Exploring the Abode Starter Kit: A Comprehensive Review

Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons


  • Beautifully designed web and app dashboard controls
  • Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and Abode RF connectivity
  • Support for more than 200 device integrations
  • Voice control via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant


  • Cheap, relatively flimsy hardware
  • Low-resolution camera with blurry, smeared images
  • Patchy sensor connectivity

This year has seen a rise in the popularity of smart home security systems; August, Nest, Ring, and Samsung SmartThings have all announced new product lines. Naturally, businesses like as Abode are seasoned in the field of smart security, having successfully funded their own Kickstarter campaign and now offering gateways, sensors, remote keyfobs, and motion-sensing cameras.

In light of Abode's recent announcement of a 1080p security camera, door sensors, several third-party device integrations, and Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa compatibility, we felt this was an excellent opportunity to examine the company's $199 Starter Kit (formerly $299). See how it performed in our assessment of the Abode Starter Kit below.

A gateway alarm system, door and window sensors, motion and occupancy detectors, security cameras, power outlets, smoke alarms, temperature sensors, and much more are all included in the extensive Abode hardware portfolio. The purpose of the Abode Starter Kit is to provide you with an affordable, well-designed introduction to the ecosystem in a stylish packaging.

It has the Abode Gateway, a rather small hub that acts as the center of the security system and has a 93-dB siren to frighten away even the most daring invaders. Two door/window contact sensors, a motion camera, and a remote key fob that allows you to arm or disable the system with a single button push are included with the Gateway.

No Humble Abode

The Abode Starter Kit is presented in a stylish box with buff and cyan colors, claiming to be "The Future of Home Security." At first look, it's definitely not a modest abode. Although the hardware is quite well-built, it falls short of having the same high-end feel as Nest or August devices. Opinions will differ on the austere, modernist design of the black-and-white Abode Gateway. Although the gadget looks a lot like a simple, rectangular router from 2011, mercifully without the antennae, we aren't the biggest lovers of how it appears. We were worried about the device's rough corners and skin-scraping edges.The Abode Gateway may feel and look crisp, thanks to its polished acrylic cover that easily collects fingerprints, smudges, and stains, but it also seems a touch cheap.

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The build quality of the remaining hardware in the starter kit varies. While the motion camera and two-tone key fob are more substantial—the latter feeling particularly solid in the hand—the door/window sensors feel similarly flimsy.

A vast network of security systems is connected by many radios, and extra monitoring services are available.

It's possible that the majority of the build expense has been allocated to the engine. The Abode Gateway is equipped with integrated Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and AbodeRF (a unique protocol for long-range connection), which allows it to connect to a wide range of sensors, controllers, and smart power outlets. You can connect up to 155 devices, and because Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are now integrated, you may use your voice to operate some of your gadgets. To arm and disarm the device, you may also activate the Alexa Guard ability.

The fact that there are several possibilities and that the programs are simple to comprehend is positive.

Abode is compatible with a number of third-party gadgets as well, such as IFTTT, Philips Hue, Amazon Echo, Nest Protect, and the Nest Learning Thermostat. The gateway functions well with hardware from Aeon, Enerwave, Fibaro, GE, Kwikset, Leviton, Schlage, and other manufacturers in addition to the company's own products.

In addition to its strong 93dB siren, the Abode Gateway has an optional cellular network connection that costs $10 a month and a 10-hour battery backup that keeps it safe in the event of a power outage.

Since Abode is marketed as a professional security system, it seems logical that the business also provides professional monitoring around-the-clock for $30 per month, which is coupled with cellular service backup. In addition to media storage and a 90-day timetable, the Connect + Secure package offers more storage than the basic starting kit, which only offers three days. Although you can choose if your house needs expert monitoring, it's nice to have a variety of alternatives accessible, and the plans themselves are simple to comprehend and don't have any lock-ins for specific durations.

Installation of the system went well, with one small hitch.

Installing a fairly thorough security system in the house takes time, as you might guess, but Abode is obviously working to make the process as easy as possible. The Gateway uses an extra Ethernet connector to link to your wireless network, and its backup battery can be turned on with a simple button slide on the back of the device.

From there, you can use the iOS and Android devices' free Abode app to setup the Gateway. To proceed with the setup process, you must first register for an Abode account on your desktop computer or mobile device.

Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

To link the beginning kit to your account, the activation code that comes in the box must be used to identify your gateway. Your Abode Gateway is immediately identified and activated on the Internet when it has been entered. It's simple and quick.

Of course, placing the sensors and camera throughout the house will then be enjoyable. Fortunately, the Abode app provides helpful guidance on sensor alignment and positioning as you install the device. The size of the sensors may vary depending on the size of your windows, doors, and frames; although they increase protection, they won't make your home seem much nicer. However, the double-sided sticky strips make installation simple and don't require any equipment.

It's obvious that Abode wants the installation procedure to be as easy as possible.

Less luck was had with the motion camera installation instructions. To activate the batteries, we had to first remove a transparent plastic tab, however we couldn't find the tab on the gadget. At that moment, we realized the batteries were still in the box and not in place. Not too dramatic, but a touch careless in terms of user experience. It took little time to install the batteries, although a screwdriver was needed to remove the camera's back plate.

After it is switched on, you may experiment with different spots for the motion camera, which takes still pictures when its built-in PIR sensor is activated. After seeing the final photos, you're done.

For corner installation, the device's back bracket snaps into position, and adhesive strips adhere to each wall to securely keep the camera in place. For installation on flat walls, you can also use an alternative self-adhesive pad that comes in a package. Although the adhesive pads work well to secure the equipment in place and are undoubtedly convenient, we would want to see wall anchors and screws included as a more durable solution. Watch out, renters! When the pads are taken off, paint will come off the wall. It would also be excellent to have a stand for the camera, which would give you more flexibility in placing and make moving it easier.

Once the hardware is configured, you may give friends and family access to your account using the Abode app. The basic free plan only supports two user accounts; however, this limitation is removed if you subscribe to one of Abode's monthly services. You may get started with the app after giving it a brief look. Setting up Abode should take at least 15 minutes, more for more difficult camera placements. Aside from the misplaced camera battery, however, the installation of the Abode system was rather simple.

Simple and responsive, but low-specification hardware dilutes the experience

We truly enjoyed that you are not limited to using a mobile app to monitor the system while using Abode. You have complete visibility and control over your home security system when you use a desktop browser to log into the Abode website. The solution offers the comfort of desktop monitoring along with the ease of management over mobile apps—a winning combination.

To be more precise, the Android app that came with Abode's initial shipment of its comprehensive security package was, well, a first draft. Since then, Abode has been upgraded to 5.0.4, which is a vast improvement over the prior iteration. You are prompted for a PIN when you initially launch the app.To get around the lock, you may also use the fingerprint reader on your phone.

As soon as you launch the app, the Dashboard provides you with rapid actions, camera views, and information about your system status. Using Quick Actions, you may make shortcuts to frequently performed actions so you don't have to go through menus.

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Important system information is shown across the bottom navigation bar. You may view every event that has happened on the timeline. CUE is an automation capability that we have previously covered in detail. You can quickly access all of your devices by tapping on your list, which displays what you own and their current statuses. Even the overall app settings are now much more structured with an improved UI. The main distinction between this version and the previous one is that the features are now located in logical places. To put it gently, the most recent version of the app fell short of that expectation.

All things considered, this is a significant software upgrade for your smart home security system, and it was much needed. When referenced on mobile devices, the previous app mostly depended on the in-browser experience. The web interface is still available, but it is used far less frequently these days. With this software, you have a lot more control over your phone—the gadget that most of us use the most. The app and the business as a whole have undergone a significant makeover.

When you use a desktop browser to access Abode, you can take advantage of a wider range of functions that are elegantly displayed in a cutting-edge dashboard that is hosted online. Once again, you can see a tidy chronology of events and alerts, keep an eye on and adjust the state and settings of your devices, make rapid actions (see these as multi-device macros), set up automated home and away perimeters to arm or disarm the system based on the position of your smartphone, and much more.

The Gateway alarm sounded intensely loud and was set off quickly through the camera.

The corporation will make several attempts to get you to purchase more gear or sign up for one of its premium service plans, which is a drawback. Abode's attempt to establish a company is understandable, but those pushes have to stop if the proposals are rejected at the outset rather than keeping coming up. All things considered, Abode offers a robust selection of administration and monitoring tools that are aesthetically pleasing and incredibly quick on desktop and mobile interfaces.

The actual hardware of the Starter Kit is a little less elegant. The motion camera's images have a relatively low resolution (320 x 240 by default, with a maximum of 640 x 480), which results in hazy, fuzzy images that are good for detecting presence but not so good for identification. The camera uses its built-in flash to take pictures in low light because it does not enable night vision. A dark room may be rather well illuminated by the flash, despite the slightly yellow photos. The main problem is with the poor quality, though, so you should definitely think about upgrading to Abode's recently released $149 1080p indoor camera, which has built-in night vision, triggered recording, and live streaming video.

The window/door sensors were also a touch finicky, in our opinion. The system was quite good in identifying when a door or window was opened, but it was far less successful in identifying when the same door or window was closed. When we attempted to arm the system, Abode kept notifying us that the door was open, which caused complaints. We were disappointed that detection only functioned in one direction; perhaps, with more time to adjust the sensor positions, we might enhance detection in both ways.

The Gateway alarm, which was unbearably loud and set off by the camera or door window/sensor, did not cause any complaints from us. We quickly received a notice on our phone when the alarm was set off, along with easy ways to contact the authorities or turn off the alarm. Upon disabling the alarm, the system acted promptly, causing the noise to stop within a few seconds.

Overall, we found Abode to be responsive and simple to use, but as with any multi-device system, your experience will be influenced to some extent by the smart home sensors and other gear you decide to connect. As a result, although the Abode Starter Kit helps you get started with the essentials, you'll soon find yourself wanting to upgrade.

Combine Alexa with more smart home appliances to create ideal alliances.

It goes without saying that integrating a multitude of third-party devices is necessary to introduce a smart home system in the modern day. With Google (via Nest) and Amazon entering the smart home security market, companies like Abode must provide comprehensive, in-depth, and high-quality integration. At first look, Abode seems to be off to a quick start.

Using an Amazon Echo or other Alexa-enabled device, you may monitor and manage the system with Abode's Alexa skill. If security is a concern, you should know that some orders, such disarming the system or turning off the alarm, need confirmation with a vocal PIN number. The skill supports a wide range of commands, including those that operate linked locks, outlets, garage doors, and configurable rapid actions, in addition to standard functions like the Gateway alarm.

The integration of Alexa proved to be effective. It's significantly quicker to vocally trigger (or disengage) a panic alarm in the event of an incursion than it is to fumble for your phone. It just takes a few seconds to arm the system with voice commands, and Abode was incredibly responsive all along.

We connected a Nest Learning Thermostat, and we were happy to discover that not only could Abode's Away status be synchronized with the thermostat's, but that manual temperature management could also be accessed through the Abode mobile app and PC dashboard. Nor is this a hastily assembled solution. Clear consideration has gone into designing a straightforward, user-friendly interface on both dashboards that seamlessly connects Abode's general design with the device being operated.

Abode has a solid and adaptable framework at its core, therefore it is not to be disregarded.

Strong and adaptable, Abode has created a platform that may easily function as many smart homes' control panel.

Although the Abode Starter Kit isn't flawless, it does provide a cost-effective and easy way to get started with the company's smart home platform. It's not surprising that the Gateway hardware and sensors are a little rough around the edges (sometimes literally), given its Kickstarter beginnings. However, we hope Abode's next generation of devices will have a more upscale feel, better specs, and more dependability. The Starter Kit's camera and sensors don't do the Abode ecosystem justice, and although the Gateway functions flawlessly, it won't be the most elegant or well-made item in your house.

However, if you look past these entry-level gadgets, you'll notice that Abode's foundational platform has seen a substantial investment. The Abode online dashboard and app are elegantly crafted and superbly designed, offering straightforward, user-friendly management without resorting to needless glitz. We tried third-party connections, and they were simple to set up and functioned well, showcasing Abode's potential as a full-featured smart home entertainment, lighting, heating, and security system.

Abode will undoubtedly need to improve its hardware in order to maintain its early momentum, as large businesses currently control the majority of the smart home industry. However, Abode shouldn't be disregarded because it is built around a solid and adaptable base.

Details about warranties

There is a one-year limited warranty covering material and workmanship faults on the Abode Starter Kit.

Our Opinion

The Abode Starter Kit presents a cost-effective overview of the company's smart home platform; nevertheless, the quality and specs of the included Gateway, Camera, and Sensors are subpar. Nonetheless, Abode's software platform is easy to use, straightforward, and compatible with a wide range of smart home gadgets. Although Abode isn't the best provider of smart home platforms on our list, it's definitely one to keep an eye on.

Exists a superior substitute?

Consider waiting for the more expensive and high-end $499 Nest Secure system or the less expensive $199 Ring Alarm system before making a smart home security purchase.

For what duration will it last??

After four years, Abode is still doing a fantastic job of improving and expanding their platform. It will take time to see if the modest startup can compete with the likes of Nest, Amazon, and other internet giants, as its installations are in the thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands. There will probably be victims in the revival of smart home security. Therefore, choosing a smaller supplier carries some risk because they may be purchased or fail in the competition for the best smart home. However, as of right now, we're not aware of any particular problems that would indicate Abode won't exist in the medium run.

Should you buy it?

Abode wouldn't be our first pick because so many businesses have announced smart home security solutions this year. The Starter Kit hardware is distinctly Kickstarter-class, despite the platform's attractive appearance. Prior to making a move, make sure to investigate more established rivals such as Nest, Amazon, and Netgear.

Updated July 13, 2020: The new app experience has been noted.

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