Components and prices
The Blue from ADT Smart Home Hub is the brain of the system. It measures 5.9 x 4.1 x 4.1 inches (HWD) and is the same pearl gray color as the ADT Blue indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras we tested earlier this year. You can also order the hub with a darker graphite finish if you prefer.
The top of the hub contains a 16-key keyboard including 0-9, Stay, Away, Night, and Off. There’s also an embedded microphone and LED indicator strip that glows solid green when the system is deactivated, glows solid blue when activated, blinks blue during an entry or exit delay, blinks red during an alarm, and red and amber in the event of a hub failure changes his internet connection. Under the hood there is a 2.4 GHz WLAN radio, a Z-Wave radio, a Bluetooth circuit and a 4G LTE cellular network. In addition, the hub contains a 24-hour backup battery, a loudspeaker and an 85 dB siren.
You can order a preconfigured security system or create your own and add to it as you wish. The Smart Hub is priced at $ 159.99 and comes with a free 30-day trial for professional monitoring (more on monitoring later). The $ 199.99 Starter System comes with the hub, two door / window sensors, an advertising sign, four window stickers, and a 30-day surveillance attempt. The Starter Plus System for $ 279.99 gives you everything from the Starter System but includes four door / window window sensors and two motion detectors.
Blue by ADT doesn’t have quite as many sensors and components as FrontPoint and SimpliSafe, but the door and window sensors ($ 14.99 each), motion detectors ($ 24.99), and flood sensors ($ 34.99) are inexpensive and can be purchased anytime Third party components compatible with IFTTT and Z-Wave are added. With Blue by ADT cameras, however, you pay more than with FrontPoint and SimpliSafe. The Blue by ADT indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras are $ 199.99, while SimpliSafe is $ 169 for the doorbell camera, $ 99 for the indoor camera, and an additional $ 19.99 to convert to an outdoor camera calculated. FrontPoint sells a SkyBell doorbell camera for $ 149.99, an indoor camera for $ 99.99, and an outdoor camera for $ 169.99. All ADT blue cameras give you access to the last 24 hours of recorded video. But if you need access to older videos, a $ 2.99 per month storage plan gives you access to the last 60 days.
You can monitor the Blue by ADT system yourself or pay for professional monitoring. If you choose to use self-monitoring, you can take full advantage of the mobile app and receive notifications on your mobile devices. However, you are responsible for calling the authorities in the event of an emergency like a break-in or a fire, and you won’t get cellular backup if your WiFi goes down. Professional surveillance doesn’t require a contract and is relatively affordable: for $ 19.99 a month, you can get 24-hour surveillance where the response center tries to call you or a specific contact before contacting the authorities. The monitoring plan also gives you cellular backups and cellular texts when an alarm is triggered. For comparison, SimpliSafe charges $ 14.99 for a basic plan that includes 24/7 coverage.
The Blue by ADT security system uses the same mobile app as its security cameras for Android and iOS devices. A dashboard screen will open with a button for activating and deactivating the system, under which you will see a historical list of events (triggered sensors, activating, deactivating). When you activate the system, you can put it in stay mode (entry delays on, motion off), away mode (entry delays on, motion on) or night mode (entry delays off, motion off). Scroll to the bottom of the screen to see a Crime Watch card, which shows recently reported theft, vandalism, assault, and other crimes in your area.
Tap the two bars in the upper left corner of the dashboard to access a menu where you can add components, configure alerts, and access device settings. On the Users tab, you can add users to the system and create profiles with specific permissions. An administrator has full access to all functions and a standard user can monitor and control the system, but has limited access to the administrative settings. The basic user can activate and deactivate the system, and the forced user receives a code that deactivates the system and silently sends the police home.
The Devices tab opens a screen with a list of all installed devices and their status (online, offline). Tap on a device to change its properties (alarm type, placement) and to configure the entry delay times. Tap the plus symbol to add new devices. On the Alerts tab, you can create custom alerts for all components or alarm events, as well as activate alerts when the network or cellular connection is lost or when a device experiences technical problems.
Use the Rules tab to create home automation systems. Here you can create rules according to which Blue by ADT devices such as sensors and cameras can trigger each other, as well as all installed Z-Wave devices such as lights, thermostats and garage door openers. The Settings tab takes you to a screen where you can edit location, billing, and monitoring plan information. You can also run system tests, enable push notifications, and access the same device property settings as described above.
The Blue by ADT security system doesn’t support Apple’s HomeKit platform (at least not yet), but it works with voice commands from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and supports IFTTT applets that it can use to interact with other smart home devices.
Installation and performance
ADT sent me a hub, two door / window sensors, a motion sensor, and a flood / temperature sensor to test, all of which were easy to install. I first downloaded the mobile app, created an account, and entered my address information. Next, I selected Security System in the setup screen and then selected the Smart Home Hub. I tapped Get Started and followed the instructions to put the hub in a central location and turn it on. I connected the hub to my home WiFi network, entered my WiFi password and waited a few minutes for a firmware update. After the hub was updated, I gave it a name and tapped Start Device Setup to add my sensors (you can do this later if you prefer).
The sensors are pre-registered. So I just had to select the sensor from the list and follow the placement instructions. I started with a door / window sensor, installed it on a door using the double sided tape that came with it, and gave it a name. I pulled the plastic battery tab off the back of the main sensor and it was coupled to the hub in seconds. I repeated this with the second door / window sensor and moved on to the high water and temperature sensor.
In order to install the high water / temperature sensor I was directed to take off the top cover and remove the battery tab. Again the sensor was immediately coupled to the hub. To install the motion sensor, I gave it a name, pulled the battery tab, and it instantly paired.
In order to complete the setup, I was asked to verify my Master Passcode and created a surveillance passcode that can be used to verify my identity when dealing with the surveillance center. I entered my emergency contact information, set up notifications, and the installation was complete. It’s important to note that the first time you install the system, it defaults to a seven-day training period so you can get used to it without worrying about contacting the authorities.
The Blue by ADT system worked well when tested. It responded instantly to enabling and disabling commands from both the hub and the mobile app, and the embedded keyboard keys responded. That said, it would be nice if the keyboard keys were backlit as they can’t be seen in the dark.
Text, email, and in-app notifications arrived instantly when one of the sensors was triggered. I created a rule to receive push notifications when the back door was opened and they came quickly too. The built-in siren is loud enough and the flood and motion sensors worked perfectly.
With the Blue by ADT Home Security System you can start small and add components as needed. You can self-monitor your home using the mobile app, or pay $ 20 a month for professional 24/7 monitoring. Add-on components are easy to install, and you can add numerous Z-Wave home automation devices like lights, switches, garage door openers, and thermostats and control them all from the same app. This versatile system also supports voice commands from Alexa and Google, works with third-party smart devices that use IFTTT applets, and runs flawless tests. However, SimpliSafe charges less for additional cameras and surveillance, which gives it an edge and keeps our editors’ choice.
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