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Guardzilla review: This dirt-cheap home-security camera has some growing to do

Christopher Null | Feb. 3, 2015
In the increasingly commoditized wireless security camera world, Guardzilla's sales pitch is tough to beat. A sub-$100 sales price. No monthly fees. One minute setup. What's not to like?

In the increasingly commoditized wireless security camera world, Guardzilla's sales pitch is tough to beat. A sub-$100 sales price. No monthly fees. One minute setup. What's not to like?

Right out of the box, the plastic Guardzilla pyramid starts off with a roar. A spare, index-card-sized quick guide takes you through just four steps to get things going: place the camera where you want and plug it in, download the app for iOS or Android, join Guardzilla's temporary Wi-Fi network, then follow along through the configuration wizard to join your permanent LAN.

This process, while a bit more time consuming than 60 seconds, is intuitive and simple enough for novices. The only hiccup is that you'll need to manually enter your standard Wi-Fi network name, password, and the security protocol it uses; so it's best to find out if you're running WPA or WPA2 before you start setting things up.

Guardzilla is managed primarily from a very basic admin screen on your phone, with just five options arranged in a Skittles-colored spray of buttons. Most are self-explanatory, letting you arm or disarm the system, check a live feed, and review the history of activity in the room you're monitoring.

A unique option — Panic — lets you quickly trip Guardzilla's built-in audible alarm. The (purported) 100-decibel klaxon is shrill, though not much more menacing than a smoke detector siren.

By digging into the Settings menu, Guardzilla can be configured to work in a variety of ways. Like most security cameras, it can keep an eye out for motion, and then capture snapshots when movement is detected. You can also set it to sound that built-in alarm, if scaring off intruders is your goal.

Guardzilla includes a night-vision mode, too, but this can be disabled at the user's discretion.

If Guardzilla detects movement in its frame, it snaps a series of three photos, and then saves them in the Guardzilla app. Plug a MicroSD card (not included) into the device itself, and you can record video (either continuously or only when the alarm is tripped), but there's no way to access that video aside from ejecting the card and plugging it into another device.

Growing pains

All of this would be swell if it wasn't for some serious bugs that impact Guardzilla's utility. First, motion sensitivity was erratic in my testing. Five sensitivity levels are available, but even on the maximum sensitivity I would typically find that Guardzilla would not detect a person's presence in the frame unless I was just a few feet from the device. Walking in and out of the frame when I was more than about 20 feet away made me functionally invisible to Guardzilla, a condition that considerably limits its utility.

 

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