Samsung SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit Review: Solid But Pricey

ADT is a well-recognized brand in home security, and Samsung's SmartThings is the best smart home hub. The two companies have joined forces for the Samsung SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit, which not only monitors your house but also lets you control connected devices. But considering this kit starts at a whopping $550, there are better DIY security kits that are less expensive and offer the same sort of functionality.

Design and Setup

The Samsung SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit comes with two entry sensors, a motion sensor and the ADT Security Hub, which features a 7-inch LCD touch panel. The hub itself looks like a bulky older Android tablet, with a sticky touch display that doesn't feel very modern, especially for Samsung. The hub serves as mission control for the security kit, so you'll have to install it where it can be accessed easily by everyone in your household. There are wall-mounting kits included in the box, and there's also an optional stand to prop up the device on a table.

Setting up the hub is fairly straightforward: Plug in the device, and then follow the instructions on-screen. Once the interface is ready to go, a code will appear on-screen, indicating it's time to download the SmartThings mobile app on your iOS or Android device. After that's linked, you can start pairing the ADT Security Hub with the kit's other accessories.

The hub itself looks like a bulky older Android tablet that doesn't feel very modern, especially for Samsung.

Both the entry sensors and the motion sensor are easy to pair and merely require a scan of their respective bar codes, which you'll find embedded on each device's battery tab. They're quick to install and stick to any surface with the included adhesive tape. They aren't the same accessories that pair with the standard SmartThings hub, though, or any other smart hub for that matter. ADT opted to keep its accessories proprietary.

Professional Monitoring

ADT's professional monitoring packages are pretty affordable. Rates vary from $15 to $35 a month depending on the type of monitoring you have set up in your home, though if you pay the highest tier, you're covered for everything from fire and carbon monoxide detection to intruder and panic alerts. You can also edit and cancel your plan as necessary through the SmartThings app, which keeps it easy and convenient.

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Active monitoring services also include LTE cellular backup, compared with the 3G offerings of other companies, in case the internet goes out at your house while the system is armed.

The ADT professional monitoring packages are pretty affordable.

ADT doesn't have the cheapest monthly prices for home monitoring, though, at the tier featured here, it's cheaper than both Nest's and Abode's monthly fees without a contract. SimpliSafe offers a $15-a-month tier for professional monitoring, however, and it's a much better deal when you also consider that the kit is about half the price of the Samsung SmartThings ADT product.

Performance

The ADT Security Hub isn't the most stylish security system on the market, but it is effective, especially if you opt for professional monitoring. To arm the system, you can use the SmartThings mobile app or hit the Away button on the hub's digital interface. This will start a 2-minute countdown before the motion and entry sensors are armed.

Once you're out of the house, you can check the SmartThings app to see the status of the security system. You can also enable it remotely, without having to deal with the stress of an exit timer.

If you're at home and you want the alarm on, you can choose the Stay option instead so that only the entry sensors are armed. This mode will trigger the alarm if you activate a door or window equipped with a sensor. You'll have to choose beforehand which doors and windows are bypassed in this particular mode; otherwise, you'll get a call from ADT every time you open a window (if you have professional monitoring enabled).  

Samsung and ADT's proprietary motion and entry sensors don't work within other security ecosystems, but at least they work well. The entry sensors are immediately responsive, and the ADT Security Hub will chime the second a door or window is opened. The motion detector is just as sensitive and will alert you any time it senses movement, whether it's a prowling house cat or a door opening from the other side. Unfortunately, you can't adjust its sensitivity.

One major caveat to the SmartThings ADT security kit is that you can't use non-ADT-branded devices to monitor your home.

This security system is not easy to trick, especially if you have more than one of ADT's very sensitive motion detectors facing the common areas of your home. By default, the hub gives you 30 seconds to enter your PIN into the base station before it calls ADT. I would have liked a more user-friendly way to disable the alarms when opening the door. For example, the Abode security system offers a geolocation feature that disarms the system as you approach the house. Considering its high starting price, the ADT security kit could have at least included one of its key-chain remotes ($20, sold separately) to help turn off the alarm.

ADT's 85-decibel alarm is not as loud as rival SimpliSafe's 105-decibel base station, but it's still so piercing, you'll have to cover your ears as you approach it.

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In the event of a real emergency, there's a large panic button that you can press to call the authorities related to your situation. Even if you don't have an ADT-monitored smoke detector installed in the house, you can use the security hub to call the fire department. There's also a button for medical services and the police.

Smart-Home Compatibility

The ADT security hub can help you build your smart home. Samsung SmartThings is one of the biggest connected-home ecosystems available, and it is compatible with nearly every third-party device and service, including Nest, Netgear Arlo and the very extensive Philips Hue lighting system. You can even link those accessories and the ADT sensors.

But one major caveat to the SmartThings ADT security kit is that you can't use non-ADT-branded devices to monitor your home. There are add-on options available directly from the company — including a smoke alarm, a carbon dioxide alarm and a water sensor — but they are proprietary. Also, while devices synced through SmartThings work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice commands, the ADT accessories are not yet compatible.

Bottom Line

Samsung and ADT have managed to put both professional monitoring and a smart-home hub into the same device, and while both parts work really well independently, there's still some holes to fill before it feels like completed product. The security hub itself could use a major design polish — at least a thinner panel — while the SmartThings app could be cleaner.

If you're looking for a cheaper security system that offers smart-home automation and professional home monitoring, try the $280 Abode Essential Starter Kit instead. It's nearly half the price, and while it doesn't include as many accessories as the ADT and SmartThings kit, it also serves as a Zigbee/Z-Wave-compatible smart hub. While it may be expensive, the Samsung SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit is a very capable system backed by two of the most reputable companies in their respective areas.

Credit: Tom's Guide

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