Vivint Smart Home: Converting an Old-School Household to High-Tech

I’m going to start this review by admiting that I’m just about as technologically inept as anyone I know.

My family and I are what you call “Old School.” I still ride a human-powered rusty beach cruiser, prefer manual transmission vehicles, regularly use my checkbook, and thoroughly enjoy pulling out my 35mm film camera for outdoor adventures. And my little clan is no different (even my two small kids). We don’t play video games, we don’t talk to Alexa, and our phones are several generations old. We’re comfortable with analog things, and up until recently, were timid to see what the tech world might hold.

That all being said, we were the perfect test subjects to turn our 50-year-old house “smart.”

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Photo: Courtesy of Vivint

However, with the headache of self-installation looming on the horizon, we weren’t too excited about the whole endeavor. That was until we found Vivint.

As one of the only smart home companies that actually includes professional installation, this was major selling point for us. I don’t like cables and cords, dialing in connectivity, optimizing range, etc. Things like that are above my pay grade, which is why I prefer to leave that to the experts. This system is designed to make the entire operation easy and affordable for the average homeowner, regardless of their tech savvy.

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Photo: Courtesy of Vivint

What is Vivint Smart Home?

With just about anything and everything you could want in a smart home, Vivint offers the complete package. From the sophisticated (and elegantly designed) smart hub that operates all of the smart tech throughout your home, to the exterior security cameras, smart doorbell, interior cameras, window/door sensors, smart thermostat, smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, vehicle diagnostics devices, and garage door control––you can customize whatever you wish to fit your home and family’s needs.

The best part? They install everything for you in a very professional manner with trained technicians that walk you through the whole thing. (Kind of like a senior giving a freshman the campus tour on the first day of school.)

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Photo: Courtesy of Vivint

It’s all integrated into one platform that you can control from the smart hub on your wall, or anywhere on the planet from the Vivint app on your mobile device. Get notifications in real time, be alerted when a person is detected lingering outside, and even protect packages when left on your doorstep.

Not to mention, 24/7 customer support is just a phone call away for any questions or concerns—they’ll even contact you if they detect any suspicious activity at your home while you’re away.

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Photo: Courtesy of Vivint

Why We Liked It

For starters, we were just stoked to be able to operate it (which is huge for my wife and I). Following a quick 20 minute walk-though with the technician to go over all of the operations following the installation, we were confident we’d be able to navigate all of the features on our own. (And since then, we’ve been breezing through the intuitive interface and easy-to-follow menu navigation.)

This system truly has it all. With two small kiddos on our hands, this system has given us peace-of-mind when it comes to their safety and security. We’re notified when a window gets cracked or a door opens. For two curious little knuckleheads, it gives us assurance that we know what they’re up to throughout the house at any given moment.

Not to mention, the door lock keypads make entry into the house a breeze. Even our five-year-old can lock the door when we leave and type the four-digit code when we get back (they really get a kick out of this whole operation). We haven’t had to bring keys with us when we go into the cul-de-sac to hang out with neighbors, and we can even lock/unlock all of our doors from down the street on our phone if need be.

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Photo: Courtesy of Vivint

The remote garage operation is one of my favorite features. Previously, we only had one opener for the whole house. So, if we lost that, we’d really be up the creek. But now, we can open/close and monitor the garage from anywhere. Have you ever left your house, been 10 minutes away, and then realized you weren’t sure if you closed the garage? Us too. Vivint eliminated that problem as our garage door is now visible and operable from our phones.

The smart thermostat is another slick feature. We can be laying in bed, feel a bit chilly, and immediately turn up the heat to a precise temperature with a few taps on our phone. (Same goes with A/C, if you have it.) You can even integrate this whole system with Alexa. Simply say “Alexa, tell Vivint to lock all the doors” before you go to sleep, and bada-bing, done. This also applies to the thermostat, garage doors, etc. It’s an awesome feature that we never knew we’d enjoy so much.

Probably the marquee feature for us is the security cameras. The full HD, night vision cameras have an ultra-wide field-of-view, which means you can monitor almost an entire block if you place it at a high vantage point. You can program the camera to notify you when a person walks by, when a person is “lingering,” when a package gets delivered, and the camera will even send out a deterrent sound should someone get too close (we opted for the whistle sound. It’s a stern yet pleasant noise that’s hard to ignore). You can speak remotely through your phone to the camera, as well as deploy a security alarm should something serious occur.

The smaller cousin of the cameras is the smart doorbell. It has all of the functions and capabilities of the cameras, but it’s conveniently placed right at your door with an electronic doorbell ring. You can speak to people at the front door through the smart hub, so you can communicate with delivery people, as well as show your disinterest to solicitors at a distance (one of our favorite uses). You can also set up an indoor camera(s) wherever you wish in order to keep tabs on what’s going on in the other room(s).

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Photo: Courtesy of Vivint

As for added security measures, all of the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are integrated and will alert you immediately upon a detected hazard. It’ll even notify the Vivint team, and they will contact emergency services should you not be home. This makes for much less worrisome travel.

When you leave, you can “arm” the alarm system and then control/monitor everything from your phone. Should someone enter the house and not be able to disarm within the pre-selected time frame, then yourself, Vivent, and the authorities will be notified. Again, it makes for much less stress while being away for extended periods of time.

For anybody looking to do short-term rentals with their home, this system is a must-have. It gives you the capability to monitor everything happening at your home, and even giving you the power to customize a “Guest Code” so they can let themselves in and control the functions of the whole house straight from the smart hub, without a fuss.

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Photo: Courtesy of Vivint

Nitpick

We’ve actually found ourselves being much more surveillent around the neighborhood since getting this system. Anytime we get notified that someone is lingering, or if a vehicle has been detected out front of our driveway, we leer out the window curtains like a couple of teenagers, waiting for the culprit to do something bad. However, they have not yet, and then we saunter back to the couch. But that’s hardly a nitpick of the system and more of a flaw with our nosiness.

If you’re in the market to get a smart home system, Vivint is the one-stop-shop. While we don’t really have experience with other systems out there, Vivint was simply a pleasure from start-to-finish. And we’ve gotten so used to the features, that I can’t imagine not having them anymore. We’ve been converted, and we couldn’t be happier.

If you’re new to all of this (as we were), then I’d suggest taking a good look into what Vivint has to offer. You won’t be left feeling sold short.

[Prices vary; vivint.com]

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