I’ve always wanted to set up legitimate security cameras in my home, but pricing always gets the better of me. With hope to find a more suitable, affordable security camera that would get the job done, I searched the web from top to bottom and discovered WyzeCam, a 1080p Wi-Fi smart camera from Wyze Labs.
Every company out there right about now is hungry to create innovative products for the smart home that everyone wants. But why go all fancy when fundamentals can do the job best? I asked myself this question after spending time with the WyzeCam.
I would be lying to you had I said I was optimistic when I first stumbled upon the WyzeCam, a white-colored smart security camera that retails for just $20. Made by a company I didn’t know all that well, I was more than skeptical. But after conducting a full hands-on review of the WyzeCam, my impressions have changed for the better.
Wyze Labs was nice enough to send Droid Turf a few WyzeCam units for us to take a look at, and after examining two of them for a week, I owe the company an apology. My experiences have been, surprisingly, very positive. Lesson learned that in actuality, the book might be better than its cover. Let’s dive in and find out why.
Wyze Labs’ mission was clear– to create the best possible working security camera for modern times in a small, $20 affordable package. Now I know, design isn’t the most important aspect of a security camera that’s meant to go unnoticed, but this one does a surprisingly good job at what it is designed to do– blend in. It is plain, simple, and looks like a regular security camera with nothing overly fancy.
As you’d expect from a $20 camera, the neat little gadget is made of plastic. However, it does a good job at hiding it. In fact, from just a few feet away, it could easily get by as a $100 camera made of more premium materials. On front of the near 2-inch cube is a large circular lens and microphone. Both sides with addition to the top are clean, while the back possesses a charging cut out, speaker, LED indicator, and USB Type-A port. On the bottom there are more speaker holes, as well as a setup/factory reset hardware button and microSD card slot.
The WyzeCam uses microUSB to funnel in power, and must be plugged in all the time to work. On the opposite end of the charging cable is a male USB Type-A that can be plugged into an included wall adapter, or a PC shall the near 6 foot cable be long enough for your desired place. I should note one caveat of the charging port, which is the fact that it is inside a small opening. If you happened to lose the flat cable that comes with the device, a spare you may have lying around the house may not suffice because of the narrow cut out.
I found the set up process very simple out the gate. Not much comes in the packaging other than the camera and its power essentials, and you don’t need anything fancy to start this up other than a router. The bottom of the camera is an adjustable kickstand that pulls out from beneath and allows you to raise the camera off a surface and angle it toward a subject. It can be angled up or down and rotated side to side almost a full 360-degrees. This assures that you’ll get the angle you want, and helps make up for the somewhat small panoramic field of view the actual camera lens has. Small rubber soles at the bottom keep the device from sliding around, and some 3M tape as well as a magnetic metal disc are included to help you mount the smart device on a wall.
The WyzeCam features live video, video recording and photo-taking. It’s capable of capturing up to 1080p Full HD video and has 8X Digital Zoom, which can be experimented with in the mobile app by pinching in and out. The camera also has Motion Detection and a Night Vision mode, for shooting footage at night on a grey scale. The Night Vision setting can be set to turn on automatically, or by control in the app.
Image quality is solid and the best you’re going to find for $20. Images in daylight are super clear and crisp, and color representation is for the most part accurate. When the lights go off, camera quality does worsen, but Night Vision is bright enough for you to see what’s going on. I did notice some occasional lag and stutter while live-streaming footage on my smartphone, but this could be attributed to my overloaded router. If you move the camera while it’s recording, you may also experience some blur. However, this wasn’t a deal breaker since motion shots aren’t on my agenda for use of this camera. Overall, camera quality is all it needs to be. After all, this is a security camera, you’re not showcasing the images in an art gallery.
The App + Set Up
To set up WyzeCam for use, you’ll need to install ‘Wyze’ on a smartphone or tablet. The set up process doesn’t take a genius, but the app itself could use a bit of work. When you open Wyze for the first time, you’ll be asked to create an account using your email address. You’ll also be able to enable push notifications and set up a profile with an image of yourself, though for some reason my app force closed every time I attempted to upload an image.
To pair WyzeCam, go under the ‘Devices’ tab and tap on ‘Add Camera.’ Next, plug-in your WyzeCam and wait 20 seconds until the yellow status light begins flashing. Hold the ‘SETUP’ button on the camera until you hear a beep and the line “Ready to Connect.” Visual illustrations shown within the app go step by step, and on-screen prompts guide you through the process that takes 5 or 10 minutes at most. During these steps, you’ll connect the camera to your home Wi-Fi network, which must be a 2.4GHz network (most routers), and set up the camera by pointing it at a QR code displayed on your mobile.
Once you have everything connected, the app will check for updates and let you know if there’s a new firmware version available for the camera. Mine had an update straight out of the box and took about 10 minutes to install. You’ll now be able to set up additional WyzeCams for video monitoring, change the name of your WyzeCam, and share access to your camera feed with others you trust by sending them an invite. Under ‘Devices,’ you’ll see a thumbnail containing what each of your WyzeCams see, and you’ll be able to manage shared users and expand the camera viewfinder to fit your screen.
Overall, there were a few crashes from time to time as mentioned, but they didn’t take away from the positive experience I had using this camera in my living room. I found the app very easy to navigate, as all controls needed were up front with distinguishable and responsive visuals.
For $20, WyzeCam exceeded all my expectations with few compromises. The camera can record video with sound continuously, or just record when alerted. This footage is stored on a microSD card (not included). Alerts can consist of Motion Detection, Smoke Alarm Detection, Sound Detection, CO Detection or a combination of any, and history is logged under the ‘Notifications’ section of the app on a day-by-day calendar. You can set these alerts to notify you via a notification if you’d like, and even set a schedule with a start and end time.
Users can check in on the camera any time they’d like with live video monitoring inside the app. Just know that it’s not recording for you to look back on by default. Controls are available in the app for capturing photos, recording video and even shooting time-lapses (requires microSD card). On the photos and during the videos, users can also print the date and time for remembrance.
Media is stored on the company’s cloud storage service. Cloud recording is free, but after 14 days, older videos are overwritten to make room for new ones. There is also a microSD card slot on the underneath side of the device that holds locally recorded videos and time-lapse videos. Under ‘Settings’ in the app you can see how much storage space remains.
If you thought that was all, you’ll be glad to know that this camera also has two-way audio. Meaning, sound is captured with all your videos and can be listened to in real-time. In the app, one can also use a ‘Voice’ setting to broadcast audio out through the camera to whomever is in the room. I found this quite handy, though the sound was of very low-quality and often times unclear.
With WyzeCam, Wyze Labs carved out a middle ground for cameras of solid all-around quality and performance at a price almost everyone can afford. I can’t imagine they are making much profit, but quantity could definitely get them where they want to be. I was awoken by what the company was able to pack for such a low-cost, and you’ll probably feel the same way.
Now I know there are a lot of companies out there, many of which make a run for best bang for your buck. There are lots of cameras just like this on the market, and if you’re looking to spend a bit more in order to get a bit more, you’ll be able to do so. But for what Wyze Labs has done with WyzeCam deserves your attention. It’s not perfect by any means, but merely a solution that pushes every boundary and should be given a chance.
As a fan of the WyzeCam, I’ll certainty be looking for an update. If the company could only grow out its ecosystem a bit with some new products, and add the ability to pair WyzeCam with say the Google Assistant, they’d be looking at a home run. There’s a lot of potential here, and I look at this as an exceptional start to something that can get better. With just a little more work, Wyze Labs could have themselves a real competitor and top offering.
Rather than scrolling past the WyzeCam, I found a real place for them in my home and haven’t looked any further to other options. For $20, WyzeCam does all you need it to do and is worth every penny. If you ever need a sense of protection, look no further than the small, inexpensive, modern-age security camera that is WyzeCam. You can’t go wrong.
The WyzeCam includes just about everything you’ll need to get started. Personally, I suggest linking several of them together, as my experience only got better with the number. You can find WyzeCam on Amazon and the company’s own online store, both of which are linked below.
Check out more hands-on reviews from Droid Turf.