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Piper NV review: Icontrol adds night vision to its connected-home hub/security camera

Michelle Mastin | Jan. 22, 2015
When we got our hands on the original Icontrol Piper in July 2014, we concluded that the security-camera/Z-Wave-hub combo had room to grow. The addition of night vision (a $70 premium over the original device, which remains available) is a good step forward for the hardware, but the Piper's true potential remains untapped.

I also ran into connection issues. While my events list wasn't full of disconnect notices, I did spend a fair bit of time watching a spinning circle waiting for the app to establish a connection with the Piper, only to have it fail, then connect on the second try. That's a lot of waiting when a loud thud comes from the toddler's room during naptime and I want to know what caused it (it's usually just a cat jumping off of something).

I was frustrated by gaps in functionality while working in a multi-Piper set up. You can't create zones, for example. Every rule you define applies to every Piper in your network. If the Piper down in my garage detects motion, every Piper records video. What's even more bothersome is that if I wanted the garage Piper's siren to go off if a door/window sensor indicates there might be an intruder, the Piper in my son's bedroom will blast away, too.

Is it worth the upgrade?

If you already own a Piper system and you're satisfied with it, the night vision that the Piper NV offers will be a worthy addition. If you're considering a Piper for the first time, know that it will let you control your home's lighting and small appliances, keep track of what's happening in and around your home, and it will monitor your home's environment.

Beyond that, the Piper system is very limited — especially in comparison to some other DIY systems. Lowes' Iris product line, for instance, has expanded significantly in the two-plus years that it's been available and can now control or monitor everything from your irrigation system to your electric water heater (a re-review of the Iris system is in the works, by the way).

The only Z-Wave add-ons that Icontrol officially supports on the Piper are smart plugs and dimmers, a smart switch, door/window sensors, and a Z-Wave range extender. It can't even control your thermostat. 

On the upside, Icontrol doesn't tack any subscription fees — optional or otherwise — onto the Piper's price tag. Still, if you're looking for a comprehensive connected-home system, you should make sure Piper fits all  your needs before committing to it. 


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