Smartphone Security Systems

Smartphone Controlled Security Systems: Home Security in the Palm of Your Hand

[A Guest Post by Jay Harris – Home Depot]

Our homes are everything, aren’t they? Aside from the money, time and energy we invest in them, they’re where our children lay their heads at night. There are few things in this world that are more important.

When we leave our homes, we give up our control over protecting it and making it safe. Until recently, even the best security systems placed the care of your home in a faceless monitoring system that would contact you and the authorities if there was a break-in. Such monitoring systems are wonderful for the peace of mind they provide when you’re away, but have you ever wanted just a bit more?

Break-ins aren’t the only worry we have when we’re away. We’d also like to be able to keep an eye on the new babysitter or see which neighborhood kids snuck into the pool. We’d like to be able to turn off lights we forgot, or turn down the thermostat to save money.

We’d like to be in two places at once which is, of course, impossible. Still, you may be amazed at how close we can come.

You’ve heard of smartphones but how about smart homes? Add the term to your lexicon, because the line between security systems and home automation (controlling multiple home elements from one remote or smartphone) is blurring.

If Security is the Main Focus consider Defender Surveillance Systems. As the name implies, the folks at Defender are bullish about home security, offering excellent product that is also easy to use and understand, and relatively inexpensive, especially compared to higher end systems.

Available at your local hardware store, systems like the Defender 8 Ch. 500GB HDD Surveillance System offer DVD quality surveillance, even at night. Recording is set to your preference (such as constant or motion activated), and you receive alerts when a camera is activated or a video feed is lost. You can also view footage from the cameras anywhere in the world on your smartphone. Defender offers lifetime customer support, and best of all, their cheapest system is only a couple hundred dollars.

Another great option is found in Lorex surveillance systems. What’s handy with Lorex is how many options there are for expanding your equipment. If you need more coverage, you can buy extra cameras. If you need to upgrade altogether, there are many hard drive options with up to a terabyte of storage so you never have to worry about running out of recording room.

The quality of the equipment is also exciting. Many Lorex cameras have wash-out prevention features for making sure that any facial images captured by the camera are clean and thus identifiable. Lorex also makes cameras that work equally well indoors and out, even in extreme temperatures.

While not all Lorex systems can be smartphone controlled, many of them are. Just make sure to look for this information in the product’s description.

Alternatively, you may not be ready to fly solo just yet. Fortunately, you don’t have to: there are blended options which combine the flexibility and control of your own smartphone security system with the added support of an external monitoring company.

Home surveillance companies like Lifeshield offer unparalleled monitoring and customer support, as well as the widest range of services. Like the options listed above, you can view live feeds, record video and take snapshots from installed cameras, allowing you to check on the kids after school and even look in on pets while on vacation. There are also ample motion and contact sensors.

However, where remote security companies like Lifeshield set themselves apart – in performance and price – is monitoring. Your home is monitored for intrusion of course, but you also have options for fire, carbon monoxide, life safety and environmental (flood, freezing, etc.) protection.

For those with young children, or for the elderly, you may opt for medical monitoring. In case of accidents like slips and falls, Lifeshield’s medical monitoring kit gives users access to a “panic” button via a remote, key fob, or smartphone app.

The largest downside to systems like those on this tier is that you’re potentially overwhelmed with options. There are different packages that all come with different prices and contracts and these can be pretty confusing. However, in terms of scope, options like Lifeshield are worth a look, but just make sure to do your research so that you know exactly what you’re signing up for.

Smart Security

The security of your home is paramount to the safety of your family and your peace of mind. Luckily, there are home monitoring solutions that literally fit in the palm of your hand which that allow you to keep an eye on your house.

Just don’t forget that these systems can do a lot more than keep your home secure. They can also make your life easier and more efficient, and it’s really not that much more expensive.

Jay Harris is a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs and is a contributor to Home Depot’s blog. Jay’s interests in the home improvement arena include home security systems and home automation.

HTC Evo 4G Announced by Sprint, Available June 4th

In a move Sprint hopes is not too late to the game, they’ve announced their latest and greatest addition to the Sprint line, the HTC Evo 4G.    We’ve seen how powerfully the Apple  iPhone has managed to maintain it’s solid position as the Smartphone of choice, so it will be a surprise to many if the Sprint HTC Evo makes more than a minor dent in the iPhone market.    However, the capabilities are impressive:

From Sprint:

HTC EVO™ Fact Sheet

The ultimate multimedia experience at Sprint 3G and 4G speeds

The world’s first 3G/4G Android handset, exclusively from Sprint, HTC EVO™ 4G, offers a rich mobile Internet experience with a fully integrated suite of services built on the AndroidTM 2.1 platform. HTC EVO 4G includes a blazing-fast 1GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor, the award-winning HTC SenseTM user experience, an 8.0 megapixel auto-focus camera with HD-capable video camcorder and a forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera. HTC EVO supports industry leading features including Simultaneous Voice and Data while in 4G coverage and new Mobile Video Chat, the two-way voice and video service from Qik. The large vibrant 4.3 inch display, built-in kickstand, 3.5 mm headset jack and HDMI output make HTC EVO 4G an unparalleled platform for wireless entertainment. Download music, pictures, files, or videos in seconds – not minutes – and watch streaming video on the go on a network with download speeds that are up to 10 times faster than 3G speeds.1 With built-in mobile hotspot functionality, HTC EVO 4G also allows up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including laptop, camera, music player, video player and any other Wi-Fi-enabled device, to enjoy the benefits of 3G/4G speeds on the go.

PRODUCTIVITY

  • 3G/4G capability
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ QSD8650 (1GHz) processor
  • 4.3” capacitive display with pinch-to-zoom and tactile feedback
  • World-class HTML browser – bandwidth and quality that rival that of netbooks
  • Android 2.1, with access to more than 35,000 apps on Android Market
  • Simultaneous voice and data capability in 4G and Wi-Fi coverage areas, enabling Web surfing and more while talking
  • GoogleTM mobile services including Google SearchTM, Google MapsTM, Google TalkTM, GmailTM, YouTubeTM , and syncs with Google CalendarTM
  • Access to Google Goggles™ to search with pictures instead of words
  • Sprint Navigation, with turn-by-turn driving directions and 3D maps
  • Updated HTC Sense, award-winning user experience, which includes Friend Stream to integrate Facebook, Twitter and more into a single flow of updates
  • Visual voicemail
  • Messaging – personal and business email, IM and text messaging
  • 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability – connects up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices
  • 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps.
  • 3G data speeds (EVDO Rev A.) – peak download speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1.8 Mbps; average download speeds of 600 kbps-1.4 Mbps.


ENTERTAINMENT

  • Video chat service available as an upgrade to the pre-loaded Qik app to enable conversational, interactive, real-time sharing between mobile devices or from mobile-to-desktop
  • 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • High-quality video streaming and downloads at 3G and 4G data speeds
  • Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone
  • Output pictures, slides and videos in HD quality (720p) via HDMI cable (sold separately)
  • Live video sharing with Qik
  • Built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing
  • Media player with 3.5mm stereo headset jack
  • FM radio and Amazon MP3 store
  • Sprint applications including Sprint TV® and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile(SM)
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
  • Built-in WiFi®: 802.11 b/g
  • Digital compass, G-Sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, GPS
  • Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports up to 32GB

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Dimensions: 4.8″ x 2.6″ x .5″ (LxWxT) 
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Main display: 4.3” WVGA (800×480) 65K colors
  • Battery life: 6 hours of talk time. Time may vary depending on 3G/4G coverage and usage.
  • Standard removable 1500mAh Lithium (Li-on) battery
  • Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM

1 “Up to 10x faster” based on download speed comparison of 3G’s 600 kbps vs. 4G’s 6 Mbps. Industry published 3G avg. speeds (600 kbps-1.7 Mbps); 4G avg. speeds (3-6 Mbps). Actual speeds may vary. Sprint 4G is currently available in 32 markets and counting, and on select devices. See www.sprint.com/4G for details. Not all services available on 4G and coverage may default to 3G/separate network where 4G unavailable.Note: Device features, specifications, services and applications are subject to change.

Newer and better Palm smartphone to debut Thursday at CES

Since the Treo’s early days as the smartphone of choice for many, Palm has painfully been lagging others – especially the iPhone – in terms of mobile innovations.   However CrunchGear is reporting from a “trusted source” that Palm will launch a new device on Thursday, powered by an operating system called “Nova”, that may prove one of the sensational new products to be launched at CES.

The new Palm is reported to have a large touchscreen and a slide-down keyboard.  Lack of a physical keyboard is arguably the Achilles heel of the Apple iPhone where small screens have plagued all Palm devices to date so if this has both it could be a strong competitor in this very rapidly evolving field of smartphones and powerful mobile devices.

As a Treo user I’ve been anxious to make the jump to a new phone for some time and it’ll be nice to have a chance to try out some of best new phones for 2009 at CES this coming week.     Hopefully Palm’s new phone will at least match the high standards of other devices coming on the market soon.