Ever Since Comcast launched the Xfinity Home Security Service in 2010, it’s been hounded by conflicting reports. It was designed to offer not just all the regular features of home security such as a police and fire alarm along with 24X7 professional monitoring, but also a live stream that can be viewed remotely and the system can function as a smart home controller. But it wasn’t universally seen as that. Over time it has won brickbats and bouquets; those who like it, love it. Those who don’t, hate it.
Confused? This article clarifies it for you.
Image source: corporate.comcast.com
Xfinity Has Its Advantages
- Security + Home Automation is a win/win: This may not have been intuitive, but now that Xfinity came out with this, it makes so much more sense. When your sensors and your devices talk to one another, it makes life simpler for you. You can simply set the system up such that it arms the alarms, lowers the thermostat and the cameras start up as soon as you leave the home.
- Consolidated bill for internet, tv and security: Okay, who doesn’t love convenience? And when Comcast is your provider for all three services, and can send you a consolidated bill for them, what’s not to love? Very simply, it makes for one less thing to keep track of.
- Option of adding extra sensors: Apart from the reasonable number of sensors and cameras that the Xfinity comes with, you can also add more as per your needs.
- You can use another ISP: If you’ve got a great plan with your existing ISP, or aren’t too convinced about Comcast’s connectivity in your neighbourhood, you can always use the Xfinity with another ISP. By making the system network-agnostic, they’ve made it much more attractive to a lot of people.
- Continuous video recording: For additional fee, Xfinity gives you the option of continuous video recording, with 10 days of storage for the video. For a price tag of $9.99, that may be something you want to look into only if you really need it.
Functions as a home automation controller: Xfinity has tie-ups with some of the most popular brands for home automation to integrate them into the system, including Nest Thermostats, the August Lock and Phillips Hue. You don’t pay anything extra to add these into your app.
Watch Cnet’s review of the Xfinity Home Security System
But The Xfinity Has Its Disadvantages Too
- Security flaw: One would expect the Xfinity Home Security System, with all it’s additional features, to do it’s main job right. Right? Wrong. Turns out Xfinity uses the ZigBee protocol, which aims at convenience and low power consumption for transmitting data to communicate with sensors and devices. One peculiarity of this protocol is that when it doesn’t get a signal from a sensor, instead of raising an alarm, it’ll simply assume the sensors are working and in the previous position, giving both occupants and the monitoring service a false sense of security. So all a marauder needs is a simple radio jamming device, and he has access. What’s worse, is that once the jamming ceases, the sensor takes anything from a few minutes to a few hours to reboot and get back online, and it does so without reporting any irregularities or failures.
- Takes upto 6 hours to install: In an era of plug-and-play devices and 5-minute installations, the amount of time this system takes for its initial setup is alarming. And it’s not exactly for the layman; it’ll take a bit of skill and know-how. For prosumers who are fairly well informed and comfortable with the technology involved, this isn’t such a daunting task. But it’s not something you want to undertake lightly.
- Internet-dependent: It requires a high speed internet connection to function, which makes it vulnerable during an internet outage. That is ironic, considering Comcast is famous for downtime in certain areas. It does, however automatically switch to battery power during a power outage and it’ll potter along halfheartedly on a 3G wireless internet.
- Data Caps: Further, the cameras consume a fair amount of bandwidth to transmit data, and it all adds towards your data consumption. If you’re on a limited data plan or a low bandwidth, you probably should factor in the cost of upgrading your internet plan when you’re considering the Xfinity. You need to be at least tech-savvy enough to figure out how much data it’s consuming and what services consume more of it, in case you want to shave down your costs.
- Closed Ecosystem: While it does have tie-ups with a few of the most popular brands of home automation devices, it’s keeping the sensors and monitoring devices to itself. So you can’t integrate, say, a Nest Cam that you might already have bought, or some of those nifty SmartThings sensors.
Image source: corporate.comcast.com
So Who Is It Right For?
It’s great for the enthusiasts who are willing to invest in the time and effort required for initial setup, who aren’t primarily depending on it for home security, eg if one lives in a gated community / apartment building where the entryway is monitored. In this case, it’ll add an extra layer of security, while functioning as a home automation hub.
If you’re looking for only a home security system, you’ll find more secure ones like the Frontpoint. If you’re looking for smart device controllers, a smart speaker like the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo is great. The Nest Thermostat also senses if you’re home or away, triggering a programmable series of adjustments to your smart devices. However, if you want a home automation controller which also helps make your home more secure, in addition to other security systems, the Xfinity Home Security System may just be right for you.
Image source: techhive.com
With a price tag of $25/month on a 2-year contract, the price plants it firmly in the value segment. This includes 24/7 security and professional monitoring, and there is no extra charge for adding smart devices that can be controlled through it. This package includes a touchscreen controller, a wireless keypad, 3 sensors that can be used on doors or windows and a motion sensor. These devices may not be adequate for your needs, so you might need to add a few sensors and cameras. If the task of setting up the system is daunting, the Xfinity Home Secure can be installed by a professional technician for $50 onwards, which includes a demonstration on how to get the most out of your Xfinity Home Secure. This system may have its drawbacks, some of which are downright alarming, but it’s undeniable advantages and convenience make it well suited for this niche.