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Netatmo Welcome review: This camera promises personalized security, but its facial-recognition feature falls short

Michael Ansaldo | Nov. 10, 2015
While this security camera successfully takes the creep factor out of home monitoring, its marquee feature feels like a work in progress.

All recognized faces are designated as either Home or Away. Anytime the camera sees a face, that person is identified in the app as being home. “Away” is a misnomer; the system says a person is away if it hasn’t seen them for a certain period of time, even if they’re actually home but out of view of the camera. The default is four hours, though you can change this in the app to be anywhere from one to 12 hours in 15-minute intervals.

You can also personalize settings for each person in their individual profile. By default, you will receive notifications for each person when they arrive home, but you can turn this off. You can also set a time range for when you want to be notified, say between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. when your kids usually arrive home from school. Recording parameters for known faces are also set here: You can have an individual recorded always, never, or “only on arrival.”

The camera’s included SD card can reportedly hold up to 100 clips and delete them, starting with the oldest video, when it nears capacity. Given that the camera only records when it detects an event, it’s unlikely you’ll fill the card quickly; but you can always swap in a new card if you do. Just be aware that each time you take a card out, the camera loses its memory of who’s who, and you’ll need to retrain it to recognize all those faces.

The point of face recognition is obviously to make sure the camera understands who should be in your home and who shouldn’t. But the system offers several customization options for dealing with the latter as well.

You can tell the Netatmo Welcome to always record unknown faces or only when no one is home. You can also choose to record and/or be notified of motion detection “never,” “always,” or “only when nobody is home.”

The camera’s live-feed screen is similar to that of other home security cameras. A video window sits on top of a timeline of motion and face events. Pressing an event takes you to video of the incident. Live video is exceptionally clear with no fish-eye distortion in either day or night modes. There’s no digital zoom feature, though, so you can’t hone in on specific areas of the panorama. Video playback is crisp and smooth.

Aside from managing profiles and recording settings, the app can be used to turn the camera on and off. You can set a four-digit security code for accessing the on/off switch to ensure unauthorized people can’t deactivate your camera.

Bottom line

The Netatmo Welcome gets points for trying to make the home-security experience more reassuring than alarming. Everything from the product’s name to the extensive personalization options seeks to remove—or at least to downplay—the creepy surveillance aspect of home monitoring. Unfortunately, the system’s lynchpin—facial recognition—is far from reliable and results in exactly the kind of vague alerts it promises to eliminate.

 

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