If you are looking at making your home smarter, and securing it at the same time, then the Panasonic Home Monitoring and Control Kit might be the product for you.
This kit includes an indoor camera, two window/door sensors, a smart plug and the central smart home hub to control the whole system, which is a simple setup to get started with, however, it won’t be enough to secure your entire home.
On every unit you will find a black and white coloured plastic design, which does look rather boring, however, the contrast does help draw the eye, whilst allowing it to blend in with your other equipment at the same time.
Both the hub and the camera can be easily wall mounted with the included accessories, or just sat flat on a surface if you prefer while the window/ door units can either be screwed on or attached via the included sticky pads.
The hub is sized at 130 x 140 x 42mm and the camera is 75 x 75 x 102mm, so if you prefer a bit of extra space then wall mounting might be the better option, especially with the camera, as wall mounting that will allow you to properly position it.
You should also note that the hub has a bright square-shaped light on it, which remains green whilst disarmed, and red when the system is armed. Because of this light, I wouldn’t put this anywhere where you might find it annoying, however, if you wish to do so, you can turn it off via the app.
The setup of the smart home kit is actually extremely simple, first make sure you have downloaded the Panasonic Home Networking app on your iOS, Android or Windows device, as this will take you through the step-by-step process of setting the hub up.
Basically, this consists of plugging the hub in, pressing the WiFi connect button and then linking it to your WiFi, it really is that simple.
Then to get everything else connected there are a couple of buttons you need to press, first hold the valid connection button on the hub until it flashes, and then hold the button on the device, once connected the hub will beep and you are ready to go.
In total, this whole process took about 5 minutes to connect the hub and all of the included accessories, however, this would be increased if you were to add-on additional components to enhance your system.
But for around £230, what you get is pretty decently priced, although it would be nice to have more than two window/door sensors.
It does all this through the DECT Ultra Low Energy standard, which will make communications between the connected devices and the hub invisible to most consumer-grade products, which means it should be harder for the system to be hacked.
What it is like to use
Given the small amount of, sensors, and just the singular smart plug, there’s not much you can do with just this kit, personally, I had the smart plug set-up for an outside light, one of the sensors on the front door, the other sensor on the back door, and the camera on a shelf.
The hub is able to sync to up to four cameras and 50 other devices, so you can definitely improve upon it if you are willing to spend the cash, with the possibility of adding outside cameras, extra indoor cameras, more window/door sensors, home sirens, motion sensors, more smart plugs, a water leak sensor, keychain remote, backup battery, cordless headset or an access keypad.
However, window/door sensors cost £25, the siren costs £35, and the cameras will set you back up to £100 each, so things will soon get expensive if you want to cover your whole home.
Once you have set everything up you then control it over the Panasonic app, which has a decent design, which isn’t too exciting to look at, but definitely gets the job done, and is pretty self-explanatory to use, featuring quick access buttons to the three alert setting: disarm; Arm: Away; and Arm: At Home, as well as quick access menus to the various connected smart devices.Once armed, the hub will automatically activate any of the window/door sensors you have set up, as well as any motion trackers. You can also add extra settings on top of this in order to extend the system to do things like turn on the recording when armed, or listen to sound from the indoor camera.
Any recorded footage from any cameras you have is stored on a microSD card that you can plug into the back of the hub, which does mean you might want to hide the hub itself, but also provides better security as you won’t be uploading to the cloud, this also means there are no extra hidden charges.
You are also able to set the app to alert you when one of these sensors are triggered, and then monitor these events right from the app.
In total, you can register a total of eight mobile devices to the hub, however only the first four of those can be used to control the system, so make sure to add your priority devices, before additional ones. Alongside that, the camera is only able to record at a maximum of 60fps 640 x 480 resolution, which is fine for everyday recording, however, it doesn’t do well for distance recording or low light recording.
I also found problems with the connection to the app on quite a regular basis, I’m unsure if this had something to do with the hub, my internet, the app, or my phone, however, it did mean it often took a long time to access recordings.
If you want something easy to set up and use, then the Panasonic home The monitoring system is definitely a good piece of kit, and most of the sensors will secure your home well enough to give you great piece of mind, even the camera’s resolution will be fine for most.
That said, the camera’s resolution is probably the biggest flaw in the system, and if you do want an output that’s a little more viewable, then Panasonic’s system might not be the one for you, all that said, with no monthly maintenance or storage charges, it could turn out to be the cheapest option, despite its £230 one-off fee to buy the system itself.
If you do want to pick one up, then a range of retailers and online stores are selling them now, Currys & PC World have the kit we reviewed for £230 currently, among the other accessories that you can add on to the system.
Disclosure: Currys & PC World sent us this kit for review purposes.