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Abode Iota: Best for home security

Don’t be fooled by the lack of gadgets inside the Abode Iota box. This seven-inch tower is jam-packed with features:

  • HD camera
  • Motion sensor
  • 93-decibel siren
  • Two-way audio
  • Person detection (requires $6.00/mo. subscription)

The Iota is one of the most compatible security cameras on the market, integrating with around 160 smart home products. It also has the easiest physical set-up you could ask for: place it on a table and plug it in. 

But the Iota falls short when it comes to video and audio quality. The image often lags and the audio can sound staticky at times. It also has a limited viewing angle, so it might not catch everything that happens in the room.

Excellent choice for renters

The Iota’s all-in-one design makes it perfect for renters. Landlords typically don’t want you to drill holes in the walls or mess up the paint with peel-and-stick devices. The Iota won’t leave a mark . . . except for the stick-on door/window sensor. You’ll have to talk your landlord into that one.  

But the same qualities that make the Iota great for renters also make it somewhat impractical for homes with long entry hallways or expansive layouts. For example, the Iota has to sit on a table or shelf. Do you have a suitable place to put it in full view of your front door? 

With a limited viewing angle of 127° horizontal and 67° vertical, you’ll have to position it so that the camera picks up as much as possible. There also needs to be a plug in the vicinity.

Power source and internet options

The Iota isn’t a wireless system, but it has a backup battery that powers the system for up to five hours. This isn’t a very long time, but it will still offer protection if someone decides to burgle your home during a short power outage. 

Don’t forget to toggle the “on” button on the bottom of the Iota to make sure the battery backup is ready to go.

The Iota also has four internet connectivity options:

  • Ethernet cable (included in the box)
  • 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi
  • 4 GHz Wi-Fi 
  • Cellular back-up (requires Pro Plan subscription)

Most of the smart security cameras we review connect to 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, so the Iota’s more versatile options stand out.

The quality of your internet connection does affect the quality of the video feed and load times, but a good camera should still function like a good camera. So far, we’re not super impressed with the quality of the Iota. 

The picture looks clear, and since it’s supposed to be full 1080p HD, we’d expect nothing less. It also looks good in night vision mode thanks to an integrated infrared LED light. 

But the lag makes us squirm. It’s choppy, it’s uncomfortable, and it shouldn’t be happening in 2021.

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Three video quality settings

Abode offers high, medium, and low bandwidth settings to help improve streaming quality. Learn more on their website.

There’s also no way to zoom in when checking in on the live feed. The manufacturers might have chosen to leave this feature off because Iota is meant to be used inside in close quarters. Still, it’s a useful and, frankly, expected feature.

Two video storage options

The Iota will record and save clips any time motion is detected. If you pay for Abode’s Standard plan or Pro plan, the clips are saved to the cloud and can be viewed on the Abode app. Clips are automatically deleted after seven days with the Standard plan and 30 days with the Pro plan.

If you don’t subscribe to a plan, the clips are saved to an SD card (not included). You’ll need to remove the SD card and manually upload the clips to a separate device in order to view them. 

We appreciate this flexibility, but free cloud storage would be even better. 

Iota is compatible with pretty much everything

The Abode Iota really blows the competition out of the water in terms of smart home compatibility and integrations. You can connect up to 160 devices to the Iota, so there’s a good chance you already have compatible devices in your home or that you’ll easily find what you’re looking for when you’re ready to shop. 

Check out our overview of Abode-compatible products for more information.


Subscription required for automations

Iota-compatible devices can be included in home automations, but you’ll need at least the Standard plan to set them up.

Abode Outdoor Smart Cam: Best for automatic doorbell

Best for automatic doorbell

Although you’d never guess by its name, the Abode Outdoor Smart Cam happens to be one of the smartest doorbell cameras we’ve ever seen. It’s not exclusively designed for this purpose since there isn’t a button for visitors to push. But if you wire it to your doorbell chimes, this innovative little camera automatically rings them whenever it senses someone on your doorstep. 

We think this is the perfect solution for people who want a smart doorbell but aren’t in the habit of using their smartphones for every little thing. The doorbell chime gives you an instant alert whether your phone is on or not. Leaving the house for a bit? You can use the app to see what’s happening while you’re gone.

Thanks to person-detection technology, you won’t get false alarms from visiting critters or falling leaves. But if your delivery driver never bothers to ring the doorbell when delivering packages, this camera will let you know it’s time to go to the door.


The catch

You have to subscribe to either the Standard plan or Pro plan to activate the video doorbell features: 

  • Person detection
  • Push notifications
  • Automations
  • Video clip storage

No quiet mode in the Abode outdoor smart camera

We’re pretty excited about the motion-activated chime feature, but Abode overlooked one option that would otherwise make the Outdoor Smart Cam a hot contender for Coolest Smart Doorbell Ever: quiet mode. 

Don’t want those chimes to sound? Too bad. They’re gonna. 

Quiet mode might be non-negotiable if you have a baby in the house, work night shift, get sound-sensitive migraines, or have any other reason to need nothing but quiet for a few hours.

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Quiet doorbells

If no quiet mode is a dealbreaker, check out these video doorbells instead:

Otherwise, the Outdoor Smart Cam acts as a nifty security camera + “siren” (which, in this case, is a doorbell chime). You’ll know someone’s poking around the front door, day or night, thanks to this security cam.

The Outdoor Smart Cam isn’t intended to be just a video doorbell. It works indoors and outdoors and tolerates temperatures up to 130° F, so it should be okay to mount in a sunny location in most climates. (Incidentally, full sun will also give the best video image quality.)

We’re also impressed by the Outdoor Smart Cam’s 152° field of view. It only takes about a 130° lens angle to make us sit up and pay attention, so you can only imagine how our eyes bugged out at this one. Wide-angle lenses do run the risk of displaying distorted images that look like a panorama gone wrong, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Abode Outdoor Smart Cam.

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