Wink Lookout Smart Home Security SystemBy - 02/17/2018
In October, Wink launched a self-monitored home security system. I love self-monitored security systems. So why did I wait several months before diving into Wink’s solution? I don’t know. Maybe it’s my lack of faith in will.i.am (an American musician who recently purchased the brand), maybe it’s because I was distracted by Nest Secure and Ring Protect. Maybe it’s that to me, Wink Lookout reads more like a keenly marketed smart home kit rather than a home security system. Biases aside, let’s dig in to determine whether or not Wink deserves a spot on our list of Best Self-Monitored Security Systems.
What is Wink Lookout?
Wink Lookout is a group of sensors paired with Wink’s existing smart home hub. It’s marketed as a self-monitored security system backed by a new section of the Wink app called “Wink Lookout Mobile Dashboard.”
The system is 100% self-monitored which means that there are no monthly fees and no contracts.
Start With An Existing Hub or a Kit
To get started, you will need an existing Wink Hub (v1 or v2), or you can purchase a kit. If you choose to use your existing Wink hub and add sensors a la carte, you will miss out on one minor feature: super easy installation. If you purchase the kit, the hub will ship pre-paired with the sensors. If you purchase sensors a la carte, you will need to pair the sensors on your own. Wink Lookout features three primary sensors:
- Door Window Sensor: monitors doors and windows for open/close movement ($29.00)
- Motion Sensor: monitors for motion, will ignore small pets ($39.00)
- Siren & Chime: will sound a siren if an event is detected or emit a chime sound when doors and windows are opened ($39.00)
The Lookout starter kit, which sells for $199, includes a Wink 2 hub and four battery-powered, wireless, Z-Wave sensors including two door/window sensors, a motion sensor, siren & chime, and cables for installation.
Adding Other Sensors
— Rose Thibodeaux (@Rose_Thibodeaux) August 6, 2017
— Rose Thibodeaux (@Rose_Thibodeaux) August 6, 2017
There’s nothing groundbreaking about the Lookout sensors. They’re pretty straightforward, common security sensors. They also fail to provide comprehensive security protection. Most security systems include additional sensors like glass break sensors, cameras, locks, and garage door sensors. While Wink doesn’t include any of these sensors in their Lookout lineup, that doesn’t mean you can’t add them.
The Wink Hub supports compatible sensors via the “Works With Wink” program. The list includes several well-known security products including Nest Cam, Nest Protect, Ring Video Doorbells, Yale Assure Locks, Canary, Arlo, and more. If you want to ensure that you buy “Lookout-compatible” devices, Wink suggests that you stick with “Wink-compatible alarms, cameras, doorbells, door/window sensors, garage door devices, smart locks, and motion sensors.”
What happens when you integrate the different devices will depend on the device you choose. A garage door sensor will send open/close alerts, for example. If you integrate a Nest Cam and it detects motion, it will send a snapshot to your Wink App. If you connect your Arlo cameras, you will get an alert when Arlo detects motion, and you can view a video clip via the Lookout section of the Wink app.
Wink Lookout’s Biggest Limitations
From where I sit, Wink has four limitations that make it less than ideal for use as a home security system.
First, though Wink is a security system, it doesn’t work in the traditional sense. You don’t actually arm and disarm the system. Instead, you can turn alerts on and off, kind of like Logi Circle 2. As such, Wink is always monitoring and noting events, even when you don’t want it to.
Let’s break this down another way. The Wink app has a dashboard that is specific to Wink Lookout. The dashboard will show you sensor status and historical activity = awesome. However, every time your door opens or motion is detected, a log is added to your history. There’s nothing to differentiate the door opening because you want it to from the door opening because someone kicked it in = not awesome. As another example, the motion sensor has a blue light that flashes when motion is detected. As it is always monitoring, it will always flash, even when you’re home.
Second, Lookout lacks features like battery and cellular backup.
Third, a security system needs to deliver a clear multiuser experience (unless you live alone) and Wink doesn’t deliver. Yes, Wink supports multiple users, but it isn’t as simple as it is with other systems. With Wink, you share access by device, not by location, not by account. According to Wink,
Yes. You can give access to specific products to other users. You determine who has access and which products others can access. As the master account user, you can add, edit, or remove their access at any time. If you delete a product from your shared account, the other users will lose access to it, but it will not be removed from the master (your) account.
Fourth, Wink puts too much responsibility back on you. I get that it’s a self-monitored system, but Wink has taken self-monitored to a whole other level. Wink Lookout will send alerts for five types of events: Door Locked/Unlocked, Camera/Doorbell Motion Detected, Motion Sensor Motion Detected, Door/Window Opened/Closed, and Garage Door Opened/Closed. For example, if you have alerts on and someone opens your door, you will receive an alert. Swipe to open the alert and you will be provided with three very clear choices.
- Turn On the Siren
- Open Your Contact List So That You Can Call Someone
- Call 9-1-1
That’s right; there’s no automation. The siren won’t automatically sound, the system won’t automatically notify trusted friends and family members, and it won’t auto arm and disarm as you come and go. The good news here is that if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you might be able to work around some of the limitations.
Robots, Shortcuts, and Schedules
First things first, Wink says that you can’t create a Widget or Robot to turn Lookout on or off. You have to turn alerts on and off manually. However, if you’re a more advanced user, you might be able to use Robots, Shortcuts, and Schedules to automate the system, outside of the Lookout section of the Wink app, of course.
For example, you can create a Robot that triggers your chime sound when your door is opened and one that triggers your siren sound when motion is detected. To automate this a step further, you could create a “Welcome Home” Shortcut that says, “When my phone is home, disable my door opened Robot, my motion detected Robot, and turn on my lights.
While users agree that setting up Robots is an easy process, the fact that you have to go through the trouble is troubling. A security system is more likely to be used if it’s automated. Most security system owners don’t take the time to arm and disarm their systems, and most security system owners aren’t going to sit down to map out ways to make their security system effective.
Finally, you can also schedule alerts. For example, you might want your system to only send alerts during your working hours.
Though Wink connects to rule making services like Stringify and IFTTT, I’m not sure if you can create rules specific to Lookout.
Wink’s security system doesn’t offer anything new. Instead, Wink Lookout is another Wink kit with security-focused devices. In fact, I think to call it a security system is a stretch. Instead, I would call it a smart home hub with security-oriented sensors that can send push notifications. And in case it wasn’t already clear, Wink Lookout will not make our list of Best Self-Monitored Security Systems.
If you’re looking for a self-monitored security system and aren’t invested in the Wink platform already, this is not what I would recommend. However, if you’re a Wink user and want an easy way to access notifications for events like “front door opened” or “movement in living room,” Wink Lookout sensors are an economical choice.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Lookout, click to head over to Amazon.