We first covered Sentri in its crowdfunding stage in early 2015, and after running a successful Kickstarter campaign, Sentri released its All-In-One Home Monitoring device around Thanksgiving of 2015. It’s been out for a little over a year now, which means it’s time for an update.
So what is it? Sentri is an all-in-one home monitoring device, which means that it’s a single device that visually monitors your home—in theory, simplifying and replacing a multi-device security system. Sentri provides visual monitoring in two senses. It’s primarily a camera that allows you to watch activity in your home remotely via the Sentri app. With its tablet-like display, Sentri is also its own interface, providing visual renderings of all the data it collects—from motion detection timelines to air quality trends. We’ll cover Sentri’s strengths, weaknesses, service plans, and more so you can make an informed decision about whether or not this is the right device for your home.
- No contract or service subscription required
- Easy setup
- Sleek, modern design
- Remote monitoring
- Temperature, air quality, and humidity monitoring
- Responsive customer service team
- Battery backup
- Camera only 720p with no zoom or pan
- App has limited tablet compatibility (and no Windows app)
- Limited and glitchy connectivity to other devices
- No way to directly download captured video to share with neighbors or police
Tiers of service
One of my favorite things about Sentri is that after purchasing the device, you don’t pay any service contracts or fees. Every customer has access to the same features, but length of access to video, snapshot, and alert history depends on the service package. Data gathered from the environmental sensors is available for 30 days for all customers, and everyone can access the past 12 hours of video history. If you want longer video history, there are four tiers of paid service to choose from:
|History storage length (video, snapshot, alerts)||Monthly price||Annual price|
|Last 7 days||$9.99||$199.88|
|Last 30 days||$19.99||$239.88|
|Last 1 year||$99.99||$1,199.88|
What Sentri can do
Sentri—priced at $199 and sold exclusively through Amazon—is a tablet-like touchscreen interface with a camera, motion detector, and sensors that track your home’s temperature, humidity, and air quality. All this information is accessible through the interface itself, or, if you’d like to monitor remotely as well, you can download the iOS or Android app for your smartphone.
Here’s what you get with Sentri:
- A touchscreen interface that can be hung on a wall or set on a surface.
- A 120-degree wide-angle 720p HD camera with audio that you can stream live from anywhere with Wi-Fi access. Infrared night vision turns on automatically for 24/7 visual monitoring.
- A motion detector that alerts you and records a video clip when it detects movement in that room. If you have pets, you may decide to turn this feature off, though you may enjoy seeing your cats move about the house throughout the day.
- A thermometer that allows you to spot any unplanned temperature changes, which could indicate a variety of things, including broken windows or fire. If you have a smart thermostat connected, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat (available on Amazon), you can also remotely adjust the temperature.
- A humidity sensor that provides you with humidity trends in your home. High indoor humidity levels allow fungi, mites, molds, and mildew to flourish, causing expensive damage to both your home and your health.
- An air quality monitor that detects volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can seriously affect your health. It can’t identify the source of the VOCs, but you can at least watch for trends and take action accordingly.
- A siren that can be sounded from the app to scare away intruders.
- A backup battery that lasts about four hours in case of power failure, but otherwise Sentri needs to be plugged into a power source.
- iOS and Android app compatibility for remote monitoring, including mobile notifications and a timeline of alerts.
- Two customizable alert modes—Home and Away—so you can receive the updates you want while you’re gone.
- Compatibility with other devices that you can also control from your Sentri interface and app. Currently, compatible devices include the Nest Learning Thermostat (available on Amazon), Philips Hue Lights (available on Amazon), WeMo Light Switch (available on Amazon), and WeMo Smart Plug (available on Amazon).
Sentri has one of the easiest setups I’ve seen in a product like this. You more or less take it out of the box, plug it in, download the app (if you want—it’s not required), connect your app to the device, and it’s ready to go.
Device and mobile app interfaces
Sentri’s interfaces, both on the device and on the app, are intuitive, easy to use, and pleasant to look at. The Sentri itself looks like a high-end digital clock, and you can choose from several different screen wallpapers to match your decor or mood. From the interface, you can analyze a month’s worth of data picked up by Sentri’s sensors, watch video footage (how far back you can watch depends on your subscription package), and manage compatible devices. These features can also be accessed remotely from anywhere via the Sentri app.
Sentri put together an in-depth support/FAQ page that covers everything from shipping to setup. From this page you can also submit an online tech support ticket, should you have any problems with your device. I wish its website had an online live chat tech support feature, but when I emailed the Sentri team with a slew of questions, they responded in less than 24 hours. Based upon what others have said, this responsiveness seems like the norm, and they even respond to customer complaints on Amazon to ensure that connectivity issues are ironed out.
Room for growth
Particularly in light of the promises made during the Kickstarter campaign, Sentri has room to continue to improve.
As it exists right now, Sentri feels like half a home security system. It gives you a single video feed and motion alerts and allows you to track a few environmental factors in your home, but it doesn’t connect additional home security devices like door/window sensors or extra cameras. You have to buy one Sentri device for every room you wish to monitor, which is far pricier than a system that has one hub that connects to multiple less-expensive cameras.
With the exception of the Nest thermostat, Sentri also doesn’t integrate with any home automation devices that would allow you to do anything remotely with the data its sensors gather. Additionally, Sentri seems to overstate the importance of some of its features. For example, high indoor humidity can cause damage to your home and your health over time, but why has Sentri made this a priority over smoke detection, which will cause damage a lot more quickly? I’d like to see Sentri connect to the Nest Protect smoke/CO detector.
I’d also like to see Sentri connect to more home automation devices, like WeMo’s slow cooker (available on Amazon) and coffee maker. If it can pull off connecting to devices like these, I think Sentri will be a truly useful hub for both home security and home convenience. Because it already connects to one Nest device and one WeMo device, I have hope that this compatibility will expand to other products from these brands in the future.
Moving forward, Sentri would do well to offer the ability to directly download video footage or still images to share with neighbors or law enforcement. When I spoke to a Sentri representative via email, he said that if you email them with your account number and the time and date of the footage you’d like to see, they’ll send it to you. That’s promising, but with a self-monitored system like this, I’d rather not have to deal with a middleman, especially if I’m paying for a service plan.
If you’re looking for something similar to Sentri but want to use multiple cameras, check out our Canary review. Canary offers most of the same features, including motion sensitivity, a thermometer, and a humidity sensor, but with a higher-definition 1080p camera and a discount when you purchase multiple devices for multiple rooms.
If you want a more comprehensive home security and automation system, take a look at our top pick for self-monitored home security, Samsung’s SmartThings. Both Sentri and SmartThings are hubs for DIY home security, but SmartThings is operated entirely through a smartphone app rather than through an interactive device interface. SmartThings has truly broad compatibility and can connect to additional cameras, door/window sensors, lights, thermostats, leak sensors, power outlets, and speakers. Of course, the more security and automation, the higher the overall cost, but you can custom-build your own SmartThings system according to your needs.
So—is Sentri right for me?
Sentri will meet some people’s needs, but not everyone’s. In short, Sentri is worth it if you are looking for easy setup and have a small space to monitor, like a one- or two-bedroom single-story apartment or house. If you have a larger space to monitor or you want to spend some time creating your own custom security system, there are better products out there for you.
I’ll certainly keep my eye on Sentri moving forward. As long as the team continues to roll out software updates and move toward expanding compatibility with other devices, Sentri is well on its way to being a truly unique way of remotely monitoring your home.
Do you have a Sentri? What has been your experience so far? Let us know in the comments.