Thursday, May 9, 2013

ISmart Alarm - Is it really that Smart??? An honest review of the ISmart Alarm

Picture of Preferred PackageI just stumbled across what at the very first moment I saw it screamed "Toilet Alarm" When looking through the spec's of the uber hyped "Ismart Alarm" the first thing which concerned me was, of course, the wireless aspect. Oddly enough, I did really give the ISmartAlarm an honest look through as far as the specs went, so here is what I discovered in my review of the ISMART ALARM.

The ISmart Alarm Camera - First of all, this camera is pretty much a standard off the shelf wifi camera available for half the price by simply searching for wireless ip camera. So why the hype??? I guess you need a camera in the ISmart Alarm because of the high false alarm potential of wireless alarm systems.

The ISmart Alarm App - Nothing overly special here which is not available through many other alarm system apps, however, what happens if your cell phone battery dies or you are out of range and cannot receive the Push notification? not to mention the added data usage of monitoring your IP Camera via your cell phone data plan. I read something where ISmart Alarms was going to have their Ismart Alarm dial 911. Well, I can tell you right now the police departments will be right on banning this feature as soon as they realise the number of false alarms due to the wireless sensors in the ISmart Alarm

The ISmartAlarm Wireless Sensors - Speaking of the wireless sensors which come with the ISmart Alarm, with all the hype around the whole Wifi component of the ISmart Alarm, one would assume the ISmart Sensors operate on the same platform... Well, that would be incorrect. The ISmart Alarm Wireless contacts and motion detector specs are as follows:

  • ISmart Alarm Wireless Door Window Sensor Frequency: 908MHZ

  • ISmart Alarm Wireless Door Window Sensor Range: UNDER 100m ( Outdoor, open space)which means far less inside your home.

So what does 908 MHZ mean when it comes to the review of the ISmart Alarm? Well first of all, the ISmart Alarm wireless transmitters operate on a frequency which when placed in close proximity to a WIFI device.... um like the the ISmart Alarm CubeOne, will clash. This means both ISmart Alarm wireless technologies cannot coexist in the same area and will in fact defeat each other. So not only will your WIFI suffer, as clearly indicated in the lacklustre range of the ISmart Alarm Wireless Door Window Sensor specification, the range of the ISmart Alarm Wireless devices will also suffer, if not completely fail.

The ISmart Alarm Warranty... Or Lack Thereof - This is the part which really caught me by surprise. The folks over at ISmart Alarm do not even trust their own technology enough to offer any kind of warranty of guarantee with their initial product roll out. Do I really need to go any further?

I guess the one good thing about the ISMART ALARM is with the current price point, at least you won't be loosing much if it fails, oh ya right, the valuables in your home.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2GIG Technologies Go Control Wireless tries to look high tech

I just stumbled across an article about someone (Who will remain unnamed) within the security alarm industry and his move over to 2gig technologies. This prompted me to do a little research on the company. It seems the gang over at APX are using it so it must be crap... or at least cheap.

Cheap does not always mean bad so I looked a little further. Well, first of all, the security alarm portion of the 2Gig Go Control system is completely wireless. Not good touchscreen or not.

Looking a little further, 2Gig is touting the 2 gig technologies Go Control as a complete home automation system stating "Make any home a smart home." I will be the first to admit smart home technology is highly overpriced for what it is. The thing is, cheap Home Automation "Solutions" such as the 2Gig Go Control bring back nightmares of X-10 and what they were trying to do.

So what is the 2Gig Go Control you ask. Well, from initial review, I see it as nothing more than a souped up DSC Alexor, GE Simon, Paradox Magellan, Alarmforce, Honeywell Lynx, Snif or any of the other wireless wannabe security alarm system pieces of trash. I really wish the alarm manufacturers would get a grip on reality and realise security alarms are serious business. Security alarm systems are not toys, security alarm systems need to be able to withstand the attack of a potential intruder. A transistor radio sized box mounted on the wall by the front door and containing the entire 'Brains' of your security system is not real security. I don't care how fancy you make it and how many functions it can do, this type of wireless 'security alarm system' is just a fancier toilet alarm. It just looks a little nicer before the would be intruder steps on it, rendering the 2gig technologies Go Control home automation security alarm control panel totally useless when compared to its' hardwired counterpart.

Sorry guys, I did take an honest look at the 2gig Go Control security alarm system and just do not like it, even with the cheesy little touchscreen and online demo. I will continue to stick to hardwired security alarm systems as well as automation systems. When it comes to wireless and security alarm systems, I firmly believe it should only be used for systems which much be portable as well as cellular communications to the monitoring station. Of course, cellular communications uses a completely different type of wireless. If this technology was deployed in security alarm system sensors, they would be financially out of reach for consumers. So to those mooks and boneheads who like to use cellular phones as a defence for wireless security systems... get a grip.

Controlling lighting via wireless is not as bad, but that is only because lighting does not tend to be mission critical. So what if a little interference stops your lights from being able to be remotely turned on. It is not as if you are relying on this function to contact the fire department if your house catches on fire, or notify the police if you are being broken into.

Friday, July 3, 2009


This topic is very close to my heart, as a technician, I have always felt many alarm sales people lacked integrity, honesty and the basic technical knowledge to properly represent a security alarm installation company. Of course, in the eyes of many, sales has more to do with the ability to close a deal than actual knowledge of what you are selling. After all, if the average consumer knew anything about security alarms, they would probably try to install them themselves or, at the very least, they would not fall for these crap sales oriented companies. This is by no means saying all security alarm sales people are douche bags, just enough of them to make the industry look bad.

So who is my target today? In the past, I have exposed several alarm companies including ADT, Alarmforce and other Discount alarm companies for either their crap systems or their marketing misrepresentations. Today the topic is much more urgent and really quite serious. Although several companies, including ADT, have been known for their "Summertime Sales" promotions. This is when a company hires students right out of high school (and often in high school) to do door to door sales of their security alarms. Although door to door sales is often a necessity in many home service type businesses, there needs to be a line drawn in the sand.

If there was in fact a line in the sand, APX Alarms would have long stepped all over it and kicked sand in the eyes of the person drawing the line. I am by no means saying every APX alarm sales person is a douche, but from what I have heard and read many of them are severely lacking in knowledge and scruples. I have been personally told, APX Alarms instructs their sales people that nothing is sacred with respect to closing the deal.

How do I know this, well it is quite an interesting story. About a week ago I heard a knock at my door. When I answered it a very young male dressed quite nicely was at the door with some pamphlets. As I have security alarm stickers on my window, and a keypad right by my door it was obvious I had a security alarm system. His first words were, "Hello, I am from the alarm company and I need to talk to you about your security system." Having heard of APX Alarms and their sales techniques, I withheld my anger and disdain and let the young punk in (fully knowing he was not from my alarm company as I am the owner.) After a few prodding questions and comments about an apparent "Crime spree in the neighbourhood" it became evident he was in fact not from my security alarm company and was in fact from APX. He went on to say how the owner of the company who was taking care of my alarm system was in fact being charged with stealing from his customers (Odd, did I miss something)

Still withholding my anger, I played along for abit. The sales person went on to say the security system I had installed was old and out of date and did not provide sufficient protection. Hmmm, fully automated home with a hardwired security alarm system consisting of glassbreak detectors, motion detectors, contacts on every window, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor plus a water sensor by the hot water tank, with cellular, landline and IP alarm reporting... ya ok that is out of date and full of holes.

He went on to say APX Alarms was affiliated with Honeywell Security Systems and was therefor able to get better equipment than anyone else in the industry. That is odd, Honeywell is no longer in the alarm installation business.

This APX alarms sales person went on to say he could replace my "out of date security system" with a "High Tech Wireless Honeywell Security System." Now that was funny. With-holding my laughter, I played dumb and asked what was so wrong with the security alarm system I had. Now this is where it gets really funny. Without missing a beat, this teen aged punk continued on to tell me how the APX system was superior because it talked and how my system was garbage and could be bypassed by someone simply cutting the wires. Hmmm, what wires I said (not telling him my system also had voice control and could be accessed and controlled over secure internet.) He quickly responded "The wires going to your doors and windows." Keep in mind, all the wires are hidden in the walls. Furthermore, he said, "criminals now have code scramblers and they are able to disarm your particular alarm system by putting a special black box next to your keypad."

At that point I could not hold back, I informed the little punk APX alarm sales person that he was completely full of crap and requested to see his security alarm sales licence. Of course, he did not have one. When I told him I actually owned the alarm company he was bad mouthing, he quickly switched gears and tried to suck up for a job. This APX alarm sales person said he was simply trying to get into the alarm sales business and responded to APX alarms "No Experience required" advertisement. He told me they taught him everything about how to close a deal and how he would be able to help my company make millions.

Being a little interested in their "techniques" I inquired a little further. He went on to say, the sales trainer at APX alarms told me all I need to do is induce fear because fear is the biggest reason people choose to install security alarm systems. He was gloating about how the area sales manager for APX alarms listens to a police scanner to target certain area's which have been hit by a recent break-in's. He seemed really excited and wanted to go on further but I kicked him out of my house. Unfortunately I forgot to get his name as he needed to be reported.

As if that wasn't enough, I heard my brother and a family friend in another city have also had similar experiences. When I first got into the security alarm industry 25 some-odd years ago, I found it hard to believe a company would be running the risk of bold faced lying to get a sale. Unfortunately this is still a practice used by many security alarm sales people in the industry. APX alarms is not the first and I'm sure they will not be the last. What is truly scary is that this appears to be a practice used on a national basis. Normally I try to stay away from slamming a company as hard as I just did and I try to skirt around the issues. This time I felt it was important to out-right explain my experience in detail. Fear should NEVER be used to sell anything. This is a very cruel thing to do to a person and I am beyond angry that APX Alarms is doing this.

I am located in Eastern Canada, I do not know how far APX has gone with their Summer Promotion, however their website indicated they are targeting most of Canada and pretty much all of the United States. They do not appear to have service departments set-up and utilise contractors on piece work. What this means is, if something goes wrong with your alarm system or you have a simple question which requires a technician to visit. Your service will be taken care of by the lowest bidder in their pool of sub-contractors. I don't know what APX Alarms' service policy is however you will most likely be billed well over $150 per hour for any technician visit. A battery change could end up costing you as much as $500.

If you feel comfortable with the APX alarms sales person who visited your home and you decide to go with them, please read the contract in detail. Make sure you understand what you are getting into and ask clear and concise questions. If possible, get any promises in writing signed by someone within management of APX Alarms. This also applies to any consumer purchase, especially ones which involve door to door sales.

Good Luck, and I hope I answered all of your questions. FYI, the alarm system APX Alarms is offering for "FREE" is on promo at the wholesalers this month for $97 CAD. This is quite easily covered by the first few months of monitoring fee's. Remember, nothing in life is free.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

DSC ALEXOR... More wireless crap

Once again, DSC (AKA Dealers second choice) has unveiled what is rapidly becoming the new direction for money first quality second based security alarm companies. It seems more and more, alarm companies are more interested in volume over value. DSC's ALEXOR - PC9155 is a prime example of this sad truth. To emphasize the whole speedy install factor, DSC is even holding a competition at ISC West to see which "Installer" can "install" the new DSC ALEXOR - PC 9155 panel the fastest.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, or maybe I like to take my time to make sure an installation is done properly but does this contest say anything for the concern of properly installed systems in the eyes of DSC? Not too coincidentally, DSC is owned by TYCO which not surprisingly also owns one of the Douchebag companies of the industry ADT.

In conclusion. In the eyes of DSC, AKA TYCO ergo ADT is. Drum roll please install as many security alarm systems as fast as you can who cares about quality or actual home security. Of course the TYCO marketing spin doctors will definitely come up with a positive spin on their new alarm
This is everything. The "brain" the part that needs only be
tossed into a toilet to disable it. This one is empty, just like
the security promises of DSC

Remember... Wireless Security Systems will NEVER beat Hardwired Security Systems in quality, reliability or longevity. The only "advantage" to a wireless security system is the speed and ease of installation. Not always the best advantage to look at when you are protecting your valuables, be it pecuniary or human.

Oh ya, DSC now manufactures much their equipment in China

Monday, October 6, 2008

Something From the CBC on Alarmforce

When Ian Harvey's home was broken into, he decided to have an alarm installed. He remembered an advertisement he'd caught from a company called Alarm Force. Harvey gave Alarm Force a call.
"It was a quick, clean, ten minute installation," Harvey recalls. "The system was simple and ... we seemed fine."
But a few months later, Harvey's house was targetted again.
"Somebody came along and smashed in the front door," says Harvey. "Just splintered it into matchwood [and] got into the house."

Alarm Force wouldn't agree to an interview with Marketplace...

Saturday, September 20, 2008


NOT Alarmforce anymore.We have had Alarm Force for 10 years and now we are going away from it due to their one-man service. "Free"is good until you have a problem. their system shorted the phone line ( relay locked open probably) and cooked the high speed modem ($79.95 plus tax) but the fellow refused to admit any problem, and insulted my friend the phone line fellow. then he said we should have been running a full test of the system every month. then he suggested over the phone a "hard reset" of the system. I wanted another unit; he didn't want to do that and said again that "you can never be too sure with the phone system"I'm going local with the ADT all in one price, and they have a line check they do every month for problems. AND no extra charges for battery service.AlarmForce, the main unit, which they own, has to have the battery replaced $100 plus sooner or later, 3 or 4 years max.If we were broken into would they say the system was not at fault because we didn't test it every month?There are problems getting calls back within 2 days, and I heard it cost one older lady $200 to have him come and check and replace her batteries throughout the house.Certainly something similar I know of happened to my folks, $100 plus to check the batteries.I'm not happy with service, a one man show.Me? I'm an Electro-mechanical research gadget builder and know a little bit about this over the last 30 years, so to hear it passed off on the phone company again when I was there with the meter in my hand- well that's just crap.- Unknown

Anonymous said...
This guy is a moron. I do not have an alarm service yet and was doing some research to see if there were any issues/complaints about the company. I want to add, that I worked for a security company for 14 years as a service technician. The way an alarm system works is a sensor connected to the main control panel triggers an alarm event when armed. This in turn, activates the dialer inside the control panel. The dialer does a couple of things then. 1 - The dailer relay which is a dry contact NO VOLTAGE what so ever, changes position/toggles to check for dial tone. When the control panel senses the dial tone, it then dials - hence the name - a preprogrammed number, just like a redial on your phone. The monitoring center is then called, again just like your phone at your house. Data is normally exchanged between the Control Panel and the Monitoring Center and then the Control Panel hangs up. The more likely cause is that the phone line probably took a surge that back fed the Control Panel, fused the relay shut and continued to the next device, the modem. This guy probably doesn't realize this but the alarm probably took the brunt of the surge and slowed it down. He is lucky that all his phones in the house were not damaged. You see in order for the alarm to have priority over other phones in your house, it is usually the first in line if installed properly. In 14 years, I have seen my share of cooked phone lines and equipment. NEVER was it the cause of the alarm system. IT IS A LOW VOLTAGE SYSTEM! It operates in most cases at 12 volts DC and pulls realitively no noticeable current unless the siren is sounding during an alarm. The a/c transformer is usually 12-18VAC. The same as a cordless phone. Come on you Thomas Edison want to be - Don't talk about things you don't understand.
June 28, 2007 5:40 AM

Anonymous said...
ADT Isn't the Greatest Solution either. They are just as bad when it comes to scamming the consumer... They just do it on a larger scale.As far as Dialer tests go, they are useless unless they are done daily. With how overleaded the receiver lines at ADT are, they generally ignore 1 fail to test, sometimes even 2. In this scenario, you will not find out about a buggered panel for up to 3 months. Yes, some panels will indicate a failure to communicate trouble, however ADT disables that on most of their panels because they do not want extra service calls.In addition, ADT has a 30 to 45 second Abort Delay STANDARD. What this means is if a crackhead breaks into your home, they have the initial 30 seconds to do whatever. Once the alarm starts to ring, they have up to an additional 40 seconds to find your panel and destroy it. This is not difficult as most ADT Systems are wireless and the whole alarm is on the keypad, or the panel is right next to the siren.... Not hard to find that with the siren ringing and the panel doing squat for 40 seconds. That is over 1 minute of useless alarm people. Think about it.
May 19, 2008 7:07 PM
Anonymous said...
I have worked for an security alarm compeny for a little over 5 year 3.5 as tech 1.5+ as an inspector. Alarmforce should be called Alarmfarce. The sytem they use is antiquated by design. What i mean is the technoligy is at least 20 years old. Also most of their customers use the phone to arm/disarm system (can you say redail!!!!!) also they do NOT have phone line siezure which means that if the phone is off hook it can NOT call out or if the Bulglar calls in it can NOT call out. Placement of the panel is another story. The kichen counter or behind a couch is good enough?? Next most devices are 2-way taped on?? Also for the first 30 to 90 seconds the "operator" you hear is a recording until a live operator can get to your alarm. Next and most important Joel advertises his 2-way as a good way to confirm alarms only thing is if the bulglar is queit the it goes the same way as any other alarm unverified. Next if it is a robbery in progress and the operator comes on after you press your panic button i really hope you are wearing a bullet proof jacket>>>>
June 20, 2008 12:37 PM

Some Alarmforce Stories

Hopefully this information keeps others for falling into the Joel Matlin Alarmforce trap

AlarmForce Annoyance
Published by Cameron at 7:54 am under Business, Customer Service, General, Technology
Since I seem to be on a bit of a rant this morning, I figure, why stop at toy recalls!
I have had an alarm system from AlarmForce for a couple years now. Overall, I’m not very impressed with there alarm system. They advertise a free alarm system, but there “free system” doesn’t include much, so you end up buying lots of add-ons to actually make it worth having an alarm from them. Without getting into the technical details, I’ll just say
that in my line of work, I’ve seem considerable better equiped systems out there. But until my contract is up in another 2 years, I’m stuck with them.
Back to my point though. About a week ago, I started getting a message from my system that it has a low system battery. So, I called up the Technical Support line, and was told that for $19, they’ll mail me a new battery. Maybe it’s me, but this seems like a load of crap. I did not have to purchase the system itself, I have not done ANYTHING to the system that would cause this “rechargable” battery to not hold a charge, and yet, after 2 years, it won’t charge. Personally, I think that they should replace it free, and send someone out with it. If the power goes out now, and someone breaks in, I don’t have an alarm. You’ll be sure that I’ll be holding AlarmForce accountable then.
Maybe I’m wrong.. But I don’t feel like a “valued customer”.. certainly not a satisfied one.
3 Responses to “AlarmForce Annoyance”
# AlarmForce - The Follow-Up Post! « Cam I Amon 03 Oct 2007 at 8:17 pm
[…] I’d leave a follow-up comment on AlarmForce. A few weeks ago, I put a post up about my disatisfaction with how AlarmForce handled my back-up battery replacement. The battery arrived, about three days after this post. […]
# Jonon 17 May 2008 at 12:30 pm
In April, 2008, Alarm Force stopped my wireless line cut protection without notifying me that they required a system upgrade, yet continuted withdrawing money from my account for both April and May 2008. They told me I wasn’t being monitored at all. So for two months they were stealing my money and providing no service!
Alarm Force refuses to release me from the contract even though they broke their end of the contract! I have contacted the Better Business Bureau, my bank is investigating, and I am also going to contact my State Attorney General’s Office.
Alarm Force is a total fraud. They stole my money for two straight months and did not provide the service I signed for. Further, they tried to extort me into paying for a system upgrade at the same time they told me I was not being monitored!!! Either I pay more money than I signed for in the original contract, or I am not monitored! Yet, they want to lock me into this contract for the remainder of the term or force me to pay the remainder of the contract which would be almost $550. Yea right….. they’ll never see a dime. And if they put it on my credit, I will fight them to the bitter end in court.
Alarm Force is OUTRAGEOUS.
# Fredon 24 May 2008 at 8:57 am
Alarmforce ?Duh !.I complained to the installer that the cat would trigger the motion detector. He ignored me. The cat did set off the alarm and I got a $75 bill from the municipality for a false alarm call. I called Alarmforce - they were RUDE, and said “how can we know why it happened, we weren’t there”.
They are still sending invoices with GST at 6% for services received in 2008 !.
Joel Matlin - “Mr. Cardboard Cut-Out” - you suck, bite me !