Zmodo Pivot: Multifunctional Home Monitoring

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Image: Karen Walsh
Image: Karen Walsh

About a month ago, on a random Friday night, some dude knocks on our door and ends up roping us into a conversation about home security systems. After an hour, we dismissed him citing the $60/month fee for the service as something our house didn’t need. However, this got us thinking.

Comparing our home to those on our street, if I were someone wanting to rob a house? Mine wouldn’t be the one I’d choose. I enjoy my home, but it’s 1407 square feet in a neighborhood that abounds with 3000 square foot homes. Our house is on a main road, smaller than the others, with peeling paint thanks to the ivy that grows on it. The idea of spending $6000/year on a security system feels both unnecessary and indulgent. As we closed the door behind the salesman, I did begin to wonder what would be a good option for us.

Conversations with GeekDad Anthony led me to getting an offer to take a look at the Zmodo Pivot. The Pivot offers a 360 degree camera view that captures not only the room it’s in but also any area not blocked by a wall. I found this out the hard way when I originally placed it in line of my bathroom. Bad idea. Just, y’know, in case you were wondering. The Pivot’s camera is clear enough to take a good image from about 20 feet away.

Setup was fairly easy. Although me being me, it took me a few tries to get it to work. In the event that your Zmodo Pivot doesn’t connect to your wi-fi and phone immediately? Don’t just sit there and stare at the little circle running. A quick unplug/replug and immediate re-attempt got everything in order. Once I had the Pivot connected, the setup was fairly smooth.

The initial setup came with two sensors to be used on doors or windows. I can admit that as of this writing, I have not installed the sensors. I also openly admit that this is because I felt that the way my doors were, I couldn’t visualize the installation. However, honestly, since we placed the Pivot in the living room which is where the front doors are, the sensor there seemed unnecessary. In addition, anyone coming into my house would have to go through the living room anyway (see above re: small house). Having just the camera works out fine for us.

The Pivot’s motion sensor lives up to its reputation. If you’re ever curious about how sensitive it is? I got a notification on my phone that there was movement in the house when I was out. Turns out, upon viewing the video, the dog was whining and bouncing her crate around. She’s 12 lbs. So, there wasn’t a ton of movement, but the Pivot picked it up.

The other thing that I love is that given the fact that the Pivot isn’t small, it blends in well with all my other electronics meaning that if someone were to come into the house, they wouldn’t immediately recognize its existence. It fits in well because it looks like a stereo speaker (about half as wide and equally as tall as my Sonos speaker for comparison purposes). The only problem would be that because of where I’ve located it (see above re: bathroom) it is in an obvious location. If I hid it better, the slight mechanical whirring when the camera seeks the movement would be unnoticeable.

As far as the phone app, the idea is excellent. It’s easy to use. The notifications come right in. If I had to voice a point of lacking in enthusiasm, it would probably be that scheduling the camera off times doesn’t work as well as I’d like. I work from home, and my dog gets to roam free when I’m home. Having 99 notifications for movement detected gets a little overwhelming on a regular basis. Clearing out the notifications is a bit irritating since in order to clear them all I have to clear through two different types of notifications, the “all” and the “motion.” However, as points of less enthusiasm go, this is more of an annoyance than “a thing to really complain about.”

I can also admit that the Pivot is sort of fun. I like that I can see what my kid has been up to on the mornings he’s awake before we are. I’ve enjoyed using the microphone/speaker function. My kitchen area is around a corner and a room away from the living room. So, sound doesn’t travel well when rounding up the troops for dinner. Being able to scream through a microphone and speaker that reaches all parts of the house is much better. In fact, I know that they’ll hear me which takes a lot of my angsty annoyance out of things. And, in all honesty, the speaker holds up pretty well compared to my Sonos. The sound quality isn’t quite as deep and full, but if I didn’t already have the Sonos, the Pivot would make a nice speaker for the room. With the cheapest Sonos being $200, the Pivot’s price point of anywhere between $150-200 makes it competitive given its multifunctional use.

For our minimal needs, the Pivot is perfect. We can monitor the kid and dog if they’re moving through the house when they shouldn’t be. We can keep an eye on the front door to the house and the main room that an intruder would have to travel through if they chose to come into the house. We can play music at a pretty decent quality. I don’t have to leave the kitchen in order to call the rest of the family into dinner (and no one can argue they didn’t hear me!). Overall, for the price point, multifunctional uses, and our needs, the Pivot is a pretty cool option.