AT&T Digital Life ReviewBy - 04/15/2016
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
AT&T Digital Life Equipment & Protection
AT&T Digital Life‘s home security offer is fairly straight forward. They use a base station designed by Cisco with 24-hour battery backup, and UL listed monitoring. The station monitors for emergencies like burglaries and fire. Beyond that, the services you receive will depend on upon the package you choose.
Before we get started, there are a few things you should know.
First of all, Digital Life isn’t nationwide. Before spending your time reading reviews, you should check to make sure service is available in your area.
Second, the service is for residential customers only. They define residential per zoning, and they only cover buildings that are five floors or less.
Third, unlike other security companies, high-speed internet is required. Though they offer cellular backup, this is not a cellular security system.
Finally, they require a 2-year agreement.
If that’s all agreeable to you, we should move on. Your first step with Digital Life will be selecting a plan, and they have three options.
Digital Life Monitoring Options Compared
Digital Life’s packages include both service and equipment.
Their entry level plan, Smart Security, is $39.99 per month and includes several hundred dollars worth of free equipment. But, there is another gotcha. The equipment doesn’t necessarily have to be new. If you dig into the terms and conditions, you will notice that they reserve the right to provide “like new equipment”. This helps keep the cost low and it’s one of the reasons why they can offer so equipment much upfront.
With Smart Security, you will receive 24/7 professional monitoring. You will also receive an indoor siren, keypad, motion sensor, 4 window sensors, and 2 contact sensors. If you don’t know the difference between the different sensor types, you are not alone; we’ll definitely break that down soon.
Their second level package, Smart Security and Automation, is $54.99 per month and includes a touchscreen panel. The panel is equipped to communicate and control your entire system, both security and automation. The panel communicates using Z-Wave, which is a popular smart home protocol. It also uses Wi-Fi and 3G cellular to keep your home safe. From an equipment perspective, this package includes a little more. It includes 1 indoor siren, 1 motion sensor, 1 keypad, 7 window sensors, 2 contact sensors, 1 outdoor camera, and 1 door lock pushbutton in nickel (we will get more into this later).
Finally, the Premium Security and Automation plan includes everything from the Smart Security and Automation plan plus more smart equipment, as the plan adds the ability to manage your home’s temperature as well as detect moisture and ambient temperature. Currently, this package also adds 1 CO sensor, 1 glass break sensor, 1 smoke sensor, 3 additional window sensors, 1 thermostat, 2 indoor smart plugs, and 2 temperature and water sensors. Fair warning, what home security equipment Digital Life includes changes frequently.
AT&T Digital Life vs Frontpoint Security
|Package||Ultimate||Premium Security and Automation|
|Per Month Pricing||$49.99||$64.99|
|High-Speed Internet Required|
|Free Professional Installation||Self-Installed||YES|
|Text and Email Alerts|
|Remote Lock or Unlock Doors|
|Manage Temperature and Small Appliances|
|Detect Moisture and Ambient Temperature|
|Equipment Used or New||New||May be used.|
|Indoor Siren||Included in Panel|
|Pushbutton Door Lock||0||1|
|Touchscreen Control Panel||0||1|
|Carbon Monoxide Sensor||0||1|
|Glass Break Sensor||1||1|
|Indoor Smart Plugs||0||2|
|Temperature and Water Sensor||0||2|
|Return Period||30 days||14 Days Less Restocking Fee|
|Our Review||Frontpoint Security Review|
|Learn More||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Digital Life Equipment Specifics
The equipment included with each plan is technically free, though there is always an amount due at signing. This amount will depend on your personal credit, what equipment you choose, and current specials. I’ve seen the Security and Automation “due today” amount range from $0.99 – $199.99. And while the packages may dictate equipment to an extent, you can certainly pay to add more equipment as needed.
You can purchase and add the touch-screen control panel, a keypad, a smoke sensor, a carbon monoxide sensor, or even a glass break sensor. Digital Life sells both a recessed contact sensor and a surface contact sensor. They are both used to protect doors or windows. Recessed is a one-piece device and is typically used for recessed doors. It is installed along the doorjamb and hidden from view. The window sensor is a two-piece device. When the two pieces are no longer touching, like if a door opens, an alert is sent back to your control panel. Other items you can pay to add include:
- Contact Sensor (Discreet Sensor) $49.99
- Window Sensor $29.99
- Smoke Sensor $49.99
- Heat Detector $59.99
- Glass Break Sensor $79.99
- Touchscreen Control $129.99
- Conversion Kit (Reuse Old Wired Equipment) $99.99
- Garage Door Controller
- Door Lock Pushbutton $199.99
- Indoor Smart Plug $39.99
- Light Control (in-wall switch) $159.99
- Outlet Control $159.99
- CO Sensor $59.99
- Keychain Remote $39.99
- Keypad $99.99
- Motion Sensor $79.99
- Indoor Siren $79.99
- Door Lock Touchscreen $199.99
- Outdoor Camera $199.99
- Indoor HD Camera $199.99
- Smart Thermostat $149.99
- Outdoor Smart Plug $39.99
- Light Dimmer Control $179.99
- Temp and Water Sensor $49.99
In addition to working with their own devices, Digital Life works with certain third-party devices, like the FIBARO Flood Sensor (pictured above). The sensor is one of a few flood sensors that can float. It also has a built-in alarm, tilt sensor, telescopic probe (can work on uneven surfaces), and a temperature sensor that will let you know if your home’s temperature rapidly rises or declines. The flood sensor isn’t the only multi-function device in the equipment line-up. For example, the indoor siren can also detect smoke and elevated carbon monoxide levels.
- 24/7 Professional Monitoring
- Professional Installation Required
- Wireless Communication
- Compatible with any high-speed internet provider
Digital Life Home Automation
AT&T Digital Life Home Automation is delivered through Smart Security and Automation as well as Premium Security and Automation. As mentioned above, these plans start at $54.99 per month with a 2-year agreement and money due at signing.
All of Digital Life’s plans include remote access from your smartphone, tablet, or PC. Also, they announced at CES that they are working on a voice assistant that will come in the form of a mobile app for Android and iOS users. The app, which they are planning to launch this year, will let you control your lights, temperature, and other parts of your automated home with your voice. You will also be able to use it monitor your system. For example, you can ask if your system is armed, or if the doors are locked. The app can optionally provide voice feedback.
Smart Services Without the Right Plan
You’ve already learned that certain packages include certain smart services. While you can bundle and save using the monitoring plans, you can add home automation features as needed using their add-on plans.
If you want to expand, you can add standard home automation features like lock automation, light automation, and temperature automation, but you will find that the monthly fee increases for each feature. Most of the features will add $4.99 per month plus the cost of equipment. While Digital Life has all the right pieces, their monthly fee is high compared to other home security companies and adding smart home services a la carte only increases this monthly fee.
|Video Camera Package||Door Package||Energy Package||Water Detection Package|
|Price per Month||$9.99||$4.99||$4.99||$4.99|
|Amount Due at Signing||$9.99||$0.99||$9.99||$0.99|
|Description||Add streaming video. View real-time or saved videos.||Add lock automation. Create unique entry codes for your doors and add the ability to close your garage door from anywhere.||Add the ability to control your lights, thermostat, and small appliances from anywhere.||Adds the ability to detect leaks through the detection of moisture and ambient temperature.|
Home Security Cameras
Digital Life has their own home security cameras. The outdoor camera is weather-resistant, includes day and night vision, and will record video footage based upon events. They also have their own indoor camera, but if you prefer, you can use the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro with your security system. This camera is an indoor only camera and it’s fairly basic. It does stream in FHD 1080p (unless you are on your mobile device, and then it’s 720p) and it has night vision. What really sets it apart from Digital Life’s camera is that it has two-way talk and advanced detection.
The advanced detection feature should reduce false alarms. The feature extends to both motion and audio detection and Samsung claims the camera is smart enough to know the difference between a tree swaying in the wind and a person. Another smart feature aimed at reducing false alarms is motion zone select. With this feature, you can select up to three motion zones. Essentially, you designate areas within the camera’s field of view that you want it to monitor, while it automatically knows to ignore the rest. And for those in the know, this camera does use Wide Dynamic Range. Score!
Third-Party Products Work Too
The Samsung SmartCam HD Pro isn’t the only third-party device that you can use with your Digital Life security system. In addition to the camera, AT&T has partnered with companies such as Lutron and Nest. While Nest isn’t an option yet, it should be soon, and it will add another element to their existing smart home services.
- Full Home Automation
- Video Surveillance
- iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry
- Text & Email Alerts
- Z-Wave Communication
Digital Life Customer Service & Support
AT&T is better than most large companies when it comes to support, but cell phone companies continue to top the list of the most hated companies in America. They do maintain an impressive A+ rating with the BBB, but customer service doesn’t appear to be a priority.
What I like about AT&T support is that they have clearly defined policies and fees. There shouldn’t be any surprises. More than likely this is what contributes to their high BBB score as complaints about the company are usually geared toward contractual misunderstandings. With Digital Life, what you see is what you get.
Keep in mind that with Digital Life you have 14 days to return the system if you find it is not for you. While this isn’t as terrible as ADT’s meager 3 day return period, it isn’t as generous as other companies that offer 30 days. Also, if you do return the system, they will charge a restocking fee up to $99.
Finally, they aren’t as flexible for those who want to upgrade their packages. With other companies, you can upgrade no questions asked. With AT&T, any upgrade will restart the clock on your 2-year agreement. Downgrading your monitoring plan is not an option unless you want to pay an early termination fee. All things to keep in mind before making a decision.
- 24 Month Contract Option – Better than the Traditional 36 Month
- 14 Day Return Period
- Not a Nationwide Provider
- A+ Rating with the BBB
DirectTV, Digital Life, and LifeShield
For several years, we kept a separate review of LifeShield, home security for DirectTV customers. Due to a merger, LifeShield is now Digital Life. An upgrade for those customers? I think so.
When functioning as its own entity, LifeShield provided the option to monitor through a landline, the internet, or via cellular monitoring. For customers that preferred a landline, this may be one of the toughest changes. Digital Life uses broadband with the option for cellular backup. For those without high-speed internet, this might be problematic. For those using a landline, it’s probably time to upgrade anyway, as a wireless system will be more secure.
LifeShield’s monitoring packages started at $39.99 per month, which included professional and interactive home service as well a small equipment package. The package included a base station, a console, a touchpad or a tablet, and two door/window sensors. This isn’t that different from Digital Life’s Smart Security option. The monthly fee is identical, but the equipment package is slightly different. Perhaps the biggest difference is how customers will be treated. And in my opinion, this is where Digital Life is superior to LifeShield.
First of all, LifeShield had a 7-day return policy, and DirectTV is surprisingly not BBB accredited. By contrast, Digital Life has a 14-day return policy and an A+ rating with the BBB. Finally, Digital Life contracts are 24 months; LifeShield contracts were often as long as 60 months.
If you were a LifeShield customer, you should have received a letter in the mail with an offer to swap services for less than a dollar, though some customers have complained that the package is not equivalent to what they had before. If you are researching options and ready to swap to a new security system, check out our top rated systems by clicking below.