Frontpoint vs. Vivint vs. Digital LifeBy - 07/16/2018
Frontpoint, Digital Life, and Vivint are three very different companies, but they all provide professionally monitored home security systems.
Frontpoint is self-installed and wireless. Vivint is professionally installed with a heavy emphasis on home automation. Both Vivint and Frontpoint are cellular systems. Digital Life requires high-speed internet and ties nicely into AT&T’s other offers. Like Vivint, it requires professional installation. Beyond that, there are several other differences, starting with pricing.
|Landline, Cellular, Broadband Monitoring||Cellular w/ Broadband Backup||Cellular||Broadband w/ Cellular Backup|
|Equipment Warranty||Limited Lifetime||Limited Lifetime||Limited Lifetime|
|Minimum Contract Term||12 Months||Month-to-Month||24 Months|
|Monthly Rate Locked In for the Term?|
|Entry-Level Equipment Fee||$99||$549.99 or Monthly Payments||$349.99|
|Control Panel Has Battery Back-Up?|
|Touchscreen Control Panel||Upgrade|
|Move for Free?|
|Return Period||30 Days Risk Free||3 Days||14 Days|
|Possible Insurance Discount|
|Service Area||US, Canada||US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand.||Limited US Coverage|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Entry Level Pricing Compared
Frontpoint’s entry-level monitoring package is called the Protection Plan. It costs $34.99 per month and covers 24/7 professional monitoring. The equipment fee is not included in the plan.
In regards to equipment, you will need to purchase it separately. You can preview their equipment offerings online or give them a call to talk through the options 855-951-7980. Frontpoint offers discounts on equipment in the form of packages, but to qualify for the discount, you will need to sign a 3-year agreement.
All Frontpoint systems support cellular monitoring. This form of monitoring doesn’t require a landline connection. The control panels communicate with the monitoring center using a cellular signal, similar to what your phone uses to send texts or place calls. The advantage of cellular monitoring is the lack of wires. One of the oldest tricks burglars use to disconnect a security system is cutting the landline wire. With cellular monitoring, there’s nothing to cut. If cellular should fail, the system does offer broadband backup.
Vivint’s most basic plan is called Smart Home Monitoring. It costs $39.99 per month plus the cost of equipment. You can pay for equipment via a lump sum payment, or you can make monthly payments. Monthly payments start at around $9.17 per month.
This plan gives you access to 24/7 professional monitoring, the Vivint mobile app (remote arm/disarm), event notifications sent to your smartphone through text, email, and push notifications, severe weather alerts (tornado only), lock automation, smart light automation, other smart home services, and Vivint Live. Vivint Live is a feature that allows you to speak with the monitoring center through the control panel. If an alert is triggered, the monitoring center will call the control panel and try to speak with you. If you don’t respond, they will listen to assess the situation. If unusual activity is heard, they will send the police to your house. The police will most likely prioritize your case as it is a verified alarm event.
Vivint doesn’t force an equipment package. Instead, you pick what you want based on need. However, your choice will affect your contract length which can range from 42 months (larger monthly payment) to 60 months (smaller monthly payment). Ideally, you would simply pay for equipment upfront. If you can make a lump sum payment, there is no contract. Instead, you pay month-to-month. Taking the above price as an example, you will probably end up paying around $550.00 as your lump sum. This package might include a touchscreen, a motion sensor, and two door sensors.
AT&T Digital Life
Digital Life’s entry-level offer is called Smart Security. It costs $39.99 per month, but they are offering it for $29.99 per month “due today” if you have other AT&T services. This package gives you 24/7 professional monitoring, and again, equipment is sold separately. The equipment fee for this package starts at $349.99. And one catch, equipment is not necessarily brand new. Digital Life provides AT&T-certified like-new equipment. The devices sold with the Smart Security plan are an indoor siren, keypad, motion sensor, four window sensors, and two recessed contact sensors. Smart Security also gives you access to the Digital Life app, which you can use to control and monitor your security system.
Unlike other security companies, Digital Life requires users to have high-speed internet. Broadband monitoring is generally faster than landline and cellular monitoring. However, like a landline, it is prone to outages.
Mid-Level Plans Compared
Frontpoint’s mid-level plan is the Interactive Plan, and it costs $44.99 per month excluding equipment fees. Interactive includes everything the Protection Plan offers plus access to the Frontpoint app powered by Alarm.com, which is available for Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry devices. It is also compatible with Pebble smartwatches, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Amazon Kindle Fire. Using the app, you can arm and disarm your security system from anywhere, create location-based rules (e.g., “Alert me when I leave home without arming my security system.”) and receive email, text, and push alerts. It’s like having an extra control panel built into your smartphone.
The Interactive Plan also gives you an extra security feature: Smash-Proof Protection. This technology lets you and the monitoring center know if your control panel is tampered with in any way. For example, if a burglar tries to smash your panel to prevent it from communicating, you will know about it. Smash-Proof Protection uses a soft signal to let the monitoring center know that the panel is active. If the signal is broken, it creates an active alert, and the monitoring center will contact you immediately.
Vivint doesn’t have a mid-level plan. Their entry-level plan, described above, already includes features that most mid-level plans would offer.
Digital Life’s mid-level package is called Smart Security and Automation. It costs $54.99 per month. It includes an indoor siren, keypad, motion sensor, four window sensors, and two recessed contact sensors. It also includes three additional contact sensors, an outdoor camera, and a keyless door lock for $549.99. The plan supports cameras and lock automation but not temperature automation or moisture detection, both features that are reserved for their most expensive plan.
Complete Home Automation Pricing
Frontpoint’s most advanced security and automation offering is the Ultimate Plan. It costs $49.99 per month. It’s similar to the Interactive Plan, but it further expands into home automation by adding light automation, automated door locks, and thermostat automation. The system also works with Amazon Echo and Google Home to provide voice control. You can, for example, ask Alexa to arm your system in stay mode or turn on/off lights.
Aside from automation, the Ultimate Plan gives you access to security cameras. Frontpoint currently offers three cameras: the SkyBell HD doorbell camera, a fixed indoor camera, and a wireless outdoor camera. With the Ultimate Plan, you can record and store up to 1,000 clips in the cloud. The cameras automatically record clips when they detect motion or when there’s an alarm event. You can also record on-demand. Aside from recording, you can use the smartphone app or your Apple TV to watch a live feed from your cameras.
Vivint’s complete automation plan is called Smart Home Video Monitoring. It costs $49.99 per month. Again, you can start with the basic equipment minimum which is $9.17 per month or a lump sum of $549.99, but this time the fee will include two additional door and window sensors.
Smart Home Video Monitoring, as the name implies, adds security camera access and features including access to Vivint’s own video doorbell.
The most advanced offer from Digital Life is Premium Security and Automation, which costs $64.99 per month. Aside from what Smart Security and Automation offers, it adds support for outdoor smart plugs, in-wall outlet control, and light control plus moisture and ambient temperature detection. The equipment fee raises to $849.99 on this one and includes everything that Smart Security & Automation includes plus three additional contact sensors, a carbon monoxide sensor, glass break sensor, two indoor smart plugs, two temperature and water sensors, and a thermostat.
All three companies offer different equipment.
As discussed above, you will receive a discount from all three companies on your initial equipment purchase.
Beyond that, you will purchase equipment a la carte from each company. Pricing on equipment varies as outlined below.
Support and Sales Features Compared
Frontpoint, Vivint, and Digital Life handle sales differently.
Frontpoint allows you to shop online. If you already know what kind of system and features you want, you can call in and order without pressure. All customers are subject to credit approval. Once they confirm that you’re eligible, your order will be sent to your doorstep. Frontpoint’s equipment is wireless (with the exception of a few products), so you can easily install it on your own. If you’re having trouble installing the system, you can call Frontpoint’s customer support or watch video tutorials on their website.
Vivint requires that you call them and allow one of their representatives to come to your home for a final quote.
Digital Life allows you to order online. However, they do a more complex background check than most. Aside from checking your credit, they will also check if you’re a homeowner and if your house or building is “compatible.” Digital Life only serves residential customers who live in buildings not more than five floors high. You’re also required to have a high-speed internet connection, but it doesn’t have to be AT&T internet.
Another important thing to know is the length of contract and whether or not your security company auto-renews contracts.
Frontpoint’s minimum contract term is 12 months. However, to get their discounted equipment package, you need to sign a 3-year agreement. Once you fulfill the contract term, it will auto-renew monthly until you cancel. Frontpoint requires a 30-day notice.
Vivint’s contract can last for up to 60 months or at least 48 months, but if you pay for equipment upfront, there is no contract. If you want to cancel your subscription at the end of your contract, you can call 1-800-216-5232 x5020 to do so.
Digital Life’s contract length is 2 years. However, any purchase of additional equipment or services at a discounted price resets your contract another two years. If you don’t cancel your contract before it ends, it will auto-renew every month.