Piper NV WiFi Security Camera exceeds expectations in every way.
Over the past year I have been on a mission, to make my dumb house smarter. Often, it is I that is the dumb one, and I find my house was smarter than it seemed. My home has a wireless alarm system, and it has for the past 5 years. I do think that this technology has driven me to find newer and better ways to protect my family and secondarily my property. It is not enough to have a camera, a closed loop system or a WiFi connected device. Our devices need to talk to each other, to link and to utilize accessories like fingers of a hand. Piper, powered by Icontrol Networks is a smart home security system. Well, that is not exactly accurate, as this device is so much more. Let us say, it is the brains that allows you to know what’s going on in your castle: motion, doors, lighting, temperature, humidity and with extra accessories available through Piper, so much more. Icontrol Networks has a vision “to provide a connected home solution for every household, so people worldwide spend less time managing their lies and more time living them.” As a father, husband, physician, my time is spread thin and I want to know that my family is safe. This is a vision that I can understand and one that I also share.
The Piper Website at getpiper.com is quite well done. There are sections devoted to How it Works, Uses, Blog, Support. They detail set up, give quick tips, such as how to adjust the video, how to get the most from the unit, how to control multiple units. If you tap the 3 horizontal lines along the top right, you will see a variety of uses for family, pets, home and business. The uses are nearly as creative as your imagination. Monitor your pets during the day, see what they do. Talk to them through the units speaker. With the pan and tilt camera and 180 degree camera, you can see nearly an entire room. Know who is home when, know what the temperature is doing with graphs and charts. Are you a private business owner? You can use this to monitor job sites, you can use this to monitor employees when they come and go? Parents can use this as a nanny cam. Before I had my home alarm set up, I always thought that alarm systems were wired. Who has not watched the horror movie where they cut the connection? This system is designed to be used in any domicile, any location, any time. Still not sold? Simply read the “What is an IP Camera & Why do I need one?” on their blog site. Again with the honesty, smart phones are here to stay and are part of our lives. Piper combines the might of the Icontrol network, with your smart phone to truly make your home a smart environment. The best part, you can customize this system to your liking by receiving information via email, text, phone or phone push (my favorite).
The product is shipped in a very unique looking box. The front of the packaging displays the Piper camera very well, allowing the consumer to know what they are getting. The picture on the front is actual size approximately 6.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. The box is angled, which is unique and is an orange/red blend with a silver slip cover. The slip cover details the product and the suggested usage as well: Day/Night HD video, security, Home Automation. The sides are very informative, again very helpful for consumers. The side displays some of the same information as the front, but it also elaborates on this information further. The camera displays panoramic HD video, it is easy-to-use and set up and mobile device friendly. Details of package contents can be found on the side as well: Piper NV, Power supply, 3AA batteries, optional wall mount, quick start guide, instructions for installation of the free app from App Store and Google Play store. The other side is redundant information. The back demonstrates the legend for the product, detailing product specs/components. Further details of the product are laid out on this cover. You can get notifications on your device, watch live and recorded video and remotely control lights/appliances on your mobile devices. The main device is the Z-Wave controller, it has a battery backup and Wi-Fi networking. The camera is listed as HD with night vision capabilities, full 180 degree field of view, pan/tilt/zoom options. It has built in ambient light, temperature and humidity sensors, motion sensor, two way audio with microphone and speaker and finally a siren that registers at 105 dB.
Without even opening the package, this device seems too good to be true. It seems to have everything that my current Vivint (Alarm) Doorbell camera can do, and detects temperature and humidity and has a siren. My level of expectation was incredibly high even before testing the product. Removing the slip cover, the packaging underneath is boring orange. It is eye catching with the angled nature of the top of the box, however. I do dig the trapezoid shape from the side. It is different and it is appealing in its own way (I am a nerd and I like geometry). Sliding the top of this box, you are immediately greeted by the Piper NV camera wrapped in bubble wrap. Lift this up and there is a gray box underneath labeled accessories. Here you will find the power adaptor, a sticker, an instruction manual and batteries/wall mount.
The instructions are really easy to use and are in written and diagram form (another consumer friendly perk of this device). Step 1 remove the stand and install the AA batteries x3. It is not mentioned how to remove the stand, but it pulls straight out. The batteries are designed to provide back-up power in case of an outage. Second, attach the power cable to the back of Piper then reattach the stand. There is a small indentation on the bottom of the Piper that allows for cable management. Step 3, download the app. You can either go to the App Store/Google Play store and type in Piper (Piper Mobile) or go to get piper.com/download using your web browser. I wish that there was a QR code in the manual, or on the side of the package, that would take you to either their website or their location in the store. The usefulness of the manual ends at this point. Flipping the manual over, the instructions are written in French as well. The English is very well written, seemingly by a native speaker.
Plugging the Piper unit into the power outlet greets you with “Piper Ready.” I am a huge nerd and I immediately wanted it to sound like Paul Bettany’s Jarvis. The female voice is nice, however. Activating the app, it will ask you to set up an account or sign in. You will need an email, a phone number and to create a name for the Piper and a password. None of the process was time consuming or difficult. Once in the app, you will be asked to select your home Wi-Fi network, and enter your network password. You will then see a setup screen, and you will receive a text message asking you to keep Piper number for future communication. The device will then go through firmware update, which took about 7 minutes.
The home screen is overwhelming at first. Along the top center you have a house icon, a large red X, an airplane and a suitcase. These activate the modes (more on this below). To the left you have 2 temperatures a slider which has a panic alarm. Caution, this is loud at 105 dB (Table saw loud, Motorcycle loud). Along the top right is a settings option (cogs). There is more about this section below on Settings.
Across the bottom of the screen is a gauge icon which takes you back to the home screen, a house with a heart in it, which monitors the home vitals over the past 48 hours. It will show you the listed temperature out of the home, in the home and a bunch of other metrics. There is a slider tab that allows you to set add or purchase wireless accessories. Shop for z wave sensors through this app. There are numerous offerings for your home through this store.getpiper.com. The final 2 buttons include a beaker icon, where you can set the rules for the different modes, stay, away, vacation and event notify. You can set rules to notify for motion, loud sound and with temperature changes. With these modes you can record video, set for notification of yourself only, your trusted circle and or alert a siren. Set temperatures to alert you to major swings. If the temperatures exceed your set thresholds you can choose self notification and/or to alert your trusted circle.
There is a Piper icon which will take you to the camera display. Honestly, this was the most fun to play with. Touch your smart device screen and you take control of the monitor. The base is fixed and does not swivel, which is a minor nuisance. All someone has to do is bump it or turn it and you are somewhat limited on your angle of view. Placing the camera on my living room mantle, you can see nearly an entire room, which is amazing. Here you can slide the lighting slider and you can activate/deactivate night mode. Touch the little microphone and talk into your device and your voice will be broadcasted into the room. You can touch the window panel and your screen is split into 4 panels. This alone was pretty neat as it reminds me of my own personal security camera display. Do you want amazing? Each of the panels is independently adjustable within the field of view. The single camera may not see all aspects of the room. With the 4 panel mode, you can see all of the corners.
Tapping the 2 cogs, you can personally adjust the details of Piper. You can adjust your personal information and Piper options. For example, you can auto re-arm after an alarm, set pet at home, change your temperature display to Fahrenheit or Celsius, change alarm activation period, turn off siren and receive weather alerts. Just this evening, I received a flood alert for my county. Set a trusted circle of who will receive alerts. You can also add wireless accessories. Select video settings to adjust the quality of the video. Caution though, this may increase data usage or bandwidth on your Wi-Fi. I chose to leave the settings alone as the quality is good at default setting. There are a few other options as well for you to play with.
Aetec Door/Window Sensor:
I do have the Aeotec Piper Door/Window Sensor powered by Icontrol Networks to review as well. This is a really neat peripheral that can go on a door or window to alert to open status. The sensor is powered by #2 AAA batteries. And consisted of a main sensor unit and a magnet. Place these next to each other either at the door junction or window junction. To activate the sensor within the Piper mobile app, you can either access settings (cogs) or touch the slider icon on the main hub. Remove the back of the door/window sensor and touch the little z pave button. Name the device inside of your app. I named the sensor Door 1. Now simply place the sensor and the magnet with heir circles adjacent to each other and ensure that they line up. These can be installed with either the included 3M tape or with included screws. The batteries are supposed to last 1 year. I have had this device for a short time but know that other door/window sensor options can last about a year using button style batteries. This is a very welcomed sensor to pair with the device. Now that the device is paired and installed, you can return to the beaker tab and readjust the modes (home, away, vacation, notify) to push, email, text, call with notification. Again, this is a very welcome addition to an already amazing system. I like that I can set the alarm if the door is open, or have it trip silently and start recording video.
This device has exceeded my expectation in every way. The set up was incredibly easy, the app works very well and overall this is a piece of hardware with outstanding software. I would absolutely love to try out the smart switch, motion detector, smart bulb, the outdoor smart switch and smoke alarm to name a few. With the partnership with IFTTT (free web based service allowing users to create If then then that commands, launching 2016), Nest thermostat and Phillips Hue LEDS will become controllable via Piper. The last bit of good news, you buy this once! There is no monthly fee, there is no monitoring service, there is nothing more that you must buy. Enjoy piece of mind and start living your life, knowing that Piper is on guard.
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