Just off the show floor at CEDIA, a long-time friend from the PR world introduced me to a client that makes consumer-grade Wi-Fi cameras for security and home monitoring. I’m a bit a novice when it comes to evaluating security systems, having never owned a system or using much more than the embedded camera in my MacBook Pro, but I agreed to take a look at the "Mini" 720p indoor Wi-Fi camera from EZVIZ.
Set up was very simple. In fact the three-step process in printed right on the product packaging. First you connect the camera (which measures 3 inches high by 2 inches wide, including the base) to power. Next you download the EZVIZ app, from the Apple App Store or via Google play, and register an account. Then you add the camera to the app by scanning the QR code or typing in the serial number on the box.
Once the diminutive white and silver device is connected to Wi-Fi, you’re up and running. I set up the camera in my home office where I could spy on my sleeping (or more likely, anxiously pacing) hound dog while away from home. The app defaults to a four-picture grid, demonstrating its ability to network four separate cameras in one system. I only have one, so I clicked on an icon that switches to single-camera mode, then pivoted my iPhone to landscape mode to view a full-color 720p live feed.
The camera features a microphone, so I can clearly hear Otis’ plaintive woofs in the background when he’s out of camera range, waiting at the back door. After hours, when the sun is down and room lights are off, a high-quality night vision feature turns the video feed black and white, but the details don’t go away. In addition to offering live video, the camera also records motion- and sound-triggered events and saves either to a 16GB microSD card (up to 64 GB with a different card) or securely to the cloud (subscription required) until space is needed. The camera’s recording bit rate is adaptive, with settings available for hi-def, standard, or basic. Multiple users can register for access to the same device through the app.
I’ve enjoyed my little foray into the Wi-Fi camera world. I wish I had a technology like this a long time ago, particularly when I spent more time away from dog, working outside the home, and when he was a much more active puppy getting into mischief. I periodically check the live camera when I’m away, but unfortunately many times my dog has left the room. Ideally, I’d have multiple camera setup and remote control of pan and tilt. Camera positioning is somewhat limited to proximity to a power outlet and most people will be reluctant to have a white power cord snaking down their wall. That’s why mine is located closer to the floor, even though I’d rather mount it up high.
But for the price ($69.99 MRSP without the 16GB microSD card; $79.99 with) you can’t really beat the EZVIZ Mini. It is a straight consumer play, sold exclusively at Sam’s Club and on Amazon, but might make a fun stocking stuffer or quick fix to help monitor your office or storefront.