Piper Review

Piper Review
Piper Review
Piper Review
Piper Review
Piper Review
Introduction


The home is evolving in more ways than we can imagine. In the last couple years alone, we’ve seen this surge in the concept of a “smart” connected home – where we’re able to monitor and control certain things through the power of our smartphones. One particular device that’s aiming to unify the experience is Piper, a system that blends together video monitoring, security, and automation, to give the user complete access to what’s happening at home. If peace of mind is something you yearn for, then Piper seems to be playing the correct tune for the occasion.

Design

It doesn’t try to look discrete at all, but we do like that it features a battery backup system.

Even though Piper is a system of devices that work in conjunction together, the main unit itself is something that resembles your standard looking remote camera – albeit, it’s enhanced to accrue additional data on top of video feeds. Essentially, it’s a free-standing or mountable camera with a 1920 x 1080 Omnivision CMOS sensor with a wide 180-degree fisheye lens. Not only that, it’s also packing a bunch of sensors, like ambient light, temperature, and humidity sensors, to aggregate data that can be accessed remotely through a connected device.

As for the housing itself, we wouldn’t say it’s necessarily discrete looking, especially when it’s set up as a free-standing unit with its aluminum stand, but it’s at least sporting a clean finish with its glossy white plastic casing. On its façade, we have its camera, sensors, speaker, and LED notification light – while in the rear, we have its power connection in addition to the AA battery backup compartment. Its main source of power is drawn through its wired connection, but in the event that’s cut, the battery backup provides additional use.

Supplementing Piper is the wealth of optional Z-Wave accessories, which are needed to really give the home that “smart” finish. In particular, there’s the Z-Wave door/window sensor, which pairs with Piper to inform us when a door/window is opened – and even perform an action, such as automatically start recording video. Additionally, there’s also the Z-Wave smart switch that has an outlet on it, allowing us to turn on/off whatever is connected to it remotely. For example, we can have a lamp plugged into it, so we can manually or automatically turn it on/off.

 

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Piper Review

Piper Review
Piper Review
Piper Review
Piper Review
Piper Review
Introduction


The home is evolving in more ways than we can imagine. In the last couple years alone, we’ve seen this surge in the concept of a “smart” connected home – where we’re able to monitor and control certain things through the power of our smartphones. One particular device that’s aiming to unify the experience is Piper, a system that blends together video monitoring, security, and automation, to give the user complete access to what’s happening at home. If peace of mind is something you yearn for, then Piper seems to be playing the correct tune for the occasion.

Design

It doesn’t try to look discrete at all, but we do like that it features a battery backup system.

Even though Piper is a system of devices that work in conjunction together, the main unit itself is something that resembles your standard looking remote camera – albeit, it’s enhanced to accrue additional data on top of video feeds. Essentially, it’s a free-standing or mountable camera with a 1920 x 1080 Omnivision CMOS sensor with a wide 180-degree fisheye lens. Not only that, it’s also packing a bunch of sensors, like ambient light, temperature, and humidity sensors, to aggregate data that can be accessed remotely through a connected device.

As for the housing itself, we wouldn’t say it’s necessarily discrete looking, especially when it’s set up as a free-standing unit with its aluminum stand, but it’s at least sporting a clean finish with its glossy white plastic casing. On its façade, we have its camera, sensors, speaker, and LED notification light – while in the rear, we have its power connection in addition to the AA battery backup compartment. Its main source of power is drawn through its wired connection, but in the event that’s cut, the battery backup provides additional use.

Supplementing Piper is the wealth of optional Z-Wave accessories, which are needed to really give the home that “smart” finish. In particular, there’s the Z-Wave door/window sensor, which pairs with Piper to inform us when a door/window is opened – and even perform an action, such as automatically start recording video. Additionally, there’s also the Z-Wave smart switch that has an outlet on it, allowing us to turn on/off whatever is connected to it remotely. For example, we can have a lamp plugged into it, so we can manually or automatically turn it on/off.



Piper app

Simple to operate, the Piper app gives us complete access and control to what’s happening at home.

Using Piper requires the download of the accompanying Piper app, which is available for Android and iOS devices so far. For those of you wondering, there’s no web browser access yet for it, but the app is pretty straightforward and simple to use. Running the app, we’re first required to register Piper with our account, and from there, we’re taken to the Dashboard. At a glance, we’re given details regarding indoor/outdoor temperatures, notifications/events, and we’re given the option to select its various modes.

Under the vitals section, we can quickly view all pertinent data recorded by Piper’s environmental sensors from the past 48 hours, which includes the outdoor temperature, indoor temperature, relative humidity, ambient light, ambient sound, and motion. To tell you the truth, the data is handy because we’re given a great oversight in the environmental conditions at home. If there’s a spike in temperature change, Piper will notify us – or if a loud sound was heard, we’ll also be informed about that.

The Live Video section is arguably what we constantly access the most with the app, seeing that we’re given a live video stream on our mobile device. Due to its wide-angle fisheye lens, Piper is able to provide us with wide view of the particular room it’s placed in, and from there, we can pan, tilt, and zoom digitally by interacting with the app. There’s a quad-view, too, that breaks up the feed into four separate windows – where we can set up each one individually to focus on a different area of the feed.

Finally, the last two categories, Controls and Rules, allow us to schedule and execute various actions respectively. For example, we can go to the Controls tab to set Piper to automatically turn on the lights at a specified time during weekdays and weekends. Conversely, the Rules tab permits us to modify the various modes of Piper – Stay, Away, and Vacation. When we’re home, we can place Piper to Stay mode, so it doesn’t send us any notifications. However, we can set specific rules with Away mode that will automatically record video if motion is detected by the camera – or when a loud sound is detected. Naturally, we can fine tune each of the rules to our liking.

Connectivity


Considering that Piper requires a data connection to work, it needs to be placed within reasonable distance to your home router. With its built-in 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi radio, we’re able to generally maintain a usable connection of around 25 feet – while the various Z-Wave accessories connect to Piper via their own proprietary wireless connection, which get up to 50 feet of connectivity in our experience.

Performance

With its wide-angle camera, we’re given a good bird’s eye view, but its quality is a bit soft. However, it’s superb at monitoring several things.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the video feed quality. Even though Piper employs a 1920 x 1080 Omnivision CMOS sensor, the quality of the video feed through a smartphone favors a softer toned look. It’s made more apparent when we use its digital zoom, causing it to look even more indistinct – so it’s not effective to decipher text that’s splashed on a box or something. Despite that, we really appreciate the wide view of the scenery it’s able to encompass. In fact, when we place Piper in the corner of a room, we’re able to get a good bird’s eye look of the entire scene.

Indeed, it’s pretty nice that Piper is able to automatically record video when motion is detected, so that we can preview it at a later time, but we also appreciate that we can have 2-way communication as well. Therefore, it makes for a fantastic video monitor feed – where we’re able to speak something through the smartphone app, which then relays it to Piper’s internal speaker. Luckily, Piper’s latency isn’t too bad, so it’s usable for communicating with someone who’s at home. Specifically, there’s only a 2-second delay with the connection.

In truly making it a smart home solution, we really like how we’re given control to nearly every aspect of the system. From being to turn on the lights at will (or automatically), to getting notifications when the front door is opened, Piper is a versatile in-home solution that keeps us informed about every environmental change.

Conclusion


Piper Review
Piper Review
By itself, Piper is sold for $199 online, which includes the main camera unit. In order to expand its functionality, you’ll need to purchase the various Z-Wave accessories – like the Z-Wave door/window sensor and Z-Wave smart switch, which sell for $49.95 and $59.95 respectively. Naturally, the cost can quickly pile up if you purchase them individually, but the company offers a $339.00 bundle that consists of the Piper and any 3 Z-Wave accessories of your choice. And yes, you can even set up additional Piper cameras to your account – allowing multiple video feeds for different rooms in your home.

Looking at the $199 cost of Piper alone, it’s undoubtedly a bit pricey for just a home monitoring camera. However, we have to bear in mind that it does much more than just record video when motion is detected – or accessing its live video stream. Populating various environmental data, like indoor/outdoor temperature, ambient lighting/sound, and much more, Piper gives us detailed information about what’s happening at home. And yes, it even doubles as a useful 2-way communicating system.

Adding in the various Z-Wave accessories obviously increase its functionality, such as the case with the Z-Wave smart switch, which allows us to remotely turn on/off lights. Therefore, it’s basically essential to get the accessories to reach Piper’s true potential. The $199 cost of the unit is comparable to other offerings, like Nest’s Dropcam, but its video feed quality is a little bit too soft for our liking – despite placing the feed to its highest quality setting. All told, with Piper calling the shots at home, it’s a splendid solution that we can count on in giving us timely notifications and actions to give is peace of mind that all is well.

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