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The unfortunate truth facing many smart cameras available on the market today is that they are poor examples of what we should expect from our modern technology devices. Many companies have joined this arena as a chance to grab market share among those obsessed with smart home security.
Fortunately, TP-Link’s Kasa Cam is not one of these devices. When it comes to smart cameras, this device ranks at or near the top. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as TP-Link is well-known for developing some of the best networking components available, including its home router.
Let’s take a few minutes to determine how the TP-Link Kasa Cam stacks up against its competition, and where it could use some tweaking.
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Features and Description
To start with, this isn’t TP-Link’s first venture into the wireless camera world. It is, however, its first smart home camera. What does that mean? For TP-Link, it means a great user experience, enhanced security features, cloud integration, and a smartphone interface. TP-Link is of the opinion that smart devices should be easy to use, not complicated or complex for users.
With the camera, you’ll see a quick-start guide and some parts. Of note is that it does not come with a manual, which is becoming more and more common as the manual is typically located somewhere within the mobile application. It would be nice to have a way to determine basic functionality without downloading the app, but that doesn’t mean it’s not easy to use.
In the box, you’ll discover a camera, a wall mount, a power adapter, and a white micro-USB cable. The adapter is white, which makes it look sleek and clean; however, it clashes a bit with the Kasa Cam itself, which is a glossy black. Fortunately, if you don’t like the white cable, you can easily substitute it with your own black cable.
The drawback with the adapter is that it sticks out quite a bit from the wall. This is the case with many smart home devices, so it’s not fair to single out the TP-Link Kasa Cam, but it’s still a problem since many outlets hide behind furniture. This is especially frustrating since the camera is designed to blend in or be put on furniture.
TP-Link’s Kasa Cam offers a wide-angle lens with a view of 130-degrees. This means you’ll get plenty of coverage even though you don’t have the tilt or pan functionality that many smart cameras include. You can, however, manually tilt the camera so you can point it where you need it to be to give you the best viewing angle.
You can mount your Kasa Cam on the wall if that works better for you, and the camera offers both motion and sound triggers. If the device does sense one or the other, you’ll receive a notification. Additionally, the camera will immediately begin recording, so you can see exactly what set off the trigger.
This functionality is helpful in the event that either the motion or the sound isn’t strong enough to trip the sensor. For instance, if the camera hears glass breaking in the room, but the camera isn’t pointed at the window, at least you’ll be alerted to the problem. This feature is turned off by default, but a quick jaunt into the settings gives you the ability to turn it on.
Like many smart cameras, the TP-Link Kasa Cam has a subscription-based storage option for its users. If you plan on running your camera 24/7, you might consider one of the tiers available. There are only two tiers available with the TP-Link Kasa Cam. The first tier offers two weeks worth of storage, while the second provides 30 days of backup.
However, you aren’t required to pay for storage space. With its Kasa Care feature, TP-Link gives its users the ability to store footage for free as long as the clip is less than one GB. This is nice to have so you don’t have to concern yourself with whether or not you have enough space for your recordings. TP-Link has not yet addressed how multiple cameras will be treated. It remains to be seen if the cost will be the same to integrate additional devices or if another camera costs another month of subscription fees. The Kasa Cam is 100% cloud storage, so there’s no local option available. This is a much more user-friendly option and avoids a lot of confusion as to where exactly your data is stored.
You want a smart camera that provides security to your home, but what about cybersecurity with your camera? Fortunately, TP-Link is no stranger to networking, so it gave the Kasa Cam 128-bit encryption rather than relying solely on your router. This security serves as another safeguard to protect your camera from being hacked.
To get started with your TP-Link Kasa Cam, the first thing you’ll want to do is download the mobile app. It’s available on both the Apple and Android marketplaces, but make sure you find the Kasa app for use with the Kasa Cam. TP-Link has many apps available, and it won’t do you any good to choose the wrong one.
You may have some difficulty with having the app find your camera, however, if it doesn’t succeed with the first few tries, change to manual mode. Typically this results in the app finding the camera in no time. Overall the setup process was pretty quick and painless.
One drawback of the TP-Link Kasa Cam that exists on all smart cameras is the need to hard reset the device in order to change the wireless network. Given the quality of the application and its ability to communicate with the device, it’s a surprise that smartphone manufacturers haven’t figured out a way to solve this problem.
If it’s not the first smart camera to support 802.11 ac, it’s on the first. Streaming is limited to 433 Mbps; however, that’s plenty fast enough for a smart camera. Even if you have to place your Kasa Cam quite aways from your router, you should have no problems with buffering or bandwidth related slowdowns.
The mobile application is relatively straightforward; however, the user interface can be busy at times. This is a direct result of the fact that TP-Link’s Kasa application supports more than just the camera. It also supports other TP-Link devices like their switches and light bulbs. There is some confusion since these options are available even when no other components are connected.
First glance at the application interface reveals pretty basic options. You’ll notice both a schedule and Hold to Talk button. The schedule button takes you to a screen that lets you turn the Kasa Cam off and on when you need to. Unfortunately, the schedule option doesn’t do much else, although it would be nice if it did.
Of course, the Hold to Talk button does exactly what you think it would. If you need to address the person on the camera directly – whether it’s to let them know you’ve alerted the authorities or to provide direction or instruction – you open the app and press Hold to Talk.
Granted you bought a smart camera to see things, not talk to people, and one of the most prominent features available with the TP-Link Kasa Cam is the ability to watch recorded video. The vast majority of users are going to be interested in knowing when their package was dropped off or what’s going on within their home, so video capability is essential.
The interface you’ll use for viewing stored video can be a challenge, but it gets the job done when needed. You can filter and sort videos by date and time, and once you find the content you’re looking for, you can either watch it right then or download it so you can view it later.
Keep in mind that like many smart cameras on the market, the TP-Link Kasa Cam does not have a Mac or PC interface. You’ll only be able to view a feed or download content on your smartphone or tablet.
Smart Assistant Integration
One especially nice feature available with the TP-Link Kasa Camis its ability to integrate with Amazon devices. It’s especially helpful to be able to use Amazon’s Echo Show to watch the live stream. For instance, if you have a small child, you can use it as a visual monitor, or you can use it to find out who’s at your door.
You’ll have to enable this functionality in your Alexa app, which you wouldn’t know about through the TP-Link Kasa application. If you’re familiar with Alexa’s skills capabilities, you shouldn’t have any trouble with setting it up.
TP-Link has done a fantastic job of cut down the latency on its Kasa Cam to almost zero. Accessing a live feed through the mobile application is quick and painless. You can get to one in just a few seconds where other smart cameras can take much longer.
The 1080p quality of the feed is above par, and the Kasa Cam delivers on what it says. Others boast great quality, but can’t back it up. The Kasa Cam gives its users a great picture and a superb clarity when viewing the feed in night mode.
You won’t be unhappy with the performance of the TP-Link Kasa Cam. In addition to all its great features, the camera also supports USB-based charging packs similar to one you might use when your cell phone battery is running low. It’s probably not ideal for everyday use, but it might come in handy when you’re unable to locate an outlet when you need one.
As you can see the TP-Link Kasa Cam has plenty of features and benefits for anyone looking to make their smart home safer. Let’s take a quick overview of some of the most prominent ones.
- Recording triggered anytime motion or sound is detected.
- Crystal-clear night vision capability up to 25 feet.
- Create specific zones, so you get alerts when you need them most.
- Amazon Alexa integration gives you the ability to control your camera with your voice.
- Secure recordings with AES-128 bit encryption along with SSL/TLS protection.
- 24/7 live video stream.
- 130-degree wide-angle view.
- 1080p resolution with vibrant colors.
- Built-in microphone with two-way audio gives you the ability to keep in touch with family.
The TP-Link Kasa Cam is an excellent option for a stand-alone camera if you need a device to help monitor your home. A few issues keep this smart camera from being perfect, but that’s the case with any device. The biggest question is why TP-Link hasn’t made its camera a component in its own smart home system.
It’s puzzling why the company has yet to integrate the Kasa Cam into its own ecosystem. Users could create a trigger that turns on light switches and bulbs when the camera senses motion or detects sound. It only makes sense that the two should work together.
Aside from that piece of intrigue, the Kasa Cam is a reliable, dependable option for anyone that needs a simple-to-use camera. It will give you peace of mind, and you don’t have to worry about paying a monthly fee to use it. If this sounds like you, then the TP-Link Kasa Cam might be the right smart home camera for you.
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!