Panasonic’s one box security bundle is designed to keep your home safe, secure and connected to you via smartphone. Chris Haslam gets hands on to see if it has the smarts to keep his home safe.

The Panasonic Home Monitoring & Control Kit, or the KX-HN6012EW, is a simple entry-level smart home bundle consisting of a hub, indoor camera, two door/window sensors and a smart plug for controlling sockets.

With sensors and the camera installed you’ll be able to monitor comings and goings via the free app, be alerted if anyone opens a door or window, record video clips direct to a microSD card in the Hub as well as control one plug socket either via the app, or through creating a recipe such as ‘If the camera senses motion after 8pm, switch on hall light for 10min.’

Panasonic offer a range of alternative sensors to expand the system including outdoor camera, indoor siren, motion detector, water leak detector, as well as extra window/door sensors, indoor cameras with prices from £24.99 – £99. There is also a range of other kits from the most basic at £129.99 to a complete set-up for £379.99.

Panasonic KX-HN6012EW Kit cut out

Panasonic Home Monitoring & Control Kit: Setup

Looking similar in style to the Samsung SmartThings the Panasonic Smart Home kit relies on DECT – the technology used in digital cordless phones – rather than Wi-Fi, to create a home network. This makes it virtually unhackable, have a 300m range and it won’t cause any extra stress to your home Wi-Fi performance, but be warned, as a closed system, you won’t be able to connect third party devices – like Nest or Canary – to the Panasonic hub.

The DECT technology also makes the kit extremely simple to install. Once the hub has been plugged in and linked to your home’s Wi-Fi (for app control and remote monitoring) and the app downloaded to your smartphone (iOS, Android) it will prompt you to press the hub’s Wi-Fi connector button and pair it with your device. The hub then automatically detects the camera, smart plug and sensors – once they’re plugged in, or have batteries fitted – and you’re ready to go.

Where you position the kit will depend on the size and shape of your home or office, and while the starter kit doesn’t have enough sensors or cameras to monitor ever inch of your home it is easily expandable. We positioned sensors on the front and back door with the camera in the living room and the plug socket on the landing.

Panasonic positioning

Panasonic Smart Home at work

Smart Home Hub KX-HNB600EW (£99.99)

The heart of the system is refreshingly easy to connect to your smartphone and automatically senses the other components of the Smart Home family. It can handle up to eight user’s smartphones, four cameras, six landline handsets and up to 50 compatible devices.

It’s a good looking box that doesn’t need plugging into your router which means you can locate it just about anywhere with a plug. In our tests the signal strength, although rated at 300m, was hampered by internal walls, so a location in the centre of the house is sensible. Keep it hidden though, because once unplugged the system fails.

Panasonic Smart home hub lifestyle low res

Panasonic Smart home hub

Smart Home Indoor Camera KX-HNC200EW (£79.99)

Mounted on a wall, or propped up on a shelf the indoor camera enables you to keep an eye on your home via smartphone. It has motion, sound and temperature sensors built-in, each of which can send alerts if conditions change. There’s also microphone and speakers so you can eaves drop, plus two-way chat via the app which can spook the dog or, combined with the lullaby option, help soothe a baby.

In practice it works well, although it is worth tweaking the sensor sensitivity if you record while people are at home or you will be bombarded with countless alerts. Video clips can be saved directly to a microSD card (8 GB card gives 60 hours) on the hub which is a bonus as many smart home devices charge a monthly fee for the privilege.

Panasonic smart hub Image quality isn't great

Image quality isn’t great

Sadly, image quality is average compared to the vast majority of other webcams available. It records at just 6fps (frames per second) at 640 x 480 (VGA) pixels which is far from high definition. It isn’t a disaster and images are clear if the action is close up, but you may find everything a bit blurred in low light conditions. Fine if you’re using it as a baby monitor, not so if it is your frontline against burglars!

Smart Home Plug KX-HNA101EW (£39.99)

Smart plugs offer remote control to whatever device you plug into it, and the Smart Home Plug does a fine job if you want to turn things on and off via your smartphone. Hardly groundbreaking, but useful if you (or the kids) are forever leaving lights on, but it’s in conjunction with the sensors that the plug becomes a useful security tool.

Using the app to create Scenarios – much like recipes on IFTTT – you can turn sockets on and off at set times of day or when something happens. Having a light turn on when the camera senses movement at night, or the door/window sensor is tripped is a welcome security feature. This would be especially practical if you add the outdoor camera to the system.

Panasonic plug and hub lifestyle

Panasonic plug and hub in action

Smart Home Window/Door Sensor KX-HNS101EW (£24.99)

The first thing you’ll notice is just how big the sensors are. They’re huge compared to others we’ve seen, and if you have narrow door or window frames you may struggle to position them discretely. Admittedly, discretion may not be a priority for security gadgets and the oversized plastic design could be a clever deterrent…

In practice they work just as they should, alerting the hub when they’re opened. If you’ve armed the system using the app and the door/window sensor is tripped an alarm on the Hub will sound. We can’t call it a siren and you certainly won’t hear it out the house, but it’s loud enough to let you know you’ve left the back door open as you’re leaving.

Panasonic window sensor

Panasonic window sensor

Panasonic SmartHome app (£Free, iOS, Android)

While not the most stylish design we’ve ever used the Smart Home App is clear and easy to navigate with large easy to read icons that will suit all age groups.

Managing your sensors is simply a case of clicking on the logo to open up sub folders with various customizable options including how sensitive the camera is, and how often you receive alerts. As for security you have three options – Disarm; Arm: Away; and Arm: At Home – clearly located at the top of the app.

When armed, the hub activates the the camera’s motion sensor and window/door sensors. The sensors track motion and sound and the camera begins recording when anything unusual is detected.

The no-frills approach to the app’s design is refreshing and chimes well with the rest of the system. Panasonic haven’t designed the Smart Home system to be showy, just useful and easy to use whether you’re tech savvy or not.

Panasonic - setting up a scenario app grab

Panasonic – setting up a scenario

Panasonic Smart Home security

As a standalone security system the Panasonic KX-HN6012EW kit doesn’t have enough components to cover even a modestly sized house, so you will need to expand the system with more sensors, a siren and cameras. But as a starting point its an extremely simple home monitoring system that’s quick to set up and manage via the app.

The benefit of using closed loop DECT technology instead of relying on Wi-Fi will please anyone concerned about online security, while being able to record direct to a microSD means the user has complete control over the entire system. There’s also no additional subscription charges which can only be a good thing.

It’s a shame, being a closed loop system, that you won’t be able to connect any existing smart home kit to Panasonic Smart Home. Samsung’s SmartThings on the other hand works with a wide range of different third party accessories including Philips Hue lighting and Yale locks.

Arming the system

Arming the system

Living with Panasonic Smart Home – is it any good?

Kate Young installed and used Panasonic’s Smart Home over several weeks – here’s her thoughts.

  • Name: Kate Young
  • Occupation: Teacher
  • Lives: Bristol

What’s it like to install?

“Really simple, I was up and running with it in less than half an hour, and that included sticking the door sensors in place and messing about with camera angles. I liked the fact the Hub discovered the components automatically.”

How did it integrate with your other smart technology?

“I’ve got a Nest thermostat so was a little annoyed they weren’t compatible, but I liked the fact it didn’t drain my Wi-Fi signal.”

What was it like to live with?

“Keeping tabs on the dog while I’m at work is fun, and I really appreciate being told when I’ve left the back door open. It’s also nice to have control over a socket [lamp] so I can turn it on when coming home alone, but I think I might need to invest in the outdoor camera and siren to make it feel like a proper security system.”

What impressed you most?

“The simplicity. I’ve played with quite a few smart home gadgets and this is the only one I could see my Mum getting to grips with.”