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Myfox Home Security review: Reality fails to live up to the promise of the demo

Michael Brown | Aug. 5, 2015
As is too often the case, my enthusiasm for the Myfox Home Security System--engendered by a 30-minute pre-launch demo--has waned following real-world testing in my home. Quality-control concerns let some air out of the balloon; discovering the system's limitations lowered my opinion a bit more.

IntelliTag door/window sensors

The IntelliTag door/window sensor is easily the most impressive component in the Myfox ecosystem. Most sensors of this type are two-piece devices: There's a battery, a steel plate, and a radio transmitter inside one enclosure, and a small magnet in another. One piece gets mounted to the door or window, and the other is attached to the door or window frame.

When the door or window opens, breaking the magnetic field between the two pieces, the transmitter sends a signal to the alarm system. Thanks to this magnetic field, your alarm system should always be able to tell you if the door or window is open or closed. And when you activate your alarm system, it will warn that you've forgotten to close a window or door. That's important in any living quarters, and it's particularly valuable in larger homes.

The IntelliTag is remarkable in that it's a one-piece unit. Rather than depending on a magnetic field, it's stuffed with sensors--vibration, motion, and tilt--plus a gyroscope and a CPU. With all that silicon, Myfox says its sensor can discern between a knock on the door, a ball hitting the door, and a burglar violently shaking the door or attempting to kick it in. If it's the latter, the Myfox siren will go off and the system will send you a text message and email warning of the intrusion. The siren should convince the would-be intruder to beat a hasty retreat; but it's up to you to call the police.

Alternatively, you can recruit friends, family, and/or neighbors to agree to receive email and text alerts. This could be useful when you're far away from home and unable to investigate what's happening, or if your smartphone battery fails and you can't receive alerts. Anyone you designate as family or friend will be able to access the system and cameras for up to 30 minutes after an alert is generated. Neighbors will receive the same alerts and be able to access the system for 30 minutes, but they won't be able to see what's happening on the cameras.

I tested all three of the above scenarios, and the IntelliTag lived up to its promise, triggering the siren only when I bumped the door violently. This makes the IntelliTag superior to conventional sensors when used with windows and French doors because breaking the glass won't break the conventional sensor's magnetic field--the sensor will never send a signal to the alarm system in that case. But where a magnetic-field sensor can inform you at any time whether a door or window is open or closed, the IntelliTag can only send a message when it's moving or vibrating. When you arm the system, the sensors can't warn you that you've forgotten to close particular doors or windows (each sensor gets a unique name).

 

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