Belkin has been better known for its PC accessories, WiFi routers and other gadgets over the years, but the company clearly sees the smart home as an area it can profit from. With a range of lighting, automation and home security products for use around the home, under the WeMo banner.
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Key Features of the WeMo Camera
The WeMo NetCam HD+ WiFi model is the latest in the company’s range of smart looking cameras, available only in white that comes on a stable
For around $130 (check here for latest pricing), it features 720p HD wide-angle output and night vision mode, using WiFi to keep you up to date on what the baby, kids, pets or other occupants are doing, or to keep guard while you’re out of the house.
All you need to get the WeMo NetCam up and running is a smartphone app, there’s no need to go through a hub. But, if you want it to do more around your home, you can link it via If This, Then That to take control over a range of other devices.
If something untoward does happen in front of the camera’s gaze at day or night, with 8 infra-red LEDs, you can get sent an email, although we’d prefer a text message. You can then watch video of up to 25 frames a second, depending on network connection to see what’s happening.
There’s also a microphone built-in so you can hear what’s going on if the subject is out of sight and this latest model adds a speaker for two-way conversation. If something suspicious is happening, you can save the video to your phone.
Pros of the Belkin WeMo NetCam
- Installation: The WeMo NetCam is easy to install and use, with everything managed through the iOS or Android app for basic use. In just a few minutes you will be up and running. Unlike some models, it seems to work with pretty much every Android phone.
- Simple Settings: If you don’t need HD quality, then you can set it to operate at two lower resolutions, although how you’ll spot anything in 320*180 mode is anyone’s guess. Otherwise there aren’t any complicated settings to worry about, making this ideal for those who have trouble with their technology.
- Durable Lens: Hardware wise, the glass lens should be a bit more durable than a plastic one, but beyond the neat functional design, and optional wall mount there’s little to write home about.
Cons of the Belkin WeMo NetCam
- No Battery: The WeMo NetCam is mains powered, with no battery option, so it will need to be kept near a powerpoint, which may limit its utility. That also makes it useful in a powercut and any miscreant can just unplug to go about their business unseen.
- Limited Wide Angle View: While it claims to be wide angle, the horizontal view of just 95 degrees is far from the widest we’ve seen and since the camera can’t move, zoom or rotate, needs to be really well positioned to capture a typical room scene, given it needs to be near the mains.
- Only Basic WiFi: WiFi support is through the basic 802.11b/g/n, which is rather old-hat by today’s standards. It should be fine in most homes, but that could limit its range and performance in edge-of-reception cases. The only physical control on the camera is a reset button, which we’d hoped you’d never have to use – surely one of the aims of a smart camera is that it should never lock up.
- No Built-in Alarm: What the WeMo NetCam lacks is an alarm, so it is never going to make a security camera, or a speaker so you can communicate, making it useless as a nanny cam.
- Paid Cloud Service: Naturally, Belkin doesn’t just want to sell you a remote camera. Instead it wants to sell you a cloud service, so you can store your video off the phone. Belkin’s Cloud+ Premium Services comes with a complimentary 30-day subscription, but after that you’ll be paying a regular $10 monthly (or $100 annual) (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) fee to keep your video available, which is pretty essential if you want to use it as a security camera.
Final Recommendation – Does the WeMo Camera Work as Advertised?
There are a growing number of smart home cameras out there, from those focused on the security market, to those which claim to make it fun to keep an eye on your home.
It does a fine job of keeping an eye on a room under normal circumstances, but has little of the smarts of the NestCam or similar devices.
If you are on a budget then it will do the job, but if you want something that’s actually for the smart home, rather than just a cute gadget, there are plenty of options for not that much more money.
Ultimately, if you want something to keep an eye on one room, then this could be the cam for you, but there are plenty more advanced options if you need a multiple camera set up, or something to keep your home more secure.
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!