Since 2011, Vivint, Inc. has been a leader in the smart home and home security industries. Almost without exception, Vivint and its products rank among the top selections in home safety and automation. Old hands at keeping a home wired in and safe reach for it for its wide array of dependable products and great customer service; new Vivint customers tend to get hooked once they realize just how elevated their quality of life has become. Other systems, let alone an entirely unsecured home, just can't match it. This isn't to say Vivint and its products are perfect -- nothing in the world of gadgetry is perfect, and that goes double for security. Still, it speaks louder than loud that the worst negative feedback most folks are able to conjure up about a smart home or a security package from Vivint is its price. Considering how much people are willing to pay for their morning shot of Starbucks, you can see how that isn't much of a sticking point.
How much is your safety really worth? That's the question you need to ask yourself without holding back on the answer. Honestly, if you're just looking for a couple extra sensors here and there or a motion-activated light at night, get a dog. You'll make each other happy and, with even a modicum of investment, security will take care of itself. But what if you're looking for more? What if you've got a big family? Old folks and new babies? Disabled loved ones? Maybe you live in a sketchy part of town or way out in the country. For you, the special case, a more thorough solution is required, and that's where Vivint shines -- their packages can turn a home from "everybody's got one" to "Epcot, Jr.", and the price? Well, that's relative, and every person will need to judge the hit to his or her wallet for themselves. Just know that, in this case, you really do get what you pay for.
Everyone knows, intuitively and at once, what it is to feel secure. To feel entirely free of any kind of need to be anything other than at ease, and that we can be happy about it besides. It's that "just ate way too much at Thanksgiving; must nap through a football game" feeling. But it's precisely because of this natural talent, if you want to call it that, that security needs to be codified and made accessible. This is real life in the real world, and feelings won't cut it.
But that leaves a lingering question.
In practical terms, what is security? What does it take, in tangible terms, to build a bubble of safety around ourselves and our loved ones? Most people will have their own answer to that question -- a regular guy or girl off the streets will think very differently from a first responder or ex-military personnel -- but to get to the heart of the issue, you should go to the folks making their living keeping other people safe. In other words, if you wanna know what makes a good security system, ask the security system makers.
So we did.
Vivint Smart Home
Q:Hey Vivint, what makes for a good all-round home security system?
A:That's a great question! Everyone's specific needs will be tailor-made to them, but you can actually cover the generalities pretty easily. When everyone can have a basic home security system that provides an acceptable level of safety, there's no reason not to have one. Here's what we focus on when establishing a basic level of security. It's our definition, if you will. We hope it helps:
24/7 Monitoring: This is the most fundamental aspect of any security system. If you don't know what's going on around the asset you're protecting, whether it be your home, your kids, or your super-cool Pokemon card collection, then what's the point? You don't really have a security system if you don't have a few pairs of unblinking eyes on the people, things, or places you want to keep safe.
Control Panels: It may seem like the most common of common sense solutions, but how are you going to make your home security system do what you want it to do -- what you need it to do -- if you can't control how it functions? You're going to need at least one dedicated control panel in your home. It should be easy to locate, easy to read and understand, and easy to use in even adverse conditions (power outages and the like), because these panels are the beating heart of the system itself, and it will be under the most adverse conditions of all when you need your system the most.
Door and/or Window Sensors: This one's simple: Your doors and windows are the main entry / exit points to your home. No one's trying to stop Santa Claus from breaking in, so no one cares about a chimney sensor, get it? Ditto for the Ninja Turtles and the bathroom. It's the doors and windows your assailants will be using if and when they enter your home unlawfully, and if you want to know about it (and thus, be able to do something about it), you need to have a network of sensors set up as an advance warning network. Obviously, the more of these you can install, the better, but the normal routine is to put up +/- 2, one for the front or main entrance door and one for a window you feel needs extra attention because of its location, ease of breach, or similar reasoning.
Bells + Whistles: With enough imagination and attention to detail, you can fit some really cool technology into your home security suite. Sure, you've got the run of the mill stuff mentioned above, and it's all vital and perfectly adequate. But who wouldn't like the peace of mind (and simple cool-factor) of a motion-detector net? How about a glass-breakage sensor for every window in your home? This is always a great option for those with children or other high-value targets. And of course, you can't go wrong with a couple carbon monoxide detectors just in case -- one in the garage is a must, for example.
In-House Construction: Picture this: You give your business to Security Firm A thinking they're going to take care of you from start to finish. Instead, they farm the work out to Subcontractors Ralph and Bob, who are the ones who'll actually be doing the work. Security Firm A just slaps their name on the finished product, adds a mark-up, and bills you. This, as you can imagine, is not exactly a security-conscious way of doing business. You should start as you mean to finish. The firm you hire should be with you from beginning to end. They should handle every step. They should employ branded equipment installed and serviced by their own team of installers and technicians. You should receive over-the-phone customer service in a language and on a timeframe that's useful for you -- what good is "service" half the world (and three or four timezones) away? In other words, the people you place your trust in should be, well, people you can trust.
What You Get When You Get Vivint Security
With a reasonable definition of "security system" out of the way, at least on a theoretical basis, it's time to dig into what the delivery guy will hand you after you sign up as a Vivint client. What exactly comes in a Vivint home security box? Well, in large part, that's pre-determined, and it has a lot to do with what you read above. Like the old saying goes, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. There's room for some customization, too, though; a person's needs are never just ignored. You can talk about that with your Vivint representative if you like. For now, however, let's just stick with what you can expect in a run-of-the-mill order. The basics, in other words.
Below, you can find a rundown of exactly what that entails:
Vivint's Proprietary SkyControl Control panel
The Vivint Sky mobile app
Vivint Security Cameras (supplement; see entry)
Window / door sensor package
24/7 monitoring by Vivint Security, Inc.
SkyControl by Vivint
Just like any other system, this control panel is the heart of the system, while you and Vivint are its brain and immune system. It works just like you'd expect any other device of its kind to work, and serves the same functions: arming / disarming of your system and operation or exclusion of the various extras you've ordered with your security suite. What sets SkyControl apart is that you can, at need, operate every single feature, from the most basic to the most advanced, from these panels. You're never alone or out of reach of help.
Two-Way Talk by Vivint
OK, hands up: Ever triggered your security system into throwing a false alarm? It happens more often than you'd think. Neighbors, surprise family visitors, delivery guys, neighbor kids looking for little Johnnie or Susan, pets, the list of suspects is endless (we ourselves would never ever do this, of course). It's understandable now and again that such a thing might happen, but too many "accidents" might see you slapped with a fine or on your town's list of problem citizens. Not fun. So, what do you do? Well, if you're a Vivint security member, you use Two-Way Talk and you make the problem disappear.
Integrated directly into your system's control panel, this feature allows you to speak to a Vivint representative directly through one of your home security panels. Why is this a good idea? Well, picture this: You've just tripped an alarm by accident. You've got about 30 seconds before the shrieking in your home starts and a new wail rises to challenge it -- the wail of sirens. Yep. Miss the ordinary security panel's "oops window" closure point, and emergency services are summoned to your home. This is for your safety, of course, and it's not a knock on anyone. But you don't need them, and they aren't fond of wasting time better used helping elsewhere.
The solution? Vivint's Two-Way Talk. Maybe you can't find your phone. Maybe you dropped it in the toilet. Maybe you had too much to drink and smashed it. Maybe a lightning strike fried it. Whatever the case might be, if you're capable of speaking and you secure with Vivint, all you have to do now is tell your representative it was a false alarm. They'll get everything back to normal, and you'll be able to rest easy.
Additionally, the astute reader will note a secondary purpose of the Two-Way Talk feature, namely one's ability to use it in an emergency situation. Captor somehow inside your home and in possession of your phone? Get to your panel, get a few words off to your Vivint representative, and presto -- situation resolved.
It's a mobile world, speaking of phones, and that means you need mobile security. As you might've guessed by now, Vivint's got you covered, this time with a neat cross-platform / device-agnostic app called SkyMobile. You have utter rulership over your home -- it is your castle, after all! -- thanks to this app. Got a bunch of pets or a rowdy troop of kids running about? Tap-tap-tap, and presto! You've just disabled a specific room's motion alarms for a couple hours so they can play in peace (for all of you). Maybe you know you'll be out for a bit and unable to manually set your system up. You can use your mobile to set it for you, or even set auto-alerts to allow remote operation. No more forgotten alarms -- you're always protected, even when you're away from home.
A particularly cool feature for the elderly, for those with small children at home, or for those having just relocated to a new neighborhood is SkyMobile's live camera feed capability. Don't want to open up the door until you know who's ringing the bell? Now you'll never have to. Want to hear the really cool part? You'll have full speech and audio functionality -- you can talk to your visitors the entire time regardless of where you are -- and, if you choose, allow them entry remotely, locking and unlocking your doors at will while remaining in full view and earshot of them at all times.
Vivint's Security Cameras: Getting a Bird's Eye View of Your Security
In just a minute, we'll talk about the sensor package you get with a standard Vivint security system. First, however, we're gonna talk a little bit about their cameras. They are, it must be said, an extra feature, but you might as well buy a house without a front door as buy a security system like this one without a camera network, especially when Vivint's cameras do what these cameras can do. Thus, their inclusion here. No one is obligated to buy anything they aren't ready to, but information is power -- here's your dose, re: cameras.
Vivint's doorbell camera is standard stuff: Somebody rings the doorbell, you glance at your mobile or the SkyControl Control Panel you've just installed, and you see it's someone you don't know. Not only can you see this, but you can also make an audio call to said mystery visitor, who holds up the FedEx box you've been waiting for. Excellent!
Where Vivint really gets cool is their proprietary Ping Camera. Part security camera, part VOIP apparatus, not only does it serve to protect your home from intruders, but it will allow those in your home with the capability to make a video call to you (or anyone else with your home system's Vivint-connected mobile). This utility has an almost unlimited number of applications, from the mundane to the magnificent. Out of milk? Not anymore. Kid's got friends over and they wanna go out someplace? Now you know. The list goes on. All a video call like this takes is a simple button press, the button itself being located atop the camera itself.
Making Sense of Vivint's Sensors
There are so many iterations and types of sensors offered through Vivint that to enumerate them all would take ages. As a standard member, you're offered from two to four sensors, to be placed as you wish. These include, at customer discretion, between two and four window or door sensors, which means if you want all your windows and doors covered -- and you obviously should, because what's the point otherwise? -- you're going to need a few extras. Along with that, you can expect a single motion sensor to pair with your cameras (this is how they're tripped). This is also insufficient; you want to cast as wide a camera net as possible, which means lots of sensors.
Open Sesame: The Vivint System of User Codes
After all the talk of sensors and cameras we've heard so far, it's important to include this side note about the sensors used by Vivint: Customers can expect to utilize a series of individual codes. Designed to allow free movement throughout your home for the holder, the idea is to assign individual pass-codes to yourself, your loved ones, and finally, one for all the other folks you expect to have routine access / entry to the premises -- friends, close workmates, delivery people who are around on a routine basis, out of state family and friends, your children's friends and teachers and the like, and so forth. What does that mean, practically speaking? It means that as long as you have a code from a system owner, you're as free to move about a Vivint-protected home as anyone. If you haven't got one, well, that's what the alarm is for. It also means that, in conjunction with your Vivint system's other features, there won't be a door or window in the house that gets opened without a record of who did it and when.
If something comes up missing, just follow the code trail (and the camera trail, and so on). It won't take long to sleuth out the pilferer. Maybe your toddler is missing. Follow his or her sensor code and make that surprise "game" of hide and seek a heck of a lot shorter. Teen trying to sneak out? See when they left, when they got back, and which of their friends have their codes. Want to troll your adversaries? Give them a code that'll work on every door but the door to the master bedroom and / or your home office, then tell them those rooms are a no-go. Trustworthy folks won't think twice about respecting such a household boundary; the rest will find themselves a guest of the local constabulary soon enough.
Is it a little Orwellian? Perhaps. But when it counts, truly and for real, you won't be thinking about how oppressive it is to have a code on the front door or the entrance to the garage.
One final note: Don't forget to deactivate any codes you no longer need or want to validate! Whatever the reason is, if the person isn't going to be coming back, trash their code. Invalidate it within the system. You can always give them a new one if and when that situation changes. Help with this feature is just a click, call, or Two-Way chat away.
24/7 Monitoring: With Vivint, You're Never Alone
This aspect of your security system is simple and straightforward: There's always somebody at the Vivint home offices keeping an eye on you and your system. Whether it be diagnostics and updates, a question you might have, or a genuine security situation, you can always get a human on the line, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. With Vivint, safety doesn't sleep.
Professional Installation: Done Once, Done Right, Done For You
Again, this one's simple. Vivint sends out a team of professional installers to set up your system and make sure everything is up and running the way it's supposed to be. They won't leave until you're happy and the job's done. One big caveat to this: If you don't have cell service where you are, Vivint probably isn't right for you, since they, at the time of writing, require a cellular connection for system establishment, functionality, and updating. Don't worry, your installer(s) will test the cellular strength in your immediate area before starting work, and advise you of their next steps if a problem pops up. Usually, however, all that happens is that a test is run, the system gets installed, and your security situation gets off to a new and running start.
Vivint Smart Home: Should I Take the Plunge?
The question of whether Vivint home security is any good ought to be a non-issue by now. Instead, the question you, as the reader of this guide, should be asking yourself, is whether or not it fits your individual circumstances. After all, who cares what features Vivint offers if you can't use them for some reason? To that end, why not take a look below and see for yourself whether or not the list of pros and cons can ultimately point you in the right direction. Ready? Here we go.
Vivint Pros and Cons
Let's get the good stuff out of the way first, shall we?
"Feature-rich" is probably the best way to describe what you get when you order a Vivint security system. All home security suites are definitely not created equal, and it shows in their construction, options, and after-installation experience. Vivint does a great job here.
Multiple angles of observation allow you to see, hear, and analyze all the traffic coming into, going out of, and moving in and around your home. This feature is available 24/7, whenever you want to use it, simply by pressing a button.
Logging allows for scrupulous record-keeping by your system, and you never have to lift a finger to make it happen. You'll know who accessed your home and when, down to the second. This can be extraordinarily helpful in situations ranging from the ordinary to the outrageous. You can never have too much information, and Vivint makes sure you've got yours.
Tons of options mean you can always tailor your system to work just as you need it to, whether that's big, small, or somewhere in the middle. Just ask, and Vivint can make it happen ASAP.
A lack of customer issues with everything except Vivint's pricing structure and a related pay-to-augment structure when it comes to their somewhat thin basic package (more on that momentarily) speaks louder than anything -- nothing dings a home security system like a swamp of technical and company issues, and Vivint just doesn't have them. If you need help, you get it, end of story.
You've seen the good news, but there's always another side to the coin, and it's only fair to look at it. Let's do it now.
Pricing seems to be folks' chief complaint when it comes to Vivint. Whether it's that their products are too high in and of themselves or that the company simply operates on a "pay to win" basis, this is people's big complaint, and what drives those who go elsewhere in that direction.
Vivint's modularity can sometimes seem confusing or off-putting to the ordinary citizen, especially when they just want something that works, that's simple and safe, and won't cost them a bundle. By contrast, it seems that Vivint, while delivering exactly what they say they will, requires money at every turn and a whole bevy of "optional" devices and features that end up not being so optional after all -- and they all cost a pretty penny.
The persistent cellular signal requirement is a gigantic flaw in Vivint's operational model, and honestly, it's a deal-breaker for exactly the sort of rural customer who might be inclined to purchase a system. Cell service in the middle of the woods or the desert isn't known for being the best, after all. Even with the good reasons for this bug-slash-feature, it can come as quite a shock to hear your installer say "Thanks, but no thanks" to your offer of business.
When it comes to customer service, there have been isolated reports of it not coming up to standards. This is true of all customer-facing industries, but when it comes to home security, there's little to zero tolerance for anything but top-notch people. After all, customers of a business like this aren't calling for a chat, they're calling about matters of, potentially, life and death.
Well, there you have it. By now, you should have a pretty firm grasp on the good, the bad, and the ugly of everything Vivint has to offer you as a home security system and as a home security company. We hope you found it helpful. Stay safe and thanks for reading!
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