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Plus, you have flexibility in where you place various devices because Z Wave can communicate farther distances than other protocols — like Wi Fi, for example — since it functions by sharing an Internet connection between devices as opposed to a localized router. Ultimately, we wanted systems that could integrate seamlessly into our homes and improve our quality of life. To find which fit the bill, we spent a day outfitting a 1,900 square foot home with the equipment of our finalists. We appraised the installation process, the ease and clarity of registering and syncing, the app experience, and functionality. We were pleased to find we could get most systems up in less than half an hour, but the quality of both hardware and software differed. We docked points for flimsy or easy to knock over physical elements and slow or dysfunctional cyber ones.

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Once you do, the keypad will walk you through the naming process. You no longer need to consult the user manual for setup instructions. Up to four SimpliCams will work with the system though the company promises support for an unlimited number of cameras in the near future. Setup is easy and consists of entering your wireless network details and scanning a QR code in the app. Unlike with the system itself, Wi Fi is required for the cameras to work. The camera is a plain looking black plastic rectangle—which contains a round lens, privacy shutter, microphone, and LED indicator—that slides onto a black metal stand.