Directed Electronics’ Viper SmartStart security and remote-start system, with its accompanying app, is no standard remote-start product. It does so much more than heat your car on a cold winter morning.
The Viper SmartStart remote system comes with a two-way key fob as well as a one-way fob (I was given the 5704 Responder LC3 2-Way). The two-way fob features a small LCD screen with gives you a visual of the actions you’ve taken. So, if you press the “lock” icon, the screen will display a lock graphic and will flash the word “Armed” in confirmation. The one-way fob does not have the screen, but includes the same push buttons for lock, unlock, remote start and door-opening button (for vehicles like mini-vans).
What is so simple about the fob, yet so valuable, are the alerts. It let me know when one of my doors was not latched properly when I tried to “arm” the system. The fob vibrates and flashes the message “Door Open.” Also, if you start the car (via fob or your phone) when the car is unlocked, it automatically locks the car. The remote start also has a feature, which will disable the car once the break pedal has been pushed to further safeguard the car from being moved once you have started it.
If your car is violated while armed, not only does the familiar car alarm sound, you receive a text message alerting you that it has been triggered.
By downloading the Directed Electronics SmartStart app (available for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices), the lock/unlock/remote-start functions are available via your smartphone in addition to truck-opening and panic options. I was outfitted with the SmartStart GPS model, which includes a host of cool features in the GPS Basic Service Plan, including vehicle location/speed; speed alert; and movement alert. Additional amenities like SmartFence, HotSpot and Curfew Monitoring are available with a Premium Plan subscription.
Using the app, you can locate your vehicle at any time and have the peace of mind of knowing it is exactly where you left it. And if you are in a strange area, you can use the SmartPark feature to “Park Your Car,” which will allow you to take a photo so you can remember where it is. There is also the “Find My Car” option if you forget to take the pic.
SmartFence allows the user to create a secure zone around the vehicle and send alerts when the vehicle leaves the zone. HotPost allows you to add a virtual fence around selected locations and send alerts if your vehicle goes there.
Curfew restricts the speed alert and movement settings to the day and time you select. I set this up to send me a message when the car went above 50 mph. I received the message telling me exactly when and where this occurred.
Other interesting features include the SmartStart Motor Club, which can aid drivers who need help on the road. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on this portion of the product without ever having a real emergency. And the other is the Home Control feature, which will allow users to sync their home security systems with the app.
What I found most beneficial was the GPS function of locating the vehicle at all times, in addition knowing that if anything happened to my car, I would be notified immediately. If it was stolen, I would be able to track it at all times. Also, the ability to lock/unlock, etc., from my smartphone is a very useful tool (as I am always forgetting to lock the doors!).
And, for parents of teenagers who frequently borrow the car, this product would give them incredible insight into how fast they are driving and how far away they are going. Poor kids.
There are various SmartStart Modules to choose from (which can be viewed at http://www.viper.com/SmartStart/Pricing.aspx). Service plans also start at $49.99.
Also remember that you will need to have it installed. The pricing will vary for these dealers, but according to Directed Electronics, there are dealers that have advertised installation for the Viper SmartStart for as low as $199. I would suggest finding a reputable place. My installation was not quick—about five hours—but I received a thorough explanation/tutorial following the installation and I have not had one problem with my car or product (and I personally saw my car completely dismantled during installation).
Some things Directed Electronics says to keep in mind about remote-start installation pricing include:
• Most installations require additional vehicle-specific parts and labor to customize and integrate the remote start properly with your individual car’s systems.
• Many of today’s modern remote-start systems are safely compatible with diesel- and manual-transmission vehicles.
The company also has just released the Viper SmartStart 3.0, which includes cloud-connected features. More info on this version can be found at viper.com/SmartStart.