abode Essentials Starter Kit vs. abode iota Review

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When it comes to disrupting the traditional home security industry, abode takes the cake. Founded in 2014 by a former ADT executive, the company gives it’s customers more options than I’ve seen from any other smart security company, with options for self-monitoring, 24/7 professional monitoring, on-demand professional monitoring, DIY installation, professional installation— the list goes on.

Basically, if you want to be in total control of your home’s security, abode is a great place to start. But which of their security packages should you choose, the original Essentials Starter Kit or their latest, the iota? Let’s find out together in this abode security review.

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abode
abode

With integrations with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri, and many other smart home products, abode home security would be a great choice of a smart security system. 

Key Similarities of abode Essentials Starter Kit vs. abode iota

Now, as these systems come from the same company, there’s going to be a lot of similarities like:

  • Customer support: Since both systems come from the same company, you’ll contact the exact same customer support team if you need help.
  • App: You’ll use the abode app to control both systems.
  • Monitoring: In the same vein, your monitoring options will be the exact same with either system.

Key Differences of abode Essentials Starter Kit vs. abode iota

Their differences are what’s most going to influence your buying decision:

  • System components: Although both systems include a key fob and mini door/ window sensor, they do differ a bit when it comes to their cameras in particular.
  • Equipment costs: With fewer components, the iota package costs $92 less than the Essentials Starter Kit.
  • Amazon ratings: The iota has higher ratings than the Essentials Starter Kit on Amazon, a 4.7 compared to a 4.3.

abode Essentials Starter Kit vs. abode iota System Components

abode Essentials Starter Kit vs. abode iota System Components
abode Essentials Starter Kit vs. abode iota System Components

Let’s see how these systems differ in terms of components. As you can see, both have Mini Door/ Window Sensors and Key Fobs, along with smart platform integrations with: 

However, the abode Cam doesn’t have these integrations, a major drawback of the Starter Kit.

abode Essentials Starter Kit System Components

abode-camera-review
abode Camera

The Essentials Starter Kit includes a Gateway, which is essentially a base station, a Mini Door/ Window Sensor which can tell when doors or windows have been opened or closed, a regular motion sensor, and a key fob. I also threw in the abode Cam.

abode iota System Components

abode-iota-review
abode iota System Components

The abode iota system is more minimal with only the iota, which is a camera, base station and motion detector built into one, a key fob, and a Mini Door/ Window Sensor.

abode Cam vs. abode iota

Now, one of the most important elements of a home security system is the camera, so let’s take a closer look at how these cameras compare.

Video

abodeCam vs. abode iota Video Display
abode Cam vs. abode iota Video Display

In terms of video, the abode Cam and the iota both have the industry standard of 1080p HD. Unfortunately, neither camera lets you zoom in optically or digitally at all, but with either, you’ll get a wide field of view— 127 degrees with the iota, and 152 degrees with the abode Cam, significantly more.

Audio

Both cameras have two-way audio, allowing you to speak to whoever the camera’s on. This can come in handy if you have an intrusion, or if you just want to easily communicate with someone remotely.

Night Vision

abodeCam vs. abode iota Night Vision
abodeCam vs. abode iota Night Vision

The night vision is comparable on both cameras, as you can see; either gives you infrared and relatively clear night vision.

Storage

Cloud Storage vs. Local Storage
Cloud Storage vs. Local Storage

With both cameras, you will get local storage through a micro-SD card as well as three days of cloud storage on the house. Sold in a bundle with other features that I’ll detail below, you can choose from 14 or 90 days of cloud storage, if you want more. 14 days will cost you $3.33 a month or $40 a year, while 90 days will cost $8.33 a month or $100 a year. However, that’s not all you get so hold your judgments until I tell you more about the abode plans.

Smart Platform Integrations

When it comes to smart platform integrations, only the abode iota has all those great partnerships that I detailed above. The abode Cam, on the other hand, doesn’t work with any voice assistants or connected devices, which might explain the majority of the $150 price difference.

Artificial Intelligence

Person Detection
Person Detection

Finally, neither the iota nor the abode Cam has person detection, so you may receive some unnecessary notifications from movement of any kind.

Installing abode Essentials Starter Kit vs. abode iota

When it comes to installing your abode security system, you can do it yourself or buy professional installation through HelloTech, starting at $99. However, I did the DIY route, and here are my experiences.

Installing abode Essentials Starter Kit 

abode-security-system-review
abode Motion Sensor

To install the Starter Kit, first download the abode app, which will give you step-by-step instructions. You’ll get an activation code from the Gateway, then plug it into it’s power adapter and ethernet adapter. Next, stick the motion and entry sensors on your doors and windows, and then install the camera (I prefer the web app for this). Finally, plug in your ethernet adapter, add your camera to your Wi-Fi and the system is set up.

Installing abode iota 

abode-iota-security-system-review
abode iota SD Slot

With fewer components, iota was easier to install than the Starter Kit, taking about 15 minutes from start to finish. First, place the iota near your router and outlet and plug it in. Make sure you plug it in via an ethernet cable and shift the tab on the bottom to activate the battery backup. Then, the abode app will walk you through the rest of the process, which includes entering an activation code, sticking on the door/ window sensor on the door frame, and naming each device.

Top System Installation

Fewer components means a more simple setup, so iota for the win!

Professional Monitoring with abode 

Professional Monitoring
Professional Monitoring

Since we’re dealing with the same company, your professional monitoring options will be the exact same with either system. Now, what is professional monitoring, exactly? It means that, if any of your alarms go off and you don’t respond to the notification, a team of professional monitors (real people!) will check in on your live streams and verify an emergency. If one is taking place, they can contact the police for you, or the fire department or local hospital, if needed. I recommend getting 24/7 professional monitoring with all systems, but with abode, you have some really flexible options.

abode Monitoring Options

abode Monitoring and Storage Options
abode Monitoring and Storage Options

24/7 professional monitoring will cost either $8.33 a month or $100 a year, which is really reasonable. If you want professional monitoring sometimes, you can buy it on-demand with either the Connect Plan or the Basic Plan. Three days will cost you $8, while a week will cost $15. I haven’t seen on-demand professional monitoring from any other system, so that’s a really cool feature of abode.

No matter what plan you get, you’ll be able to self-monitor through the abode app as much as you want, as well as connect up to 160 local devices, create up to 100 home automations, access your IFTTT channel and add unlimited user accounts.

Cellular Backup
Cellular Backup

But only the paid plans get you cellular backup, which will keep your system on in the event of a power outage.

abode Contracts

Another good thing about abode is that they offer monthly or yearly options. I actually recommend doing monthly, as there is only $0.04 of savings with the yearly plan and I’m a fan of flexibility.

abode Moving Policies

Since abode offers DIY installation, there’s no moving fee, unless you want to get professional installation from HelloTech again!

Top System for Monitoring

Obviously, I have to call a tie in terms of monitoring, as your options are exactly the same.

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With integrations with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri, and many other smart home products, abode home security would be a great choice of a smart security system. 

abode Customer Support 

Again, customer support with abode will be the same with the Essentials Starter Kit and the iota. There’s an online support center, plus you can get help over the phone and email. In my experience and the customer reviews I’ve read online, abode has pretty good customer support.

Top System for Customer Support

Another obvious tie!

The abode App

The abode App
The abode App

Finally, you’ll use the abode app with either system to livestream footage, receive notifications, control connected devices, and more. Currently, the app has a 3.5 on the Google Play store and a 3.2 on the Apple store, which is a bit lower than the last time I checked. One Android-user named Nathan Jones summed it up nicely in a recent two-star review,

“Was loving it but the new update takes away core functionality. Quick actions were the most important piece of the app and now they are hidden/removed. They want you to use the cue automations page instead but the interface isn’t convenient (can’t customize page ordering, very small “play” button, etc.).”

Recap of abode Essentials Starter Kit vs. abode iota

Overall, I’d go with the iota over the Starter Kit. It’s cheaper, has fewer components and installation plus, it’s camera is more easily integrated into your larger smart home. Let me break it down who I think each would be good for, though, if you’re looking for something specific.

Pick the abode Essentials Starter Kit if you’d like…

  • Wider field of view: For 25 more degrees of visibility, go with the abode Cam over the iota.
  • Lower camera price: You’ll also benefit from the $150 price tag between the abode Cam and the iota.

Pick abode iota if you’d like…

  • Lower price overall: By combining the gateway, motion detector and the camera into one component, iota comes out cheaper overall by about $92.
  • Fewer components: Not a fan of clutter? Go with the streamlined iota over the Starter Kit, as it has fewer components.
  • Camera with smart platform integrations: Only the iota will work with your voice assistants and other IoT devices.

To learn more about either system, read my review of the abode Essentials Starter Kit or the abode iota. If neither system sounds like the one for you, check out the best home security systems of 2019.

FAQs

What is abode iota?

abode iota is a security kit that includes only a camera, a key fob, and a door and window sensor.

Does abode work without Internet?

You can use abode without Internet if you buy a Connect or Secure plan and get cellular backup.

Does abode work with Ring?

In order for Ring and abode to go together, you’ll need to use IFTTT.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.