Viper Home Starter Kit review: It's the software, stupid

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The app

viper apps view

The apps view

After you log in to Viper Connect, you’ll be taken to the Apps view, where you’ll only need the top-left option: Home Control. The button that says Personal Security might seem tempting, but its sole feature, a Panic button connected to a pre-arranged list of contacts, is duplicated in Home Control.

Once in Home Control you’ll see five tabs along the bottom: Home, Video, Control, History, and More. In the Home tab, you’re allowed to Arm Away, Arm Stay, Disarm, view the system Status, and tap the Panic button. (Arm Away, Arm Stay, and Disarm are also featured on the web dashboard.)

viper arm stay mobile

Home Control

And what’s the difference between these controls? I’m glad you asked because again, Viper does not provide any information on the software controls, leaving it up to you to poke around and determine how to configure and run your system. As you could likely discern, Arm Away is for arming the unit when everyone will be away from the home and all sensors should be armed; Arm Stay is used when someone is home and only particular sensors should be armed, for example, those downstairs or on the perimeter of the house. Worth noting: You cannot Arm Stay if you have a door/window sensor ajar.

Now, remember back in the web dashboard where you had an option to arm the device for Arm Stay or Custom Arm? That setting tells the system what to arm when you hit Arm Stay, so any sensors you deselect here will be inactive during Arm Stay. This makes perfect sense when you explain it, but it can be very frustrating when you’re essentially feeling your way through the system blind and unaware of what each command even means.

The app's other tabs are more self-explanatory: Video lets you tap on your cameras to record your live stream. Control lets you pair any smart energy devices in your house to the Viper system (something I didn’t attempt).

The History tab shows when doors or windows are open or shut, when anything is tampered with or goes offline, when an armed motion detector senses something, and any video recordings. You get details on the date and time, the device, and the event.

viper history me 2

The History tab.

This was pretty cool—it was nice to be able to see if my kitchen window was open from work—but a bit inconsistent. When I was at work or far away from home, the app occasionally defaulted to the demo view, showing examples of a system history and not my system history. This actually occurred sometimes even when I was at my house, but would usually correct itself in a few minutes. However, when farther away from home and attempting to refresh to see my history, I was logged out. Which was where my real problems started.

In the More tab, you have five options: Devices, Store, About, Settings, and My Account. Devices shows all the devices listed to your account; Store and About you can probably figure out. However (and this is my other main frustration with Viper’s system), My Account is not the option you want to log into. The My Account button here leads to, and not My Account, and, is where you control your subscription. To access your Viper kit account, where you can actually connect to the app's features and your system, you need to tap on Settings, then on the first line, which should say Log In.

viper more menu

One of your logins is in My Account. The other is in Settings. Whhhy?

That’s right. You have two logins in this app. Now, my contacts at Viper have assured me that my password should be the same for both logins, which makes me wonder what the purpose is of having two logins in the first place. If the password is the same, why do I have to log in multiple times/places?

Ignoring that weirdness, let me assure you: Right now my password for absolutely does not work for—and this occurred multiple times while I was testing the unit, leading me to a maddening funhouse of password resets and being locked out of the app. This was a pretty gnarly snag in my using the system, and a fix here—one login, one site—would really improve the experience for the user. Two logins within the same app feels punitive.

Bottom line

Although it took longer than I expected to work out the kinks, once I had the system set up (and had a good understanding of the features), I liked it well enough. The alarms went off as they should; I never worried about leaving my home unattended, and it was nice to check the history to see if the kitchen window was open or if my boyfriend had left for work, and the email and text alerts were great.

viper intrusion alert mobile

The text intrusion alarm.

I was pleased with how easy the hardware was to set up, but disappointed by how much difficulty I had with the software—and while some of that is on me, I don’t think Viper should assume that all its users are automatically going to understand what Arm Stay’s features are, or how to configure the devices to their liking. I would really have liked to see clear and detailed instructions for both the web dashboard and the app, especially because a hurdle for home security kits is that users are intimidated by the technology, or don’t understand how to troubleshoot it.

Likewise, there is just no need to have two logins, or two websites. Those should be consolidated immediately—that way no one will have to look into why my password isn’t working for both sites. I wouldn’t mind a fix for the system going offline, and to default mode, and back on again either.

Can I recommend the Viper Home Starter Kit? Well, sure, if you have $230 and either a compelling interest in home security or the patience of a schoolteacher, you will likely enjoy the features you get from this system. But the kinks it currently has make it a challenge for an everyday consumer, and it has plenty of competition from other systems that don’t have these particular hurdles.

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At a Glance
  • The hardware in the Viper Home Starter Kit is super easy to set up. The software is where we encountered some road bumps including dual log-in confusion and the system going offline at random. A software upgrade would go a long way here.


    • The hardware components were all fairly easy to set up.
    • Alarms and alerts worked very well.


    • Two log-in's within the same app resulted in confusion and password errors.
    • The software isn't intuitive enough to not include a more detailed guide.
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