As one of the more popular smarthome hubs, it makes sense that Wink recently got involved with home security by introducing its $199 Wink Lookout bundle aimed at first-time buyers. The bundle includes a siren, some sensors and a Wink hub.
Even those of us — like me — who already have a Wink hub can add some of the individual security components of Lookout, which are available separately.
This two-pronged strategy is a smart play by Wink but the question is: How well does Wink Lookout work? That’s a trickier question to answer because it depends on how you expect a self-monitoring home security system to behave. More on that later.
A modular system that includes a smart home hub
So what do you get for $199 in the Wink Lookout package? There’s a standard Wink Hub 2, a pair of Z-Wave door/window sensors, one Z-Wave motion sensor and one Z-Wave siren/chime module. All of these can be attached walls, doors and windows with included screws, or can be mounted with double-sided tape, also included. Additional motion sensors or siren/chime units are $39 each while another door/window sensor costs $29, so you can build out your system as needed.
I love the design of the motion sensor. I call it the eyeball because that’s what it looks like, and it blinks a pleasing blue when it sees movement in its 110-degree field of view. The sensor attaches magnetically to its rounded base plate so you can easily adjust the angle. And there’s also a flat spot on the sensor back so you can stand it on the floor, a shelf or table if you’d like. In the Wink app, you have five different sensitivity settings for the motion sensor; helpful if you have pets.
The siren/chime module also looks nice but how it sounds is more important. There are three volume levels for both the siren and the chime function and you can choose from 10 different siren alert sounds. I found that automating the chime with a Wink Robot is useful: Play a pleasant sound when someone opens the front door or garage for example. The siren is really meant for a different purpose, but again, more on that in a minute. At the highest volume level though, you don’t want to be standing next to it.
Installation for the base products was generally easy although I used my own Wink Hub 2 to set things up. I did have a few struggles pairing the motion sensor and siren/chime until I remembered that I typically have to get very close to my hub when pairing Z-Wave devices. Once I did that, the pairing was successful. For folks without a Wink Hub, the products come pre-paired so you don’t have to go through this step, which is a nice touch.
Note that other supported Wink products can feed into Lookout as well: I was able to add my Nest Camera for motion detection as well as my Z-Wave front door lock to the Lookout system.
This is a huge benefit for those with existing smart home products, although I’d caution you before using a webcam, as any detected movement will set the system off: Again, a challenge if you have pets.
A modern twist on home security
Once I had everything paired and connected, I started to scratch my head a little. Wink says that Lookout provides actionable alerts and control. And it pretty much does exactly that because there’s no traditional arm/disarm feature. Instead, in the Wink app, there’s an Alerts On or Alerts Off button. That doesn’t stop the sensors from monitoring, it simply stops sending you notifications from them.
The idea here is that whenever Lookout detects motion or sees that a door or window is open, it will send a notification to your phone. Tap the notification and your phone will open the Wink app where you can choose to dismiss the alert or take action. If you choose the latter, you get another in-app screen with three options: Turn siren on, Call someone in your contacts list or Call 911. Essentially Lookout works as advertised in this regard.
Is that how you want your home security system to work though? There’s no right answer here and for some folks, particularly those that live alone, Lookout should be a perfect fit. I’m not so sure about how it fits me, however.
Your smartphone is the control panel
Since the entire system is smartphone based, I’d need to add my wife, son and daughter as users to my Wink account. That’s not difficult to do, and I probably should have done so a while ago. But I also have to convince my family to then install the Wink app and use it as the “security control panel” for the house.
They’re not likely going to do that: It’s taken me two years just to get them to use the multiple Amazon Echo devices in the house to turn lights on and off. In fact, because they use voice control for the lights, they’re less likely to use the Wink app for the same feature. But if they don’t use the Wink app, how will they know when the Lookout Alerts are on or off?
A perfect example is me going to bed and turning Alerts On. My son often works late shifts nearby and sometimes he drives back to his mom’s house after work. Occasionally, he drives to my house because it’s closer and he’s tired. I can easily envision the entire house woken up by the Siren when he comes in at 1am. Of course, you don’t have automate the Siren like I did in my testing. You can simply be woken by the Alert notification and decide what to do next.
Unfortunately — and maybe it’s just me, although I doubt it — I turn my phone’s Do Not Disturb (DND) function on before going to sleep. And that means I won’t get the alert if my son, or a random stranger, comes in. I suspect most people in that regard are like me, either manually enabling DND or scheduling it during sleep hours: The time you most want your home monitored for any break-ins.
The system works, but will it work the way you want it to?
Again, Wink Lookout works as advertised and it’s very possible that my use case is uniquely different than most other peoples. However, I think there’s a missing piece here for a more appealing product: Some type of connected keypad with a 10 second delay so you can get in the house and disarm the system, or even an NFC swipe tag and reader to accomplish the same thing.
Regardless of my own home, if you’re looking for an inexpensive smart home security system that provides you with total actionable control, Wink Lookout is worth the look. There’s no monthly service fee and the sensors work well at detecting motion and creating notification alerts. And there’s the added bonus of being able to build out your smarthome system with all of the other Wink-supported products, so in some regards, this is a nice two-for-one kit.