Can you protect your home for £99? That's what this new X-Sense kit I've been sent claims to do. It's a LoRaWAN box with a claimed 2Km range for its variety of low-power sensors.
The kit comes with two Infrared motion sensors, and four door / window sensors. Here's what it looks like:
The base station is an anonymous white box, with a small speaker grille at the back and a USB-C charging port. It connects to your network via WiFi - I would have preferred Ethernet for reliability.
There's also a key-fob, rawlplugs and screws for fitting, and a bunch of adhesive pads if you don't want to drill into your walls. A 10W USB-C charger is also included for the base station. There's a basic getting started guide with links to the apps.
Batteries are included - which is nice. The battery compartment slides off easily.
Once the sensors are attached to the door or wall, they can be easily slid off so you can access the batteries.
Yet another bloody app! I really wish that something like Apple's Homekit was available for Android. Perhaps I finally need to set aside a long weekend and get Home Assistant running on a Raspberry Pi to take care of this.
But, that said, it's pretty good! It is logically laid out, easy to use, and well translated into English. You can scan the QR code on the back of each sensor to add it to the system, then name and configure it. Dead easy to do.
Once you've scanned the QR codes on all the devices, you can stick them up on walls and doors. The motion sensors have corner fittings, which let you fit them like this:
The entry sensors are a bit chunky. They can be a bit hard to fit flush - but the magnet detects from a few centimetres away, so they can be fitted like this:
You can arm and disarm the system using the app, or the little remote that it comes with.
The sensors all use LoRaWAN - that's a Long Range, low power protocol which is designed for these sorts of sensors. Because of that, you can place the sensors in an out-building up to 2,000 metres away. Sadly, my gardens aren't quite that large - but I was able to confirm that the sensors still worked when I was down the street. In the urban environment, they stopped working once they were over 100 metres away - but that's long range enough for most people.
The batteries are CR123A and claim 10 years life for the door sensors and 5 years for the motion sensor. Although that will depend on how often they're firing. The hub has a 12 hour battery back up.
The idea of LoRaWAN is that the sensors should be able to transmit through any open gateway nearby. Sadly, I think the early promise of The Things Network hasn't come to pass. So you're reliant on the sensor being near its dedicated gateway.
I couldn't see a way to turn the hub into a generic LoRaWAN gateway. It might be nice if it could be used to improve network coverage.
nmap couldn't detect any open ports on the device. About the only information it leaked was the MAC address, showing it's built around the Espressif ESP8266.
A quick rummage around the app didn't find any obvious flaws - but I didn't conduct an extensive test. It requires a decent strength password. It also allows for multiple accounts - so you don't have to share passwords.
Yes. Once I armed the house from the app, it started sending me instant push notifications when the sensors were triggered. It only took a few minutes to set everything up and add my wife to the account.
I've not had a break in - thankfully! - but all my tests shows the alarm sounding, notifications firing, and everything just worked first time.
It's on Amazon for £169.99 - plus an instant £70 discount. Taking the effective price to £99.
This is a great little system, but you need to be aware of its limitations.
- There's no API that I could find. That means you can't integrate it with the rest of your house. So no turning on lightbulbs when motion is detected.
- Extra entry sensors cost about £20. That's not too bad - but probably too expensive to put one on every window in your home.
- Motion sensors are a similar price.
- Because it is a closed ecosystem, you can't add 3rd party products to it. X-Sense do offer a compatible smoke alarm - but that's about it.
As the era of permanently WFH comes to an end - now is probably a good time to make sure your home is secure. This covers the basics - it will remind you if you left a door or window open, and it can sound an alarm when it detects motion. Will that scare off a burglar? Let's hope so!
It would probably be wise to pair this with a eufyCam Wireless Home Security Camera System.
Like all IoT stuff, you're reliant on a 3rd party app - and you have to hope that the alerts come through in a timely fashion. You also have to place your trust that the hardware manufacturer doesn't get hacked - but there's limited physical damage they can do if that's the case.
But, for long range monitoring, it's hard to beat at this price.
Now, who wants to send me some IoT door locks to review…?