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Hands on ... Archos Smart Home

What is it?

A low-budget way to monitor your home.

How will it change my life? I was recently called for jury duty and had several conversations with my fellow potential jurors. Invariably the talk would turn to crime, one woman telling of her experience of a break-in and the torment that has remained with her. Ever since she has suffered from a phobia of intruders - or more specifically a fear of coming back to find criminals hiding in her home.

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In my youth I'd often work the late shift and return to my parents' house well after midnight. Winding down before bed, I would watch a documentary and feast on toast. Without fail a wary voice from the next room would call: "Sean, is that you?" I would often mock my mother for this - after all, what burglar worth his salt would break in and help himself to snacks before attacking the residents?

As it transpires, a solution to unwittingly walking in on criminal action is at hand in the Smart Home from Archos. It comprises an Android tablet and sensors which provide surveillance and alert you to events such as your front door opening.

The package includes two door movement guages, two cameras and two weather sensors which connect wirelessly and feed the information to the tablet, which acts as the hub.

Good points? For such a complex device, set-up was extraordinarily easy, guiding you through everything in minutes. Each sensor is known as an object and linked to rooms which are paired with the tablet via a version of Bluetooth.

You view pictures, video, status of the door movement and weather temperature sensors through the simple interface of the Smart Home app. Alerts are configured and sent via a Google mail account. The functionality and layout of the menus are superb - for example, you can set up an alert to email you shots of your front door as it's opened during working hours on a weekday, a feature I thought was brilliant.

Bad points? The version tested didn't come with infrared movement sensors so the versatility of where you could place the sensors was a bit lacking. You can, however, purchase additional sensors. You also need flat surfaces to place the sensors on due to the surface area of the sticker base. The option to mount the sensors permanently would be a nice addition in future.

Best for … Those looking to monitor what goes on when they're at work.

Avoid if … You'd rather not know what goes on behind closed doors.

Score: 9/10. You could pay 10 times more for a surveillance suite half as good as the Archos Smart Home.

l Smart Home, £199 (archos.com)

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