It's quite easy to review something that you use yourself especially after researching it to death before buying it. Yea, I just gave away the entire review as this is my favorite home security system on the market today!
The GE Simon XT is made by their Interlogix Division. Interlogix has very long history in the security arena with a trusted and great reputation.
What should you look for in a home security system?
A home security system needs to be easy to use at bare minimum or it will not get used. Your choice also needs to be reliable or what's the point. Having as many things as possible on your wish list of features will narrow down the choices too. Buying from a known, large manufacturer will provide good support if necessary. For someone looking to install a home security system themselves, you better pick a no-brain-er as there are some products out there that we would need to be a rocket scientist to get running properly. And finally, is the price that you pay as I'm not Donald Trump and chances are you do not have his means either if you're reading this.
Features or benefits – can we have both ?
Often we see some great sounding features in a product that may sell us on it but in reality, those features do not translate into solving our problems or providing a benefit. Well the Simon XT is a definite exception to that thought and I have to credit their engineers for providing necessary and useful features while keeping it simple and straightforward to use.
What are some of these benefits?
I will not repeat everything on the data sheet but here are some of the things that I like best:
It's menu driven and simple enough to use that even the kids have it down pat as four main buttons control most functions.
There's a large LCD and the buttons are back-lit so you can see what you're doing even when it's installed in a dark closet.
Of course it gives you plenty of zones and even the ability of using both hard-wired and wireless sensors.
It supports an internal cellphone communication card so you do not need to rely on a telephone wire. I bought the version with this built-in.
It supports the two major communications formats for security monitoring so you can chose almost any monitoring company. CID or contact ID is used by many companies as it's been around awhile. SIA from the Securities Industry Association is a newer, more robust and open standard which achieves greater compatibility of security devices and monitoring stations.
Back-up battery is internal and keeps everything working in case of a power failure.
Single button emergency summoning of help.
Two way audio communication with the monitoring station and it's actually intelligent.
Expandable with a variety of options including multiple remote wireless talking touchscreens.
It's very inexpensive.
Installation was a piece of cake.
Is there icing on this cake?
As I'm a home automation enthusiast, trying to merge a security system with my Z Wave system was on my wish list but it was not a showstopper. Well, the Simon XT is fully compatible with all my already installed home automation stuff.
Seeing how many of the largest companies in the home security business recommend the GE Simon XT made my decision even more of a no brain-er.
If you happen to own X10 home automation modules, beware as the literature claims compatibility with X10 but you will not get it to work. There's obviously a special power transformer that's required to pass the X10 signals and it's no longer available.
About the only other complaint that I would have is the manual that came with the unit. It falls short for someone like me who wants's every bit of info available. Downloading a more up to date and complete manual solved that problem though.
There is a new version out called the Simon XTi that has recently been released.
The new Simon XTi adds the convenience of a talking touch screen. It also lets you view pictures captured with a wireless image sensor located remotely in the home. Images are retained and managed in a library on the Simon XTi and viewable online.
While these are both nice features, you do need camera's to use the second feature. Like I started out with, does a feature always translate into a benefit? For some maybe but not for me.