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SpotCam HD Eva review: The security features are good, but the app isn't

Michael Ansaldo | Oct. 12, 2016
This Dropcam disciple offers pan-and-tilt, 24-hour recording, and motion/audio detection. But some awkward app functions keep it from living up to its promise.

Confirmation that this rigmarole worked is a still shot from the camera’s live feed displayed on the SpotCam app’s home screen. Tapping this picture takes you to the live feed itself.

The Spotcam app is clean and intuitive, if a little unpolished. Directly beneath the live feed window are icons for turning audio on and off, capturing still photos of the feed, and a 30-second rewind. There’s also a button for sharing access to the camera in case you want multiple family members to peek in on the homestead. Tapping this opens a window where you enter the party’s email address, customize a couple of access settings, and add an invitation message.

book shelf eva 
SpotCam HD Eva’s size makes it tough to conceal. Credit: SpotCam

The bottom half of the screen features a horizontally scrolling timeline and icons for viewing a chronology of detected sound and motion events, triggering the microphone, opening the settings tab, and getting back to the live stream.

Both live and recorded video were sharp and vibrant during my use. Even in night-vision mode, the image had good contrast with plenty of detail. Many wide-angle lenses suffer from distortions around the edges of the image, but the Eva’s showed little warping.

You control the camera’s pan-and-tilt feature by swiping horizontally or vertically in the desired direction on the live feed image. This operation is hardly precise. In theory, the length of your swipe should determine how far the camera pans or tilts (the app displays the degree of rotation). But sometimes the slightest swipe would send the camera rotating the full 180 degrees, while what seemed like a longer swipe would barely budge it. Other times, the app wouldn’t respond to swiping at all.

spotcam app
All detected motion and audio events are easily accessible from a chronological log.

The SpotCam HD Eva can detect both motion and sound—the latter is always a bonus as you’re still getting some protection if something is happening outside the camera’s field of view. Detection alerts were timely and accurate in my tests. The SpotCam app offers a fair amount of customization to reduce the incidence of false alarms: You can set motion and audio sensitivity to low, normal, or high, and opt in to be alerted to motion or audio events, or both. You can also schedule alerts to be deactivated during certain hours or days, which means you won’t need to unplug the camera when you’re home.

When an event is detected, it’s added to the event log. You just tap the event icon and select the event to see video of the triggering action. You can also access recorded events from the live feed screen by sliding through the timeline, but pinpoint accuracy is tough on a phone’s small screen. Also, sometimes trying to view videos this way caused the app to close and reboot.

 

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