Make it Look Like You're Home When You're Not
Home security has changed radically in the past decade. Here are some interesting products to keep you on the cutting edge and keep your home safe while you're away or on vacation.
Connected by TCP. This easy-to-use lighting kit allows you to control two lights in your home via smartphone or tablet, without expensive or complex wiring. Replace incandescent bulbs in key places with energy-saving LED bulbs by TCP, which connect the system to your home's existing wireless network. With a free app, you can set lighting schedules, customize a schedule according to the season, and control lights remotely (perfect for the usually-forgotten kid's bathroom). $79.99 and up.
Manything video home monitoring service. Download the free Manything app to your Apple device (such as the old iPod you're not using anymore), point it at a place of interest (your front door, the garage, the living room) and login via the web to see live feeds and up to 30 days of recordings. You can use it for wildlife watching or to monitor your storage space if someone's been messing with the locks. All footage is securely streamed to your Manything account. In late June, Manything is releasing a major update to include motion-activated alerts, motion-detection zones, sensitivity controls, compatibility with home-automation devices, and more. FREE.
Simplicikey. It's a convenient and easy-to-use electronic deadbolt that doesn't change the profile of your old lock system -- no extra drilling or screws needed. Unlock the door with a remote control keyfob, keypad with sliding cover, or traditional key. A one-touch lock button lets you leave the house without rushing around to all the doors. It comes in satin nickel, polished brass, or aged bronze. $249.
Canary. Whereas most security devices are placed all over the home, a single central location is sufficient for this attractive little tower with an HD camera, a microphone, a temperature sensor, night vision, an air-quality monitor, a motion detector, and more. You plug it in, connect it to Wi-Fi, and it analyzes sensor data and sends your smartphone alerts when something doesn't seem right (a spike in temperature or movement by a locked window). The device comes in black, silver, or white. Pre-order for $199, estimated delivery November 2014.
WeMo Switch. You can turn your electronic devices on or off from anywhere when you operate them from a WeMo switch, which works off your existing Wi-Fi network to provide wireless control of your TVs, lamps, stereos, and fans. You can set schedules to run regularly -- turn the lights on every night at 8:30 p.m., or switch on the TV for a few hours each evening to make it look like you're home. Add on more switches or the lighting kit to expand the system. From $49.
Goji Smart Lock. Here's an electronic deadbolt with a built-in camera that sends real-time picture alerts and gives you home-access control using your smartphone. You decide who can access the house and when, sending additional access privileges via text or email when a new visitor arrives (hello, Aunt Norma from out of town). Goji's nice-looking design mimics the hot circular shape for home access systems. The system operates with AA batteries -- and sends an alert when they're low. Pre-order for $278, with estimated delivery November 2014.
iSmart Alarm. For under $200, with no contracts or monthly fees, you can get a reliable and entirely expandable home security system in iSmartAlarm. With either the basic Preferred Package or an expanded Premium Package, you simply set up motion sensors, cameras, and alarms then monitor the system through a smartphone app. $199 and $349.