We get to
play with look at a lot of electronics at Ausdroid, recently we’ve had a lot of opportunities to check out security equipment. Swann makes a lot of this and Chris’ review of the 6 camera full HD DVR system says a lot about the quality of their range. But what if you don’t want to go the whole 9 yards on a hardwired DVR system, more some lower-level monitoring of your home or small business? Swann has you covered there too, we’ve previously looked at the Floodlight Security camera – Today we’ll look closer at some other options for indoors and out.
Swann Spotlight Outdoor Security Camera
The Swann Spotlight Outdoor Security Camera is the more complex of the two cameras to setup. It requires some planning for placement, mounting of the camera itself as well as running the power cable through to the device. The review unit took around 2 hours to set up fully while trialing a couple of potential positions.
In the box, you get the essentials in the box to mount, set up and manage your camera. All of the necessary hardware is there, including a very long power/PoE cable and power adaptor. There’s also an instruction booklet – honestly isn’t needed, but file it just in case – and theft-deterrent stickers.
Once the final location was decided – having been bitten in the past – I confirmed that the camera was fully functional before permanently mounting it to the carport. Pairing the camera to the app was extremely simple, once the camera was turned on within the app it’s a couple of easy steps:
- Scan the barcode of the camera to pair the camera to your account – this helps prevent camera theft
- Attach the camera to your wifi
- Setup the camera to your preferences
Clearly, it worked as expected and the mounting proceeded.
Compared to some of the cheaper options on the market, I’m hugely impressed with the lack of false triggers. Even mounted pointing into the driveway where there are multiple trees constantly moving, birds and possums in camera view regularly – there just weren’t any false notifications of people on camera which is very impressive. This is achieved by utilising the True Detect system, which requires motion and heat to trigger an alert.
Video feed and features
There’s a fairly extensive range of features on the spotlight camera. With the IP66 rating, the camera is designed to work outdoors in either covered or exposed locations. If you choose to run the camera indoors, the camera can be set to work in different light frequencies reducing flicker. You can also alter the microphone and speaker volume on the camera
Depending on the mounting orientation, you can flip or mirror the image to ensure that what you’re looking at via the app is correctly oriented. The video feed is 1080p so you’ll have a crisp and clear feed through to your chosen mobile device. It’s a good quality feed and has enough quality to be used for insurance if you’re unfortunate enough to need it.
As you would expect with any smart home or security options in the current market, the spotlight camera works with Google Assistant and Alexa devices. And should you see someone you don’t expect to be at your home or business, you can use the two-way audio to either find out what their business is or scare them away with a siren that can manually or automatically trigger.
Swann Indoor Security Alert Camera
The second and far simpler option that we’ve had some time with over the last couple of weeks is the Swann Indoor Security Alert Camera. It’s small, lightweight and discreet giving you a number of options on where you place the device.
It’s not an outdoor rated camera but will manage reasonably well if you’ve got an undercover area where you can simple place or mount it. Setup is very quick and super easy.
In the box, you’ll get the camera, power cable and adaptor, a quick start guide (the app will guide you through the process anyway), a full instruction booklet and theft-deterrent stickers.
With a camera like this one, access to power could be a deciding factor in where you place the camera. Of course, it’s not hard to get a longer MicroUSB cable – I tested multiple power supplies with long power cables, not just the supplied one – or have a power plug installed but its extra cost and inconvenience some users won’t want.
In the same app, you’ll find pairing the camera just as easy as the Spotlight Camera. Plug it in, scan the QR and follow the bouncing ball. Provided you have already set up the app, this won’t take more than a few minutes.
Video feed and features
The Alert Indoor camera is clearly intended to be an indoor monitoring system. The motion detection is reliable, but I have found notifications can be a little delayed coming through to your mobile device. There’s a lot of variables in this and given I’ve had instant notifications when I’ve had my phone active, I’m fairly confident it’s either network of phone OS variables that are causing the delays.
The quality of video for an indoor, relatively cheap camera is excellent. It’s – as the spotlight camera – a 1080p video feed that will be sufficient to identify people, hear the conversation and talk back to anyone who happens to be near the camera as well as seeing quite well in complete darkness thanks to the IR capability of the device.
Swann True Detect is implemented on this camera as well which gives some certainty to the notifications you get and also works with Assistant or Alexa to view your cameras on compatible devices.
Navigating the app
The Swann Security app is – for the most part – very well designed, easy to navigate and intuitive. It’s extremely easy to set up an account if you’re new to the Swann security ecosystem and very easy to learn to use.
It falls within the current standard of a bottom navigation bar where you’ll find Notifications, Playback, Live View and Settings. Each has an obvious link to the function of the app or your cameras.
You will also find a hamburger icon in the top left that opens a more granular menu listing. Some of the items in that are the same as the bottom navigation bar or other navigation options. The additional items here are the user profile, user manual, about info for the app, a support link and sign out button.
I found it more amusing than I should have to find that out of all of the additional features, the one that may be used is broken. The support button directed users to a webpage that doesn’t exist.
As part of the Swann Security system, whether it is a single camera or multi-camera setup you choose, you’ll end up with free recording capabilities. In this case, both cameras have a free recording that is stored for 7 days and the indoor camera has the capacity to record locally so (provided your camera doesn’t get stolen) even if your internet is down you can retrieve footage later.
The features are great, but not perfect
It’s worth noting that the Wi-Fi cameras from Swann are not compatible with their Desktop applications. While for the majority of users this isn’t going to matter at all, for users who have one of their DVR or NVR systems – it may be a deciding factor.
One problem I have with hardwired cameras vs battery powered is that if you lose power, you lose your surveillance. Some argue that you lose it with battery-powered cameras also, but if you have cameras with many there is local storage available on the device. It’s swings and roundabouts for sure.
The other issue I have with the Spotlight camera particularly is that the power connector for the camera can potentially be exposed to the elements (all well and good having a weatherproof camera, but if water gets in the power you’re stuffed anyway) and people disconnecting it to prevent visibility. You can put plenty of hurdles in their way, but the potential is there so think about your mounting location carefully.
Should you buy Swann Wi-Fi cameras?
This is a subjective question of course and my answer is more questions to you. Do you want a permanently recording solution? If you do, then you probably want to take a look at the Full HD DVR system. If you’re after a really budget solution then this probably isn’t for you either as there are far cheaper options around.
Swann is a well-known brand that has a reputation for delivering good quality hardware at an affordable price, they’ve delivered that here with the Spotlight Outdoor and Indoor Alert Cameras. So the Swann Wi-Fi security options offer easy to set up, easy to use and maintain systems that are going to meet the needs of most home users. The quality of the video is very good, the notifications – although a little delayed at times – are pretty quick and all through an app that’s easy to navigate. If I was looking for security hardware at this point in time, I wouldn’t hesitate to invest my money in Swann.
The Spotlight Outdoor security camera is available through multiple retailers at a retail cost of $189.95 and the Indoor Alert Camera is available through the same stores for $119.95
The spotlight camera is mounted to the side of the house, PR have not requested either item be returned after the review.