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July 4, 2018

WyzeCam review: A cheap smart security camera that does the job

by John_A

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A wise man said, “If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

The WyzeCam is an affordable indoor smart home camera that boasts a ton of cool features for a price tag this low. Available for just $26 with no monthly subscription fee, the WyzeCam offers 1080p HD live streaming video, motion tracking, and notification alerts, along with premium features such as rolling cloud storage all built into an app that’s a breeze to use.

Based on that, the WyzeCam might seem like a no-brainer. But as the old saying goes, you basically get what you pay for.

WyzeCam



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Price: $26

Bottom line: If you’re interested in a wireless camera to keep tabs on parts of your house while you’re away, the WyzeCam is an affordable entry point that offers some premium features without a monthly fee.

The Good

  • Surprising quality in a compact size
  • Magnetic mounting options
  • Performs reliably with decent video performance
  • Premium features without a monthly subscription
  • Support for microSD cards for continuous recording

The Bad

  • Too light, easy to get knocked over if not properly mounted
  • Two-way audio is nearly unusable
  • Power cable limits placement options
  • Doesn’t integrate with other smart home devices
  • Users reported suspicious data transfers with earlier software.

See at Amazon

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Cheap and easy to use

WyzeCam What I like

I was first and foremost surprised by the compact size of the WyzeCam — all folded in on itself it’s roughly a two-inch cube. You’ll either love or hate the cube design as it’s a matter of taste, but compared to the sleeker and round designs of competing cameras I love it.

The setup process is simple using the WyzeCam app and makes rare use of a QR code to expedite the pairing process. Given the ease and cost involved with setting up the one sent to me for review purposes, I could see this being an affordable way of keeping tabs on all areas inside your home especially compared to other popular brands like Nest, Arlo, or Amazon. I never had an issue with connecting to my home Wi-Fi, and the camera was only ever knocked offline by a curious pet.

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The Wyze Cam boasts some respectable specs including live-streaming 1080p HD video and microSD support for continuous local recording. I was able to connect and check in on my place on a recent trip to San Francisco and tested the sharing function while house sitting for my friend and co-worker Mick Symons. I’ve included his thoughts on using the WyzeCam below.

The motion-tracking and sound alerts certainly came in handy during my stint house sitting. I had just left the house when I got a text from Mick saying he had received a notification that his home alarm had gone off. I immediately checked the app to see what had set off the alarm and quickly discovered that Appa, Mick’s dog, had knocked over a baby gate set up to keep him out of the living room.

The loud noise set off both the home alarm and the WyzeCam noise alert, so when I checked the camera I was greeted to a clip of a confused dog standing next to the fallen gate in a noisy room.

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Questions over where the data goes

WyzeCam What I don’t like

We live in a time where our devices are constantly leeching personal data that’s just waiting to be scooped up and analyzed by interested third parties. That fact was front of mind while I went through the process of setting this connected camera up in my home, and I spent a good while reading the Terms and Conditions of use because we’re talking about video and audio data from my bedroom being sent in data packets around the world.

While there were no outright red flags in the documentation — beyond all the legal language absolving WyzeCam of any responsibility if your property is stolen or destroyed in a fire — there do seem to be valid reasons for my concern. Six months ago, some WyzeCam users started reporting that the Wyze Cam app was sending data to non-AWS servers which understandably became a point of concern for the community.

WyzeCam’s response was that any rerouting of data must have occurred because the contracted commercial IoT streaming provider, ThroughTek, has its servers set up in different locations. The company has since stated the issue has been addressed in the latest firmware updates and that all camera traffic is now limited to within the US and there’s a section that explains how they encrypt your live stream data to ensure your personal data is always secure.

The It shouldn’t be a significant issue and if you’re too bothered by the possibility of your data being mismanaged you’re best off spending a bit more on another wireless security camera.

Other issues I had while testing the WyzeCam involved it getting knocked down either because a cat knocked it over or something tugged at the power cable. I wish it had an internal battery or came with a longer micro USB cable because I felt pretty limited finding a spot where I could plug the camera in with a good vantage of the room. It also doesn’t integrate with Google Assistant or Alexa and the noise or movement notifications work, and I wish you had more control over fine-tuning the alerts for specific days of the week.

WyzeCam in the real world

Wyze Cam Second opinion

I (Mick Symons) went on vacation for 10 days and left Marc to watch over my house and my pets (brave or stupid, you decide). He plugged in the WyzeCam and had it on the bookshelf in my living room so that I could periodically check in on my home while I was hiking in Alberta.

Video-wise, it worked very well. The only time I was unable to connect was when one of my cats inevitably unplugged the WyzeCam, which was plugged in beneath their tree (perch?). The video loaded up quickly each time, and despite some occasional buffering when the screen would freeze, I was able to check on things in real time. I also dig that the screenshot for the camera is the last frame you looked at before leaving the app.

Audio is a bit of a different story. When the camera was working quickly and streaming in real time, the audio was flawless — I was able to hear room noise and even kitty footsteps (and the two times the pets set the alarm off). When the camera had to buffer or there was too much video activity, audio was poor. It was stilted and patchy at best. I tried to have a conversation with Marc, but it was terrible. For one, the speaker on the WyzeCam is pretty bad; it’s overblown and garbly at the best of times. Occasionally, talking through the camera sounded OK, but only OK. And because of the delay, having a conversation with someone in the room was near-impossible.

That said, for the price, I’d still recommend this camera. The video quality is solid, and aside from occasional delay, checking in in real time is sweet. Just don’t try and have a conversation with anyone. But if you want to talk through it to scare off a burglar, it’ll likely more than do the job.

WyzeCam

It’s easy to recommend the WyzeCam based purely on its ease of use, compact design, and affordable price. There’s no monthly subscription to deal with, either, which is pretty extraordinary — but if data security is a top concern, the software issues might be a valid enough reason to be skeptical whether this deal of a camera is simply too good to be true.

3
out of 5


You can get your WyzeCam for just $26 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

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