature to an Away mode and also shut off all your lights to save energy -- all with a single tap. You can also easily have connected lights turn on and off around your home to give the appearance of activity while you're away.

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The app makes setting up rules on the fly a breeze. Too bad there's not more of them. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

However, if you have a Chamberlain MyQ remote garage door opener connected, you can use the app to open and close your garage and set it to send push notifications when those happen. But that's it. Well, for now anyway. Comcast promises more rules are on the way and even in the three months that I tested the service, new rules and support for new products have come onboard. That said, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't create automations similar to those available with AT&T's Digital Life.

Access everywhere

The Xfinity Home app is well laid out and easy to navigate and is likely the main way you'll control your system, but certainly not the only way. The included wireless keypad lets you arm and disarm your system and send an alarm to local authorities, while the touchscreen control center (not wireless) lets you do those things as well as adjust your thermostat, check the activity and status of all the sensors in your home, view live video from your cameras and even check the weather.

There's also a web portal, which pretty much duplicates what you can do with app -- from monitoring your cameras to setting up rules to arming/disarming your system. Lastly, for Xfinity TV subscribers with an X1 DVR, you can view and control your setup through your TV using voice commands. Saying "Xfinity Home cameras" will bring up the live views from your cameras, for instance.

What is missing is support for digital assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. So if being able to say, disarm your system by talking to your Amazon Echo is a must-have feature, you'll have to go elsewhere.  

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For Xfinity TV subscribers with an X1 DVR, you can access your system with voice commands through your TV and remote.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Excellent now, better later

Like I said at the start, Xfinity Home has me rethinking the value of smart home devices. Putting them and professional security under one service makes having both more valuable. Although what it can do right now might not compare to what others offer and startup costs can get pricey, Comcast's monthly costs are competitive. Plus, with growing support for third-party devices that you can integrate now or later, Xfinity Home makes it easier to build out the system you need. 

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