Product: SimpliSafe Security System
Rating: Strong Recommend*
For apartment dwellers, home security usually means a couple of strong deadbolt locks, perhaps a mean German Sherpard and renter's insurance. Alarm systems are typically designed and marketed for home owners, requiring a hefty investment and permanent installation. So when we discovered SimpliSafe, a home security system specifically designed for apartment renters such as ourselves, we immediately contacted them for a test unit…
The SimpliSafe system is particularly designed for urban apartment dwellers, both with budget in mind and also in regards to ease of removing the system when it's time to move. Unboxing the system, we were impressed how easy and clearly the directions made for setup; this is a system anyone could setup for themselves or for their relatives in under 30 minutes without double checking the instructions, making it ideal for someone who wants any additional layer of security with very little hassle. The basic system comes with two battery powererd wireless door/window sensors, a motion sensor, entry key pad, a panic button, a key remote fob and a Base Station. They also throw in a couple of decals to scare meek intruders, with everything clearly labeled and packaged.
All sensor units come prepared with removable adhesive backs (the 3M variety that adheres well, but removes easily). We set up our two entry sensors at the front and back doors of our small apartment, while placing the motion sensor at the corner of living room (we later moved it just above the entry stairway downstairs). The keypad was placed right inside the front door for easy access for entry and departure. The Base Station sits at our desk, warning us of entry or motion in Home Mode, and is also capable of creating a 85 decibel siren and/or wirelessly connecting to an Emergency Dispatch center if you choose to subscribe to an extra $14.99 Emergency Dispatch service (24 hours/365 days per year response like other home security services, but does not require a long term contract). The Simplisafe uses the ReFLEX wireless network, the same Narrowband PCS network used by hospitals and emergency services, and we like there's no need to run any additional wires or telephone lines, just a power cord to the base unit. The Base Unit also warns if any of the sensors need their batteries replaced with a blue light indicator and offers voice prompts and door chimes (all can be disabled using provided software for your computer; settings are then saved and transferred onto the USB keychain and installed at the top of the base unit's hidden USB connection).
What we also noticed about the SimpliSafe system is how easily we adapted to using it in daily operation. When you leave, just press "Away" on your key fob as you depart. A beeping notifies you the alarm has been activated; upon return you're given 30 seconds to enter your custom code to turn off the alarm or just press "Off" on your key fob (our only complaint with our experience using SimpliSafe was the keychain design (the keychain we received doubles as a USB drive and the cap falls off a little to easy while in pockets). When we're at home, we set it to "Home" mode, which activates all the entry sensors, keeping guard of our front and back doors. And of course, if someone tries to get into your home while the alarm is activated, the alarm screams bloody murder and offers the optional Emergency Dispatch noted above. If you've got a car alarm and can use that, using the SimpliSafe system will come as naturally and easily.
If you're a pet owner like ourselves, don't fret: the SimpliSafe system has been designed to ignore pets under 50lbs (we guess if a little child was your would-be robber, this may be an issue, but then it may just be time to move). The motion sensor detects motion within 30ft. and we tested it a few times and it worked just as advertised. In the process of writing this review we realized/remembered we installed the Panic Button nearby our bed, so it would probably be good idea to install it somewhere you're likely to remember the location for those urgent emergencies.
The system is available in two packaged setups: the $249.99 SimpliSafe 1500 Apartment Security System is designed for 1-2 bedrooms, up to 1,500 square feet, while the $299.99 SimpliSafe 2500 Home Security System with 2 motion sensors, 4 entry senses and 2 remote keychains can secure up to 2,500 square feet. Without the need for any installation fees and the option to us the system without any additional monthly fees or long term contracts, both systems are attractive options to add an extra layer of security at a reasonable cost for renters and owners alike. We're sold on the ease of use and we're certainly sad to have to peel off the sensors and keypad and send our review unit back, as we quite liked knowing SimpliSafe had our backs in this last month.