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Samsung has been producing smart home devices for a couple of years now, since its acquisition of SmartThings (link to website) for around $200 million.
However, now the reality of smart homes, and the use cases are becoming clear, the South Korean company is ramping up the awareness as it tries to become a serious part of the intelligent home market.
The SmartCam was one of those original products but is still worth looking at for its superior features, local storage, and extra-wide angle lens.
It also has a more stylish look than many devices and works out of the box with Samsung’s SmartThings Hub (link to review), and with multi-camera support can provide a flexible set up for your home monitoring needs.
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Key Features of the Smart Cam HD Pro
- Video Quality: First up for this camera is the full 1080p output for crystal clear video and photos of whatever is going on in your home, from pet to nanny cam, or just keeping an eye out.
- Audio: It also comes with a microphone and speaker built-in, so you can talk to your pet or family member.
- Sensor: The Samsung has an effective ½.8 inch Sony CMOS sensor that absorbs plenty of light to help capture detail whatever the ambient lighting.
- Software: There’s also some clever Samsung software on board, namely a light enhancer and Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) to improve its vision further.
- Monitoring: Monitoring can be done on an iOS or Android app, with support for streaming from up to 10 cameras. However, even on a PC you can only view one at a time, so you can’t create your own control room style view of all angles. The device offers four times zoom to the mobile apps and up to 10 times zoom on a PC.
- Connection: It connects over WiFi or SmartThings to communicate with your smart home and there’s a green LED to show it is connected, with other colors showing various status conditions.
Pros for the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro
- Video Quality: With a high quality output and 128 degree ultra-wide angle coverage, the Samsung provides a great quality image, with the maximum possible angle, short of buying a tilting model. With some clever positioning, you can easily capture all the key points of a room with one of these models.
- Memory Capacity: Perhaps the best feature is the SD memory card slot, at the bottom of the device, allowing users to record up to 64GB of footage locally. Of course, if you’re using this to prevent or detect crime, then the unit needs to be well hidden.
- Lighting: The WDR lighting feature means you should get good images, even if there’s bright light outside or low light inside, and its night mode is pretty efficient too. It supports dual band WiFi to help send the highest quality video.
- Well Maintained Apps: Ironically, for an Android-focused company, the iOS app seems more stable than the Android version, but with regular updates to both that might not be a problem for long. Also, while the software in the camera has motion sensing capabilities, they can be a bit hit and miss. However, if you use SmartThings products, then you can easily link to the official motion sensor for more accurate performance.
- Decent Audio Quality: While the audio quality is pretty good when chatting using the device, there is a small delay, but that happens with most devices, and they often have far worse sound. There’s also a one year manufacturer’s warranty should something go wrong with the SmartCam
Cons for the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro
- Paid Storage: Now that the device has been on a market a while, it has moved its video storage feature from beta to a premium one, meaning users need to pay $4.99 a month to store them. That’s not a lot for the feature, and comparable to some other cameras, but for a giant like Samsung, something of a cheeky card to play. Of course, you can either use the SD card port, or if you do have home network storage, you can stream and record videos to those devices.
- Finicky WiFi: As with many other cameras we have covered, there are repeated reports of the Samsung SmartCam HD dropping and losing its WiFi connection which can be annoying at best and critical if it fails at the worst time. The camera supports 1920×1080, 1280×720 and 640×360 resolutions so can broadcast depending on network conditions.Multiple firmware updates have failed to solve this, so either ensure you have rock solid WiFi or perhaps look elsewhere. If you do have WiFi problems, there is an Ethernet port you can connect it to, but that further limits the placement options.
- Base a Bit Too Light: One final quibble is that the base could be a bit larger or heavier, as the camera is pretty bulky. That also makes it harder to put somewhere discreet, as it requires constant power. There is a wall mounting option through tape or screws, if that will help.
Final thoughts on the SmartCam
The Samsung is a solid-looking and performing camera and is at a premium price point (For the latest prices and discounts, check here), but it still feels like you are getting a bargain. Of course, you have to add in an SD memory card if you want local storage, so add in another $20 for a typical 64GB card.
For users wanting to capture fun home moments, it is pretty much ideal, while those with more pressing security needs might want to consider a set of these cameras to capture angles from any home weakspot. It is certainly not a full security system, but there is still plenty of flexibility on offer.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!