Over the past couple of years, many home security cameras have taken their cues from the popular Dropcam, now Nest Cam. But none have done so quite as literally as Samsung’s SmartCam HD plus ($190). Despite the eerie resemblance, this new camera is no mere knockoff. Packed with features and customizable settings, it can be counted among the most impressive camera’s we’ve tested.
What you get
The SmartCam HD Plus doesn’t stray far from the Nest Cam aesthetic. It comes in a plain black finish and swivels on a simple, detachable base. You can place it on a flat surface or mount it with two included screws and wall anchors.
The camera mirrors Nest Cam’s specs as well, with a 130-degree field of view, 1080p full-HD video, night vision up to 32 feet, and an integrated mic and speaker for two-way talk. The last comes in handy when you want to communicate with kids or pets at home or startle and unsuspecting burglar.
Like many cameras, The SmartCam HD Plus must be plugged into an outlet to operate and it doesn’t support battery backup. This is an important consideration when choosing a home security camera. If the power goes out or is cut by an industrious intruder and the camera can’t switch to battery power, it won’t be able to capture surveillance footage.
As is de rigeur for the new breed of home security cameras, SmartCam HD Plus will push and email notifications to you when it detects sound or motion. False alerts are a common nuisance with this feature, so Samsung mitigates them with its Advanced Motion & Audio Detection. This is essentially a learning algorithm that can distinguish between incidental events, such as leaves rustling outside your window, and a body entering the room. The camera also lets you define detection areas to further reduce false alarms.
The SmartCam HD Plus records up to 128GB of video locally to a microSD card (a 16GB card is included with the camera). Local storage cuts both ways. On the one hand, it eliminates cloud storage subscription fees, which can run a few hundred dollars per year. On the other, the absence of cloud storage eliminates a fail safe: Should an intruder steal or destroy your camera, or even just the microSD card, you'll have no forensic evidence of the break-in to give the police.
Setup and usage
For once, a security camera lives up to its “quick setup” promise. The SmartCam app succinctly guides you through the process of connecting the camera to your wireless network. It automagically recognizes your camera —no manually entering serial numbers or scanning troublesome QR codes—and I was looking at a panorama of my living room in about 5 minutes.
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