Review: Panasonic Smart Home Safety Kit KXHN6012EW
When I was asked if I wanted the chance to review the Panasonic Smart Home Saftey Kit KXHN6012EW, I jumped at the offer. It’s geeky, it’s security-based and I can watch my home remotely via a camera.
Sad as it may sound, I was really excited to try it out.
At the moment I make use of an old iPhone and the AtHome Camera app to remotely view what’s happening at home, but that can be temperamental, though it’s something I put up with given that the app is free. But to have a piece of equipment made by Panasonic, whose name is synonymous with quality was something else.
When I received the box, I unpacked it straight away and reached for the easy set-up instructions.
In the box was a decent amount of kit:
- one Hub
- one Indoor camera
- two Window / Door sensors
- one Smart plug
It’s probably best described as a starter kit. For a two-bedroom flat like mine, it’s plenty, but with a bigger house you’d probably need more equipment. That’s fine, though. The system is extendable and you can add more items to it if need be.
Set up is fairly easy. You plug in the main hub, which is what everything else on the system connects wirelessly to, and follow the simple instructions to get it started. You then add your other Panasonic Smart Home products on one-by-one using a free app which is available on Android and iTunes.
At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. Here’s where my review falls apart slightly.
I followed the instructions step-by-step. I downloaded the app, pressed the correct buttons when I was told to and… nothing.
The hub flashed red and green, rather than being a solid colour. I was stumped. I started over again but had the same result.
Not to be deterred, I Googled the problem, but couldn’t find an answer. I then went to Facebook to speak to others that I knew were reviewing it, but nobody seemed to have experienced the same problem.
Eventually, I conceded defeat and called the Panasonic UK helpline on 0330 333 1112 (Calls from landlines are typically charged up to 9p per minute; calls from mobiles typically cost between 3p and 40p per minute. Calls from landlines and mobiles are included in free call packages)
After spending the best part of 15 minutes troubleshooting the problems with a phone rep, I was told that my hub was faulty and needed to be replaced. Fortunately it falls under warranty and was easily exchanged.
If you find yourself with this piece of kit - specifically the KX-HNB600 hub - it’s worth making a note that it can be reset by turning it off, pressing the “Wifi setup” button on the rear of the hub and the “camera” and “other device” buttons on the side of the hub all at the same time (and yes, you do need to be some kind of contortionist to do this) and then turn the power on. Keep holding the buttons down until the hub’s LED indicator is yellow, and then release the buttons.
Apparently that works for a lot of problems but didn’t in my case.
I got the system swapped out and began the process again a few days later.
This time, it was successful. From unboxing to connecting everything up probably took thirty minutes, but I was following everything step by step and checking everything carefully as I went.
I chose to position the camera in the living room, which is the main area of the home, with a sensor on the main door.
Once everything was set up and connected, I could view it all on the app. I have renamed each item within the app so that I recognise instantly where each thing is. For example, the sensor on my front door, previously named Sensor 1, is now called Front Door. Easy, huh?
You set the system through the app as well. I’m so out of tradition in terms of having an alarm that I always forget to turn it on as I leave the premises, which a standard alarm would require. With the app, the alarm can be set from anywhere. As regular readers may have guessed, I just set my alarm from the comfort of Costa Coffee.
What that means is that whenever the front door opens, the alarm on the hub will sound. More importantly for me, it will ping a message to me via the app to tell me that the alarm has been tripped. I can then log in to the app and have a look on the camera to see what is going on and assess the situation from there.
I also have the ability to preset the camera to capture movement in the house, so that it automatically records anyone passing in front of it. More than that, I can set certain areas that the camera sees and tell it to ignore those areas - ideal if part of the camera captures a curtain that blows in the wind, for example, that would normally set off the alarm.
The camera itself can record at two resolutions - High (640 x 480) and Low (320 x 240). I personally don’t see why anyone would choose lower quality other than to save on recording space, but the high-quality resolution is not something I would class as high quality myself. It is, however, sufficient for a decent picture.
If you see something on the camera, you can then use the app to talk to and listen back via the camera. Excellent for catching the kids out when they are left home alone and doing something they aren’t supposed to (not that my angels would ever do that, of course…)
It’s also worth noting that the system can be set for three different settings: Armed (away), which I have done above, Armed (at home), which is useful if you want to alarm your house as you sleep, and Disarmed.
The last piece of kit that comes with the Panasonic Smart Home Safety Kit is the Smart Plug. You pair the plug with the hub, plug in whatever appliance it is that you wish to control and then access it via the app again. Remember those plugs you used to be able to get (and probably still can) where you’d plug your lamp in, set the timer for a certain time, say 5pm, and when it reached that time the lamp would turn on, giving the impression to anyone passing by that somebody was at home.
The smart plug allows you to do something similar. However, unlike before where you’d have the lamp going on and off at the same time every day, you can remotely turn it on and off whenever you want to.
Overall I’ve had the system for a week and a bit. I wanted to review it primarily for the camera aspect, and unfortunately, I feel a little let down by that. The camera offers nothing extra than the AtHome System I was using before, with the exception that the Panasonic camera has a rather natty night vision mode. That sets it apart from the system I previously used, but it’s an expensive way to stand out.
However, as an alarm system, the Panasonic Smart Home Safety Kit is great. The basic kit probably exceeds what I need for my flat (quite frankly if someone can break in through a second-floor window, they have probably earned the right to burgle me), and is ideal for the basics in a house.
I love the fact that I can see instantly when the front door is opened and closed, especially as my kids have keys and don’t always announce when they are popping by.
The alarm element, which sounds through the hub when tripped, isn’t effective enough to repel would-be thieves. It reminds me more of the alarm on my phone which wakes me in the morning, rather than a piercing shrill which makes me want to run which you hear in shops and regular burglar alarms.
You can pop in a MicroSD card to the hub should you wish to have more space for recordings, which is probably worth doing given the cheap price of SD cards these days.
There’s a few boxes that the kit doesn’t tick. The camera is fixed, for example, so you have no way to move it once you’ve set it up. The alarm itself, as mentioned, isn’t worth setting and my first piece of kit didn’t work, though I assume that was sheer bad luck (possibly combined with a delivery company’s attempt to play football with the package) rather than an ongoing problem.
You can purchase the Panasonic Smart Home Safety Kit KXHN6012EW from Currys for £229.99.
Is it worth it? Yes. It’s a bit of an expense, but what price home security? You can certainly get cheaper systems, but Panasonic is a decent brand with good quality stuff. If you just want a home safety kit, without the monitoring aspect of the camera, you can try Panasonic KX-HN6010EW Home Safety Starter Kit for £129.99, also from Currys.
I was given this product for free in exchange for an honest review. A full disclosure policy is available on the website.