iSmartAlarm vs. Fortress — Differences Explained

iSmartAlarm vs. Fortress

There are more options on the market than ever before for keeping your home protected, but how do you sort through the huge selection in order to find an alarm system that works for you? Comparing iSmartAlarm vs. Fortress makes it readily apparent that not all security setups are created equal, with Fortress being the far superior option due to a whole host of features that keep your home better protected.

When breaking down these two systems, it’s clear that iSmartAlarm offers basic protection at an affordable price. However, the lack of features like cellular backup, battery backup, more flexible internection, and 24/7 monitoring make it clear that there are some major shortcomings when it comes to offering comprehensive security.

Below, we go into detail on the differences between iSmartAlarm and Fortress security systems. If there are specific aspects that you’re most interested in, however, feel free to use the navigation bar to jump directly to the appropriate section.

iSmartAlarm vs. Fortress — Differences

  • Difference #1: Internet Connection – One disadvantage of the iSmartAlarm system is the fact that it needs to connect to the router via Ethernet, while Fortress can connect to your network just using WiFi. This might not seem like a big deal, but in practical terms it means that your iSmartAlarm system will have to be in close proximity to the router (unless you want to run ethernet cables across your entire house, of course!) The Fortress allows for much more flexible placement, which means that you can have access to your security system controls from wherever it’s convenient rather than being limited to a small area next to your internet equipment.

  • Difference #2: Hub Battery Backup – In the event that you lost power, it’s important that your security system continues to function to protect your home until you can get everything back up and running. With Fortress, there’s a hub battery backup in place with an impressive amount of power, and it will keep your sensors running far longer than the competition. The S03 model offers power for up to 48 hours, and the S6 has a whopping 72-hour battery life off of the backup.

    iSmartAlarm, on the other hand, is the complete opposite, with no battery backup at all. It’s technically possible to get some sort of battery power with some sort of external system, but that will only last a couple hours — far less than any security system with a built-in battery.

    In the event of an emergency, you want the assurance that your family will continue to be protected, and iSmartAlarm falls far behind Fortress in that regard.

  • Difference #3: Two-Way Audio on a Hub – Fortress also offers some cool convenience features outside of simple security, and one such perk is the two-way audio built into the hub. This isn’t available on all Fortress models, but you’ll be able to communicate with your loved ones while away on both the S3 and S6 systems. The intercom button is located on the main panel keypad, and allows for easy communication across the home.

    It’s not really a feature that’s crucial for home security, but we’re a fan of systems that can play double duty and add convenience as well as protection.

  • Difference #4: Keypad On the Hub – One advantage that iSmartAlarm does have over Fortress is the fact that the main keypad is separate from the hub. With Fortress, your main access to your system is on the main base itself, which makes it vulnerable to intruders. With the main part of your security system so readily available, it’s super easy for criminals to smash it and leave your home vulnerable.

    iSmartAlarm, on the other hand, has the primary keypad separate from the hub which allows you to hide the main system away from heavily trafficked areas for optimal security.

    Technically, you can do the same with Fortress if you invest in additional wireless keypads. However, the fact that you can’t enjoy this flexibility by default without an additional purchase is definitely a bit of a downside.

  • Difference #5: 24/7 Professional Monitoring – Perhaps one of the biggest advantages that Fortress offers over iSmartAlarm is the inclusion of 24/7 professional monitoring. This feature is optional, and is offered via third-party monitoring companies. These systems have been tested with a wide variety of monitoring organizations, so it should be easy to find one that suits your needs. At this point, Fortress doesn’t offer their own professional monitoring, which is a bit of a drawback when compared to other security systems. However, the fact that it is so compatible doesn’t make it that much of a disadvantage in day-to-day usage — it just makes the setup process a little bit more tedious.

    If you don’t decide to take advantage of the professional monitoring, it’s important that you have a “break-in routine” in place so you can take quick action in the event of an emergency. If you’re in the area during a break-in, you should call 911 and notify them immediately. If you’re not in the area, you should always have a police emergency number for the area where your house is. You can get around the lack of professional monitoring by being prepared ahead of time, although it’s definitely a little more convenient to trust the safety of your home to the experts.

    While Fortress doesn’t offer its own monitoring service, they are far better than iSmartAlarm that doesn’t support 24/7 monitoring in any capacity. One of the main reasons a lot of people opt for a security system to protect their home is the assurance that someone will be keeping an eye on their property while they’re at work or on vacation — a feature that isn’t really possible with iSmartAlarm and is relatively easy to access with Fortress.

  • Difference #6: Cellular Backup – Any Fortress system purchased after Summer 2016 should have a Fortress SIM card included. At a rate of $7.99 per month, you’ll have access to cellular backup that will allow you to access your system in the event that WiFi goes down.

    Fortress is also pretty compatible with third-party SIM cards as well if you’d like to purchase cellular service separately, just keep in mind that if you opt for a third-party device you won’t be able to receive support related to cell service from Fortress and will instead have to turn to the manufacturer of that specific card. If you want to check to see whether your preferred SIM card is supported, check the page on their website.

    Unfortunately, iSmartAlarm does not support Cellular backups in any capacity, which leaves you out of luck should your WIFi system go down.

  • Difference #7: Landline Connection – The S3 and S6 Fortress security systems support landline calling, so you can specify multiple numbers that will be called in the event of an alarm. When you or your trusted contacts picks up the call, the system will play a brief message with details about the alarm. During that call, you can also control the system remotely by entering commands over the phone — perfect for stopping the system in the event of a false alarm.

    iSmartAlarm has no such feature.

  • Difference #8: Sensors – Another area where Fortress blows SmartAlarm out of the water is in its support for different sensors.

    iSmartAlarm certainly has the basics covered with motion and entry sensors that will detect movement in a room or entryway. However, Fortress has both of those sensors as well as support for a Gas Leakage Detector, Glass Break Sensor, Water Sensor, Vibration Sensor, and Smoke Alarm.

    All in all, if you’re looking for the most comprehensive coverage for your home, there’s no doubt the Fortress is the superior choice. It’s more expensive than iSmartAlarm, sure, but with that extra expense, you’ll be able to outfit your house with many more safeguards that are more than worst the larger initial investment.

  • Difference #9: Smart Home Integration – One of the areas where both of these systems fall short is in smart home integration. They do a very good job of protecting your home, but they don’t play nice with other smart technology.

    iSmartAlarm is the better of the two with support for Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, but even with the power of IFTTT there’s a limited breadth of compatibility when it comes to other smart devices. You can take a look at the available applets for use with iSmartAlarm to get a sense of the capabilities, but it does fail to live up to the standards that other smart security systems like SimpliSafe and abode have to offer.

    Fortress is even more restricted in its smart home compatibility, with only support for Amazon Alexa built in. This is a drawback in many ways, although there are some benefits to having a security system completely separate from the rest of your home. In the event that your home network is compromised, it’s always nice to know that vulnerabilities in other smart technology won’t render your sensors ineffective.


iSmartAlarm vs. Fortress — Comparison Chart

iSmartAlarmFortress
Hub to Router ConnectionEthernetWireless
Hub Battery BackupNoS03: 48 Hours
S3: Yes
S6: 72 Hours
Two-Way Audio on a HubNoS03: Yes
S1: No
S6: Yes
Hub SirenYesYes
Extra Siren SupportYesYes
Hub SpeakerNoYes
Hub SensorsN/ANo
KeypadYesOn the hub
Multiple Keypads SupportYesYes
Key FobsYesYes
Disarm OptionsApp, key fob, keypadApp, key tag,
remote fob, keypad
24/7 Professional MonitoringNoOptional
Basic SubscriptionFreeFree
Advanced SubscriptionNoNo
Remote Monitoring & NotificationsYes (no subscription required)Yes (no subscription required)
Cellular BackupNoS03: No
S1: Yes
S6: Yes
Landline ConnectionNoS03: Yes
S1: No
S6: Yes
SensorsMotion, EntryMotion, Entry,
Gas Leakage Detector,
Glass Break Sensor,
Water Sensor,
Vibration Sensor,
Smoke Alarm
Remote Panic ButtonYes, on a key fobYes
Security CameraYes, iSmartAlarm iCameraYes
Monthly Contracts Available
Google AssistantNoNo
AlexaYesYes
IFTTTYesNo
Other Smart Home CompatibilityNoNo
TechnologyWiFiWiFi
ColorMostly White,
Black Keypad
White

iSmartAlarm vs. Fortress — Things in Common

iSmartAlarm

  • Remote Monitoring & Notifications – Regardless of your choice in brand, you will enjoy remote monitoring and notifications through smartphone apps for Android or iOS. Better yet, you’ll have access to these features with no additional subscription required. This is actually a significant advantage over a lot of brands that charge a monthly fee for access to remote monitoring, so it’s nice that it’s included by default.

  • Video Monitoring – The primary way that these alarm systems handle home security is through their sophisticated collection of sensors, but both iSmartAlarm and Fortress offer options for video monitoring as well.

    iSmartAlarm offers two different models of cameras: Spot+ and iCamera KEEP Pro.

    Spot+ is the more basic model of the two, but it actually offers an impressive amount of features at an affordable price. It’s a 1080p HD WiFi DIY smart home security camera that supports streaming video and free cloud and MicroSD card recording. Other useful perks include features like On-The-Go mode, multi-camera live view support, 2-way audio, 8x digital zoom, sound recognition, time lapse custom video, night vision, motion detection and more. It’s pretty clear that even the more basic iSmartAlarm model has a huge amount of features to offer.

    The iCamera KEEP Pro is the more advanced model which takes pretty much every features available on the Spot+ and adds in sophisticated motion tracking. That means that should your sensors detect movement, the camera will activate and track the intruder to ensure a crisp, clear video recording that can be helpful for identification through the police. Setup with the iCamera KEEP Pro is also quite easy; all it takes is following along with some simple voice prompts to get your camera up and running in a matter of minutes.

    Fortress offers just one camera: the Fortress Eye Sight WiFi 720p HD Security camera.

    This camera actually pairs with the smartphone app or directly with your sensors rather than the main panel, which is a rather interesting quirk. There’s no limit to the number of cameras that you can pair with the app, which allows you to run wild and put as many monitoring systems up in your home as you please. The app even supports third-party cameras in conjunction with the Fortress security system, but it’s important to keep in mind that the company doesn’t guarantee compatibility with any third-party systems — so buy at your own risk!

    As far as the details go, the Fortress camera has a 720p resolution that records to a MicroSD card (sold separately). It also includes real-time video streaming, night vision, and 2-way audio with a built-in speaker and microphone.

    All in all, it’s pretty clear that the iSmartAlarm’s camera system is a little bit more robust. While you can get a lot of the same features by combining an excellent third-party camera with the Fortress system, the fact remains that the cameras that Fortress produces themselves fall far short of the utility that iSmartAlarm has to offer.

  • Siren – Both alarm systems have a built-in hub siren that will alert you in the event of an intrusion while scaring off intruders, but they also support add-on sirens as well. Having these extra sirens allows you to place your base in a more hidden location and still have alarms placed liberally throughout your home.

    iSmartAlarm has their own Satellite Siren, but Fortress knocks it out of the park with a gigantic variety of add-on sirens available. There’s the Outdoor/Indoor Siren which, as the name suggests, will fit in perfectly both inside or out. The Outdoor Wireless Flashing Strobe Siren will provide alerts to your neighbors that there’s an invasion in the process, and the Plug-In strobe siren will give flashing light alerts inside as well. Last but not least is the Solar Siren that you can place strategically outside, allowing the sun to charge it and giving a lot more flexibility in placement since you won’t be tied to a plug.

  • Multiple Keypads Support – Both systems come with a keypad for control by default, but you can also expand the system with support for multiple wireless keypads. Simply install one on each floor, or even near each exterior entrance in order to ensure that you have easy access to the settings of your security system from wherever you happen to be.

    With iSmartAlarm, you can easily attach the pad to your wall using the magnetic back and mounting plate, and can use it to arm, disarm, set the system to Home, or even trigger the panic siren to notify neighbors and those within your network of danger or medical emergencies. When you trigger the panic button on the panel, everyone in your network will receive push notifications that something is wrong. You can also use the keypad to easily allow household staff and visitors into your home, and having them easy to access at each entrance ensures that trusted guests walking into your home will be able to disable the system at will. You can also limit user access to specific days, dates, or times as well, which is perfect for giving a housekeeper or dog walker access at specific points during the week.

    The RFID pad with Fortress is a secondary keypad that you can use to easily arm or disarm your security system. The RFID system allows you to disarm the system just by swiping a tag, which is much more convenient than trying to remember a passcode. The Tag only works for disarming, but it’s still nice to have for those situations where your hands are full and you want to quickly get access to your home. Distributing tags to your friends and family also makes it easy for them to disarm the system without having to distribute codes, but the Fortress keypad does have a disadvantage in that this Tag system doesn’t give you the ability to limit access to certain times.

  • Key Fobs – Both brands also offer key fobs for simple control of your alarms. A fob is included with both the iSmartAlarm and Fortress system by default, but you can also buy them separately if you’d like to give one to each member of your family. Fortress also offers the RFID Key Tags which we discussed above as part of the support for multiple wireless keypads. It’s a little unclear why you’d want both a fob and an RFID key tag since they both seem to accomplish the same thing, although the key fob does allow the ability to deactivate the system without having to move to the panel itself while the tag forces you to swipe.

  • Remote Panic Button – The iSmartAlarm system also includes a remote panic button on the key fob so that you can easily call for help if you find yourself in danger and away from the keypad. Fortress offers a remote panic button that is sold separately from the fob and can function as a doorbell on the main panel — sounding a chime when triggered. If you’re not interested in the chime feature, however, you can also use your key fob as a panic button, just as you would with the iSmartAlarm.

  • DIY Installation – Whether you choose the iSmartAlarm or Fortress system, installation will be a breeze.

    For iSmartAlarm, all you have to do is take the system out of the box and download the Android or iOS marketplace. Once you have the app installed, you’ll just create an account and follow the steps to set up your security suite. It’s as simple as that! During this process, you’ll create a master admin account that will allow you to control who has access to the network, and then you’ll be able to add additional devices into your system through the iSmartAlarm app. The app makes expanding your system in the feature super easy, as all you’ll need to do is set up the sensors and then add them in through the same process you took with installing your iSmartAlarm setup in the first place.

    With Fortress, the Fortress Security Store technicians have already pre-programmed your new system for you, so it’s already working right out of the box. Included in the alarm system package is sticky tape, screws, and any other mounting hardware you might need to get your sensors installed and working flawlessly. Fortress also has helpful videos available online, so you can refer to a media resource should you need help along the way.

  • Portable Security System – Last but not least, these two alarm systems are incredibly lightweight and portable. This makes them the perfect complement to an RV or mobile home, and also incredibly easy to transport from one home to another. If you move from your original residence, all it takes is packing up your security gear and plugging it in at the new place — new additional setup required!


iSmartAlarm vs. Fortress — Our Thoughts

Fortress

Ultimately, we feel that Fortress is the superior option by far. One of the biggest drawbacks of iSmartAlarm is the lack of cellular backup and battery backup, which makes it effectively useless in the event that you lose power. The lack of 24/7 monitoring is also a significant black mark for the iSmartAlarm, and despite advantages like a more affordable price and more flexible installation, we feel that it falls short of the comprehensive coverage that Fortress has to offer.

Long story short, Fortress gets our pick, although iSmartAlarm certainly remains a viable option for those looking for a basic, entry-level option that won’t break the bank.


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Last update on 2019-12-15 at 01:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API