“How are we going to trump all the other HD smart home cameras on the market?” You can almost hear the folks at Oco’s marketing meeting ask. Apparently, their answer was to offer one year of free cloud storage, whereas most others offer only a week or month.
That might make quite a compelling reason to pick up this modest $99 unit (as of this writing – (For the latest prices and discounts, check here), but is there anything else that could make it stand above its many rivals including the Nest, Arlo and Dropcam.
Most home video recording solutions offer HD with chat, so any extra differentiation is going to be a struggle.
Will the Oco be able to make any additional impact? Let’s find out as we put it through its paces.
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Key Features of the Oco Smart Cam
- Relatively Basic Video Quality: With just a 720p recording system, the puck-like Oco Wireless Security Cam is already down on specifications compared to its 1080p brethren. Give it a year or two and we can probably expect 2K or 4K cameras to be hitting the market, so consider this a basement entry-level model.
- All the Standard Bells and Whistles: Aside from the camera, with its mandatory night vision mode, the Oco also comes with a speaker and microphone, so you can use it as a baby monitor or nanny cam and chat to the family. Otherwise, it connects directly to your smartphone app over WiFi removing the need for a hub.
- 1 Year of Free Cloud Streaming: Once set up and running, that 24 hour free cloud streaming for a year will kick into action, which could be useful, but if you’re ever away for long periods, any action will have long been recorded over, so you might need to pay for Oco’s subscription offer anyway. The subscription offers 30 days of storage and also comes with activity alerts.
Pros of the Oco Wireless Security Cam
- Easy to Physically Install: The Oco camera comes in a neat puck that be screwed into a wall, or the camera can be lifted up, so it sits on a base unit on a shelf for use around the home. It is recommended for indoor use only, and offers a live view of whatever’s going on in the room, it can record and stream, depending on your subscription.
- Compatible with Multiple OS: The wireless connection is setup by installing the Ivideon app that is available for iOS, Android, Windows devices, and will also run on PC web browsers. This is a step up on many devices that only support iOS and/or Android, so kudos to Oco for that.
- Smart Alerts and Remote Control: Once you are setup and streaming, the app can receive alert notifications based on movement, sound or if the camera itself is moved. All of this is controlled through the app, which is smart looking, well designed and very clear and easy to use.
- Solid Night Mode: The night mode, with 11 infrared LEDs, is pretty decent, working well in a dark room, but lacking detail as the output is only 720p, with a four times digital zoom that mostly fails to help improve the detail.
- Decent Audio: The audio works okay, with a slight delay, and the sound notification mode is useful if you keep getting false positives from the video sensor.
Cons of the Oco Wireless Security Cam
- Limited by Power Hardlines: The first issue with the Oco is that it isn’t really wireless (don’t you hate it when the leave the power lead out of the promo photos?). It comes with a USB power lead, which limits where you can place it and there’s no battery mode.
- Needs a Good Router/Network: Also, online connectivity can be very spotty, with regular drop offs from the Internet – something that gets worse the further it is from a router.
- Email Alerts Become Tiresome: That wouldn’t be so bad, but you get emails every time it goes up and down, and if you don’t have rock solid connectivity, that can add up to a lot of messages. Also some users report performance getting steadily worse over time, we’ll let you know how we get on with it in the months to come
- Still Working Out Issues with False Positives: You also get alerts when the Oco detects movement, which is by design. However, the Oco claims to use powerful cloud algorithms to sort out false positives, but as with most types of smart camera this seems to be a very immature technology. Some users resort to just using sound-based alerts which surely defeats the object of having a camera, but it can function as a neat backup.
- Some Delay for Real-Time: If you want to use it as a nanny cam, then there is often a few seconds of delay between parties to a conversation, but this is generally an issue with most home security cameras.
Final Recommendation – Is the Oco a Game Changer?
Last year, the Oco was around $140 and it is already down to $99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) in a highly competitive market, with special offers making it even cheaper and a bit of a bargain. I’ve been monitoring this page for pricing. If you want an ad hoc home security solution on a budget, then the Oco is approaching brilliant value, if you can live with the lack of full HD.
However, 720p does mean you can watch your home on your phone from anywhere and not eat up your data plan. So there’s pros and cons to this device, would the police be able to recognise a burglar if they came in at night?
Then there’s the extra cost of your cloud storage to consider, You can pay $39 for an entire year of cloud storage or $3.99 a month, using the app. The extra month of storage could be vital if you are away from home and it is essential if you want to get proper notifications.
So, if you’re looking for a casual security solution, then the Oco could be it, at around half the price of some 1080p rivals, if you shop around. It is pretty much perfect for monitoring one room, for someone who doesn’t stray far from home, otherwise the costs might see you head for a more advanced option.