Product Type: Smarthome | Manufacturer: Somfy| Price: From £229.00 (camera) | Where to buy: Somfy | [et_social_share]
The Somfy One is a strong smarthome system which is better value than its predecessor, however the application still leaves a lot to be desired.
You may remember when we reviewed the MyFox smarthome security system back in the print edition of What Mobile. It was a good product that was simply too expensive and difficult to set up up. The company has now been bought by French smarthome firm Somfy, who has a solid track record with connected home products. The Somfy One is the first release since their acquisition of MyFox and aims to build on the shortcomings of its predecessor.
Initial impressions are great, with attractive packaging and a solid product. The camera is built from plastic but has a decent weight. Coming in a circular shape, it wouldn’t look out of place on a mantle or shelf. The black finish helps to make the product rather discrete, which is quite handy if you want to stow it away in a corner somewhere. A privacy shutter can be activated to cover the camera sensor, which should be a reassurance to conspiracy theorists out there. It’s worth noting that the Somfy also records audio, so the shutter won’t protect you from everything. That said, when the shutter is activated, audio recording also stops.
Setup for the Somfy One is very straightforward, with only a very thorough tutorial offering plenty of steps. Follow the pictures carefully and there’s little chance you’ll make a mistake, so long as your WIFI connection isn’t temperamental like ours. Setting up the camera took a few attempts as we couldn’t get the QR code to show up on the phone screen, which is held in front of the Somfy camera and used to synchronize the two devices. Once the Somfy One camera scans the QR code, wireless passwords and necessary information are exchanged between smartphone and device. The quality of the feed from the Somfy is 1080p/30FPS, which is more than adequate for home and indoor office surveillance. It has a pretty wide field of view that was able to see most of our office from the corner, though recording at night leaves a little to be desired.
Perhaps one of the biggest draws with the Somfy is the fact that the company offers a completely free service with no subscription fees. While you won’t get many advanced features, it will constantly record 10 second clips of any motion it sees, while also providing SMS and email alerts with a timestamp. Move up to the silver plan and you’ll get continuous recording for up to 24 hours at a cost of £3.99 per month. This is all backed up to the cloud, where you can download up to 10 minutes of footage onto the device to keep. It’s a well thought upgrade system which gives basic users what they need to have a secure monitoring solution in their house, while also giving more advanced users the chance to step up without spending a considerable fortune.
Included in the Somfy One system is a number of accessories which can be added to the camera for additional functionality. Many of these may seem quite familiar as they are essentially the same products carried across from their MyFox days. Of the numerous units available, we had the chance to try a Keyfob and IntelliTAG unit. These two products work in tandem to monitor who is coming into the office and when, plus additional alerts for unknown people entering the office. Both were incredibly easy to setup, with clear instructions. The Fob carries the same controls which you’ll find in the main application, giving you a quick way to disarm the system when you enter the building without pulling out a smartphone. It also alerts the system when you enter the building and can even be assigned to individual users. If you want to manage who enters the building and when, this is a very cool feature. The IntelliTAG on the other hand is placed on doors, windows and any other points of entry. Once it’s calibrated, the sensor will detect any intrusion attempts. By using a number of these across the house, it’s possible to pinpoint intrusion attempts right down to the exact point of entry. Combine this with the camera and fob system… and you’ve got a complete security solution for tracking who’s entering, when and where.
Using the Somfy One System in our office, it became apparent that there was still some major shortcomings. Perhaps the biggest is the application, as so many of the features were disabled at the time of testing. While it’s well designed and simple to use, it wasn’t possible to edit motion detection sensitivity or siren triggering functions, meaning the camera couldn’t do any of the advanced features advertised. The siren triggering is immensely annoying, as in its current state the Somfy will make a noise for every single alert it sees. If you want a covert surveillance camera for the office, this completely defeats the purpose. We had no option but to disable the thing completely, leaving only basic surveillance functionality and real-time alerts. Equally, the calendar proved to be a little less intuitive than we expected, with confusing controls for more granular editing. Setting up multiple activation times on specific days requires the creation of alarms, which is less than ideal. We’d much rather it was laid out in a simple calendar format, where you can just highlight the desired portion of the day.
The Somfy One is a marked improvement over the previous MyFox product we tested, though there’s still some bugs to be ironed out. The hardware itself is great, with a solid camera and excellent subscription-free features. Sadly, the software feels grossly unfinished and must be updated to include the more advanced options. Currently, it’s impossible to get the most out of this smart little system.