As the usage of smartphones and tablets become more common these days, consumer electronics manufacturers have been hard at work on making their products connected to the internet all the time, we’ve seen how LCD TVs evolved into connected Smart TVs, smart watches that makes phone calls and connects remotely to your smartphone, and even routers that you can manage remotely at the comfort at your hand. Sharp, a Japanese firm famous for its LCD panels for smartphones, have produced the region’s first cloud enabled security solution called the Cloud SmartHome Security System and we have been using it for a month, how does it compare to traditional and internet enabled security systems? We find out.
You are not buying a single hardware
Sharp’s Cloud SmartHome is a suite of security products rather than just selling individual hardware alone, while most surveillance hardware comes with different system and applications, Sharp has bundled HD IP Cameras, Door Sensors, a Siren, a Motion Sensor, Remote Controls and a Panic Button, all of theses devices are controlled and connected by one master hardware – the OverCloud Processing Unit (OPU), users will only need to download the smartphone app from Google Play or the Apple App Store to configure the security system.
While most internet enabled security systems will either rely on the manufacturer’s own cloud system or require a dedicated IP address to access remotely, Sharp uses Amazon’s reliable servers to deliver a consistently connected experience and we have to report that we have never faced any down time during the review period, apart from our country’s very unstable internet connection of course.
What makes Sharp’s solution really different from the rest of the pack is its simplicity at setting up the hardware, we’d call it a pretty dumb proof method as you don’t need to access any web interface to configure the surveillance hardware, Sharp has been extremely smart to print QR codes for every of its hardware and all the user needs to do is to make sure their smartphone cameras are working and with the Cloud SmartHome app installed, scan the QR code and make sure the device is within the OPU’s proximity and it’ll be activated instantly.
The Hardware and Usability
OverCloud Processing Unit (OPU)
The brain and master of every surveillance device in the package, the OPU is a proprietary router or station that features two connectivity options – RF and WiFi 802.11n, it serves as the gateway for the security devices and there is simply no way to access the device with a web interface, it has an Ethernet WAN port for internet connection, two USB ports for saving videos and pictures from the IP cameras and it unfortunately doesn’t support external hard drives despite having a rated amperage of 1A.
HD 1.3-Megapixel IP Camera with Loudspeaker and Microphone
With a field-of-view of 73.1 degrees and an aperture of f/2.0, this is definitely one of the best surveillance camera optics that you can find out there, Sharp’s HD IP camera has a built-in loudspeaker and microphone that outputs voice from your smartphone’s microphone and records sound from the environment respectively, it has a lux light that will enable night vision to the optics and users can save recorded videos to its built-in MicroSD card slot, which literally means you could just use the camera standalone even if the OPU isn’t available, the camera will record videos in 1280 x 960 resolution @ 30 fps which is sufficient for viewing surveillance footage.
In our tests, we are using a Streamyx 8 Mbps connection which has a paltry upload speed of 512 kbps and we have to report that the camera is still able to produce a pretty decent streaming quality when viewed with a stable HSPA+ connection.
The Door/Window sensor works similarly to any other products out there, it connects via RF (radio frequency) and depends on a magnet module to sense movement between the door or window. What’s really smart about it when someone attempts to remove the battery cover of the device, the alarm will be triggered if armed.
With a 120 degree and 10-40 feet of detection range, the motion sensor will trigger the alarm should it detect any movement in the spotted range, in our test we found out that the device could be a little over sensitive at outdoors, especially during the night where there’s shadows, it unintentionally trigger the alarm even when there’s nothing solid appearing in front of it and we certainly recommend disabling the device if you don’t really need it.
The Siren is one of our favorite hardware. First, it doesn’t sound like any police like siren, but it starts off with a low-pitched beep then slowly increasing its volume and pitch as the alarm continues to be triggered, eventually reaching an extremely high pitched sound that outputs a deafening 110dB, which can easily scare anyone away easily.
The last and most straightforward hardware, useful for kids and old folks who wants to get to you immediately and they just simply need to press that button to make the alarm go Boom!
Since you won’t need to be a genius to set up the hardware, Sharp’s software experience is pretty straightforward. For first time users, you’ll only need to sign up a free account using your mobile number and e-mail, you will also be able to give access to up to two family members if you want them to be able to access the security system.
The Cloud SmartHome Security app is technically the remote control to almost everything on the ecosystem, you’ll be able to add/remove devices, arm/disarm the system, retrieve stills and videos from the IP camera, and triggering the alarm manually.
Sharp has been considerate enough for users who do not have always on internet access and will allow configuring phone numbers without the need to have an online account with them, when the alarm triggers, a phone call will be made to the configured phone number to inform on the event however there is no way of disarming the alarm, which could be a shame and Sharp could’ve just achieve it by asking assigning IVR codes for it – For instance, press 1 to disarm or 2 to ignore the message.
Sharp’s security smartphone app is very well designed and has been a reliable app in our tests, which is also one of the features that sets apart from security systems that require users to sign in via a web console and streaming through unreliable RTMP protocols.
The Cloud SmartHome Security system is an extremely reliable, sophisticated yet easy to use solution with no complicated setups, its included surveillance hardware comprises of the very best features that you can find in other competitors and all of them are controlled under one single ecosystem, which sets itself different from its competitors.
Sharp sells the Starter Kit at RM2,499 that comes with two IP cameras, the OPU, two door sensors, one remote control and a USB flash drive while the Siren and Panic Button remote comes in an optional Alarm Kit which retails at RM999. The downside of this is that users will not be able to purchase one single hardware should they require to add on devices down the road, for instance if you wanted to buy just one additional IP camera, you’d have to purchase the HD Camera Kit that retails at RM999, which literally costs a bomb when you do the mathematics and those cameras could only well be worth around RM350 for its features in the market.
The Sharp Cloud SmartHome Security system is now available from SenHeng, SenQ, Harvey Norman and Best Denki and other authorized resellers nationwide, the security system is aimed and suitable for home and SOHO users.
+ No complicated hardware setup
+ Extremely reliable cloud service
+ Attractive starter kit bundle
+ Alerts when hardware is tampered
+ Modern smartphone app and comprehensive controls
The Not So Good:
– Dependent on internet connection
– Motion sensor hardware triggers unintentionally
– Additional hardware can be expensive
For more information on the Sharp Cloud SmartHome Security System, visit www.sharpsmarthome.com