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Insteon Connected Kit review: Strong lighting controls; weak app integration

Becky Waring | Jan. 29, 2015
Insteon's Connected Kit is a very inexpensive, but its weak camera and clumsy installation procedures (in some areas, but not others) drag down our opinion of the system as a whole.

On the upside, it has a built-in motion sensor, infrared LED illumination for night-time viewing, and it can pan over a 300-degree range and tilt over a 120-degree arc. You can set it up to record video clips to a folder on your computer's hard drive when its motion sensor is triggered, and it will send email alerts with images attached when it does.

You're supposed to be able to use the app to set up the camera, but it failed during several attempts. So I resorted to reading the manual and configured it using port forwarding and dynamic DNS so I could use its browser-based interface. You must connect the camera directly to your router via ethernet and then move it to where you want it to operate using Wi-Fi.

If I had been setting up the camera on a weekday, I could have availed myself of Insteon's excellent toll-free support--a service the company actively encourages you to make use of. That's a rarity in the consumer-electronics market). Insteon's tech-support folks will set up port forwarding and solve networking issues for you by taking control of your Mac or PC (just be sure you know your router password before you call). Support is not available on weeknights or Sundays, though, which is when most DIYers will need it.

I set up a kitty cam to keep tabs on my cat while I was away, and the live feed worked well even over LTE. I could pan and tilt the camera to find him no matter where was in the room, and the infrared night vision provided a clear picture.

Insteon's app lets you watch live video on your smartphone or tablet, but it has no provision for watching recorded video. As such, it's no competition for newer IP cameras such as Dropcam or Simplicam. And the fact that you can't trigger other Insteon devices, such as lights, without first leaving the camera's user interface renders it inferior to the camera that comes with the recently reviewed Peq connected-home system or the camera that comes with the Lowes Iris system. In Insteon's favor, there are no monthly subscription fees to pay (both the Peq and the Iris systems cost $10 per month for full functionality).

Is Insteon the right choice for you?
I'd be a lot more enthusiastic about Insteon if its security camera and mobile app weren't so weak, and if there was a more sophisticated means of configuring its sensors. The thermostat is pretty bad, too, but there's a workaround--as long as you like the Nest.

Insteon's inventory of connected-home components is deep and wide in most areas, yet it offers only three types of connected LED bulbs--and those are expensive. The bottom line: Insteon is a very good connected-home system, but the weaknesses I've described keep it from being one of the truly great ones.

 

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