Do not expect a lot of heavy-duty tech with this kit, but it was easy to setup and the system was responsive.
The exact origin of the phrase “A man’s home is his castle, “et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium” is unknown. However, we can date the concept back to at least a 17th-century common law written by Sir Edward Cocke 1628 (The Institutes of the Laws of England). Some sources even take this back further to 6th century Roman Laws, the Pandects. The idea was that nobody should enter into a dwelling without consent and was the basis for privacy laws. Furthermore, Pitt the Elder wrote in 1763 “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.” The concept was never meant to allow us to do whatever we wanted inside of our homes, despite what many people may believe. Illegal remains illegal, no matter where the infraction occurred. Instead, we should be safe and private inside of our own homes and should be allowed to defend that right. Despite concepts/laws like these, people still break and enter, steal, trespass and harass. Some of us may choose to protect our homes with monitored alarm companies such as Vivint, but this may be too costly for others. Luckily, there are stand-alone monitors like that from SkyLink.
No Terminators were harmed in the making of this review. When I first examined the attractive 5 3/8 inches wide by 5 3/8 inches long by 4 15/16 inches thick SkyLinkNet Home Automation Kit, I could not separate the name from the fictitious Skynet, from The Terminator movies. Knowing the power of advertising, I suspect that the company used name recognition as an added benefit to their packaging. The top panel of the cube-like packaging showed a series of nine blue icons with white images within them surrounded by a central hub. A hand holding a smartphone on your left provided a sense of power and system control. Using buzzwords like Home Automation, Alarm System, Video Monitoring and Home control, my brain navigated back to the movie tie-in. I enjoyed the packaging and felt that the company did a great job with the artwork. The white cover panel served as a clean backdrop for the components of the SK-200 Alarm System Starter Kit. Along the bottom, you will find helpful pictures of the internet hub, a smartphone (not included), security keychain remote, motion sensor, window and door sensors and iOS App Store and Google Play Store icons. When you rotate the package ninety degrees clockwise, you will see a dual colored blue panel. The lighter blue top displayed the accessories/model numbers, while the darker blue bottom provided a QR link, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube icons. The opposite side face proved to be very busy, listing twelve icons with English and Spanish descriptions. You can arm/disarm the system with phone or 300 foot range remote, receive push notifications, there is no monthly fees/contract, enjoy easy installation, add up to 100 sensors, backup batteries in case of power outage, event log, add up to ten cameras for video monitoring and enjoy life/recorded footage, add outdoor solar siren for additional security, be connected during power failure by external telephone dialer and lastly all sensors/main unit are operated by AA/AAA batteries for convenience and low cost. The back panel served as an advertisement for additional automation products from Skylink (security keypad, water leak sensor, garage door sensor, phone-dialer, indoor wireless camera, indoor pan and tilt camera, outdoor wireless camera, outdoor solar siren, and home control receivers. The bottom panel provided useful links to customer service 1 (800) 304-1187, hours of operation (9-5 EST) and email links email@example.com.
When I lifted the top flap away from the box, I was surprised to find instructions printed on the same bluish coloration as that utilized on the sides. Step 1 recommended that you navigate to the iOS App Store or Google Play store to download and launch the free SkylinkNET App. Step two requested that you create and activate your account, step three recommended that you initialize your Hub, step four had you add your sensors and step five recommended that you sit back and enjoy the device. The artwork was very straightforward, and this section did not suffer from too much text. Beneath the inner flaps, you will find a red-hexagonal SkyLink sticker that was designed to resemble a stop sign and an English and Spanish quick guide. Within the main box, you will find four smaller boxes. The first of the white boxes measured 4 3/4 inches tall by 5 1/8 inches wide by 1 3/8 inches thick and was labeled with “internet hub.” The 4 1/8 inches square by 1 1/4 inches thick hub had a single ethernet input port and power port on the back and buttons 1-4 and a lock button on the top. The second box measured 3 3/4 inches wide by 2 5/8 inches tall by 2 3/8 inches thick and was labeled with “Motion Sensor 2X Window/Door Sensor and Keychain remote.” Inside, I found the magnetic strips/sensor and keychain. Each of the strips measured 2 1/4 inches tall by 1/2 inches wide by 7/16 inches thick, and the sensor device measured 2 5/8 inches long by 7/8 inches wide by 3/4 inches thick. The motion sensor measured 2 3/8 inches long by 2 inches tall by 7/8 inches thick and the keychain measured 2 3/8 inches tall by 1 1/4 inches wide by 1/2 inches thick. The four-button keychain came with a pre-installed battery. The device had buttons for lock, unlock, home and alarm. The third box measured 3 3/4 inches wide by 2 5/8 inches tall by 2 3/8 inches thick and was labeled with “Mounting Accessories.” Inside of the box, the company provided 3M tape strips and drywall anchors/screws for each of the sensors. Lastly, the fourth box measured 5 1/8 inches wide by 3 3/4 inches tall by 2 3/8 inches thick and was labeled with “Power Adaptor and Ethernet Cable.” Inside of the box, I found a 39 1/2 inches long ethernet cable and a 73 1/2 inches long AC adaptor.
The instruction manual opened up into a 16-panel setup guide, starting with the package contents as listed above. I loved the step-by-step diagram based installation instructions. To start, insert 4AAA batteries into the internet hub and then plug the internet hub into your router using the included ethernet and power cables. Insert a single AAA battery into both of the window/door sensors and a single AA battery into the motion sensor, before hanging them on the wall. Also, I would recommend against hanging them until you get to the setup wizard. In total, you will need 6 AAA and a single AA battery for this Sky Link kit. Step four of the manual instructed me to navigate to the iOS App Store and to download the Skylinknet App. There were a variety of options on the App Store, but we were supposed to download the 2.4* App that looks like a house with S-Net on the front of it. Before I buy tech, I read numerous reviews. Similarly, I read the reviews for Apps before I download them. Of the 20 reviews, fourteen had a single star. The reviews talked of connection issues, the need to regularly reset your router, the need to delete/reload the app, easily defeated security, irregular app updates, single user arm/disarm, false alarms, randomly going offline, and crashes. Some of the reviews date back to two years ago and have not been updated, suggesting an older model or that the device issues/app issues may not have been adequately addressed. Regardless, I decided to proceed with the device. With the App downloaded, it asked for permission to send push notifications, which I allowed. I then had to create an account, by tapping the grey “Create Account” button along the bottom. They provided a very long legalese agreement paragraph with warranty information, indemnification information, and stating that it is your fault if anything happens. To continue to test the device, I chose to “Agree.” To complete the process, you will need to enter your name, email, and password. The name will need to be at least four characters and the password at least eight characters. There did not appear to be any character requirements for the password other than the eight characters. An email was sent to me about five minutes later and required for me to tap the activation link, which completed the setup.
Once the app is fully ready, you will need to set up the Hub. This process was quite easy and followed step six of the instruction manual. Tap the “Set up hub” button, “initialize a new Hub,” and then simply plug in the Hub into the router. Enter the name of the Hub that was located on the bottom of the device, then input a password. The next steps directly followed the instruction manual. Within system settings, “Setup Wizard,” “Add Device,” “Sensor” or “Security Remotes,” and then follow the instructions on the phone screen. Once this step was complete for each of the door sensors and the motion alarm, I continued through the instruction manual. I set up the Hub Keypad Password, an eight key combination to deactivate the alarm and then perused the app. Along the bottom of the SkyLink app, there was a house icon that took me to the main hub. The three circles took me to the setup section, where I could change system settings, alarm settings and I could evaluate the event log. The third icon, a house with a lock inside of it, took me to another screen. From this screen, I was able to arm home/away and slide to panic. Within the System settings, you could add a brief “If… then..” statement or you could link to the online iFTTT and add commands such as arm/disarm the alarm, ask Google Home or Alexa to Arm Home or Away, to call # when the alarm goes off, set timers for alarm on/off and if you have other devices turn on/off lights, etc. I did not get into the iFTTT much with this review.
Using the device over the past week, I found that it was pretty sensitive. I liked that the devices alerted my phone whenever they were activated or deactivated and that the sensors were sensitive. There were some basic iFTTT commands that added a little flare, but this kit cannot do the things a monitored system is capable of. I have tested security cameras such as the Piper, a few POE options, and my friends have tested the Arlo 2, Ooma, and Blink. This kit was very basic, yet easy to setup and the app was very intuitive. For around $120 this kit provided two door/window sensors, a motion sensor, the HUB, a reasonable length Ethernet cable, a generously long AC power cable and mounting gear. This kit may be perfect for a dorm or an apartment where sound aversion will alert others to a problem. Perhaps you are a parent and want to monitor a certain cabinet or room. You can use the sensors to monitor child movement throughout your home and to alert you to the presence/absence of movement. The wide-angle view of the motion detector allowed for an approximately 180-degree field of view. I read some reviews that pets set these off, but I do not have a pet at present to test it. I can state that my three-year-old daughter easily set off the motion detector. The panic alarm on the keychain may work perfectly for a dorm situation. You can activate the alarm from your keychain by holding the button for 5 seconds. I loved the panic slider on the app, as this nearly eliminated the chance of an accidental set-off. The home screen icons changed in real-time and showed the status of each of the sensors.
My tests were completed on two floors of my home, with the hub on the main floor, plugged into my Linksys Velop router. I placed one door sensor on my bedroom door and another on my daughter’s door upstairs. I placed the motion detector at the base of the stairs that led upstairs. The sensor was strong enough to detect me lying on the floor about 20 feet away, at about a 120-degree angle from the sensor. It was rather funny typing this review while my phone repeatedly alerted me to motion detected. You can add a variety of devices from SkyLink’s website, such as garage door openers, indoor/outdoor motion detectors, water leak sensors, more window/door sensors, automatic door openers, and some home automation options. The base kit is rather basic, but it likely would work for many people. Without monthly subscriptions, without over-tech, over-app, complicated setup/utility, this kit may be ideal for someone that simply wants to monitor their surroundings. Many reviews of this device suggest that the tech looks old fashioned and I would have to agree. For example, the telephone dialer reminds me of tech from the 1980’s/1990’s. If you are looking for ultra modern, feature-rich, flashy, integrated tech, this system may not be for you. Integration of iFTTT, Alexa and Google Home controls is a large step, but many people want Apple HomeKit or other third party integration. For the DIY fan, for someone in a dorm, apartment, pool house, Wifi enabled barn/outbuilding this kit may work perfectly for you. I believe that Skylink may be a huge contender for home automation/alarm awards in the near future. Although the kit feels dated, their system works well.