Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2019
This review was updated on Nov 13, 2019. Original review text found below.
The manufacturer made quite a few improvements on the software side, not only in what we see on the control application - made it look a bit nicer with a more polished user interface - but also changed all their servers communication. It now only talks to their few semi-static systems hosted in Quebec City, Canada, and not China anymore, so progress, I suppose. The video feeds are still unencrypted but the video request is now made securely, so this can be considered secure enough for most people. I would still prefer an out of the box fully private and internal setup, with no push notifications or annoying banners saying “here, use our Cloud storage service” when I already have my local storage and I can spin up my own “cloud” storage if I want, but again, that’s how the world we live in works these days and how an average user would use the product (and I know I’m not an average user since I am able to use the product the way I need it). Therefore I suppose I can add back the missing stars to the review.
What still takes one star away is the pressure from the third party reviewer management of this camera. Yes, I’m still getting contacted by them, asking to change my review to make the product look nicer in exchange of a full refund, and “not to tell I’ve been contacted so others would write fake reviews as well”.
Original review as follows:
As someone who is in the IT infrastructure field, I tend to look at certain things outside the "end user" level eyes, so I end up seeing more than the average person would. Which means I can talk about what is not on the user manual and go way deeper than manufacturers would like - more so when we talk about networked devices.
The good: The camera setup is simple. Dead simple. Push a button, hear a simple statement, follow the app steps, done. I really liked the clever use of an old technology: audio data transmission. It brought me back memories of the dial up Internet days :) Pretty good video compression, does not require too much bandwidth to stream live vide, and does not have long delays for the video and audio. Speaking of, the audio quality is very crisp and clear, both on the microphone or the speaker - pretty loud by the way. They made a good use of an intuitive zoom, pan & tilt - providing you are used to a smartphone. Camera motors are very silent - your cat will notice it but with any minimal noise, you barely would hear it moving. Nice image qualities, day and night. Multiple cameras can be configured in one app, multiple devices able to fully interact to all these cameras, yes, it is that easy! Ability to record to an external device - not sure how this works or which device this works with, but it is there. Simple, single motion detection schedule - pick the days and time ranges, no multiple schedules but does the trick. Kudos to the product team, it is an efficient product.
The bad: No option for batteries (internal rechargeable or replaceable/external). While I understand a 24x7 recording set would eat battery in no time, if you set it to motion detection, you can save a lot of juice. Something similar to what a few doorbells manage to do. Not so bad if you consider the camera is, then, always on and immediately ready for action. The original firmware was sort of old, at least 2 revisions behind - that's how many times I had to upgrade each camera (I got more than one). While pretty small, the second firmware gave me a brief anxiety moment, since it did not reconnected back to the wireless network on its own as it happened during the first firmware upgrade. Seems it wipes the configuration and you have to redo it. Minor but perhaps a simple note prior to the upgrade process clarifying this would be very welcome. Also bad - for me - is the lack of 5GHz. But hey, if I had to stop my review here, I would still go for 5 stars. All in all, it is a great product.
The ugly: Here is where the nerd of me comes into play. You cannot just open the mobile app and connect to the cameras without a user account. You are forced to create an account. Even if you are using local MicroSD cards and are not going to make use of their Cloud Storage service. The camera fetches its upgrade file and timezone information file from the manufacturer site, in China, using plain HTTP (no SSL or TLS). It also keeps synchronizing its internal clock with standard NTP (network time) servers in both South Korea and China (there's a way to use a pool of servers instead of hardcoded ones, even if they don't want to make it user configurable). There are also some other communications, which appears to be to servers in Canada, which as of now I'm assuming are "ping" commands to update their status, to send motion detection notifications, or start a video feed whenever I requested while outside my wireless network and I want to access the cameras on the go. I opted to get this camera for the good reviews I read about it and and the fact I have to have an account and cannot have it isolated from the outside world is a major two stars down for me.
I understand the rationale for the outside world connectivity requirements (ie, motion detection notifications, out of network video feed, software updates). If you don't mind getting full visibility (literally, since you can pan and tilt the cameras to your heart's desire) of your home outside your four walls, this is a 5 star camera. If you care but only hope the system cannot be abused, this is a 3 star camera. If you care and is concerned about privacy, then go for another product: this is not for you. Me, I'm sticking with the 3 star camera.
2019-06-22: I too was contacted by a third party company asking what they can relay to the manufacturer so they can improve the product, and I was offered either a replacement unit or full refund. This goes to say they don't read the review or are just automating things up - I don't know how could I be more clear with what their software development team should do as a new firmware upgrade.