We have mentioned many times in the past that we highly enjoy discussing smart home solutions as there is nothing like having your house talk to you (keeping in mind that “talk” can mean many things). One of the ways this is possible is by keeping an visual eye on what goes on while you’re away. Doing so takes a good camera that you can rely on, because nobody wants a fuzzy image that you can’t make anything out with and of course a solid connection that isn’t going to drop out causing any loss of visual analytics.
You can buy into a camers that fits into a massive network of things, or you can buy something that is self-sustaining that uses it’s own very app without the need of additional bridges, brains or other forms of accessories. This is where Remocam comes into play. Remocam is a self-sustainable smart home camera solution that doesn’t need anything else to get started outside of itself.
It all starts when you take the camera out of the box and plug it into the wall. After about 10 seconds or so, it will say “Welcome to Remocam!” and you are ready to start settings things up. There is nothing else in the box besides a camera, a wall (power) adapter and some basic instructions. Your next step is to download the Remocam app from the iOS or Android app store to your smartphone device and use it to register for a Remocam account (free). Once the app is installed and opened, it will ask you a few questions about your network. Upon answering these questions, it will present you with a QR code on the screen and you simply hold the phone up to the camera within 5-8 inches or so. The camera will scan the QR code after a series of seconds and tell you that it is configuring–the phone will say something similar. This basically passes on the network information to the camera without you ever having to configure anything manually.
Once you have done all of that, the camera will now display in your app, where you can name the camera and customize it further. You can set up pop notifications, enable motion sensor, adjust sensitivity, chose to save to the cloud or an SD card inserted into the back of the camera, orientation, pan and tilt, image quality and so forth.
A nice feature for this camera is that you can control zones within the image to monitor vs the entire area. These are called motion areas. So if you want to avoid lower areas for example that are frequented by pets, you can focus on the area above that so it only picks up larger objects (ie, humans) moving around. Kind of reminds me of an app I used to play with a long time ago called Zone Trigger (an app that does something similar for webcams).
From the app, you can also listen in on what the camera hears as well as talk through it using your phone’s mic. There is also an option to trigger a siren noise to go off from the camera, although it isn’t that loud (also sounds like a police siren vs an alarm system, which may not deliver the right dramatic impact). You can of course choose to snap a picture or take a video using the app manually and it offers a live view of the screen and shows you all connected cameras.
Talking about all connected cameras, adding additional cameras is even easier as you already have the app ready to go. All you have to do is chose to add a camera and it will of course give you another barcode and you repeat this for all cameras you buy into.
The Remocam offers a nice 720p display that delivers a crisp image giving you all the details you’d need in a security camera. As mentioned in our video below, it doesn’t offer anything breathtaking like 4K, but at the moment, 4K isn’t really a concern when it comes to security cameras (nor the budget people are looking to invest into). You are looking to get obvious details about who is in frame, but not necessarily how many wrinkles exist on their forehead. Both images and video are taken are equivalent to most decent 720p camers on the market.
Audio being sent to and from the camera is average as well. It isn’t going to stream in 320kbps or anything, but your voice can be clearly heard on both sides (more so from the speakers on the camera than the speaker on your phone).
Another neat feature to focus on, is the fact that the camera can talk to devices within its reach that are controlled by IR (infrared). This means that devices like your TV can be turned on by the camera. It has an IR blaster and receiver built-in so that it can learn commands from various remote controls. So maybe you want to use the camera as a motion sensor in a game room that automatically turns on the TV and soundbar (or system) when someone walks in. This is a unique feature that we haven’t seen yet built into a camera, so two thumbs up for being original.
Remocam, as a company, will be offering additional devices that the camera can interact with either directly or using the IR function. These devices include a wireless doorbell video solution and lightbulbs.
On the bottom of the camera there is a tripod thread insert in case you want to mount it somewhere using a tripod mount driven solution. There is also an adjustable mount that you can purchase separately to get the right angle with. A lot of similar cameras (like Foscam) come with this mount by default, but Remocam’s will cost you a little extra. Thankfully, it’s only $5, which isn’t that much.
On the backside of the camera, there is a SD slot for internal storage of media taken by the camera. This gives you plenty of space to be able to store all that information with. Removing the SD card, you can insert it into any computer to view the information from.
Cloud storage is your option of recording images and video off-site. This is important as for true security, you don’t want to limit yourself to recording locally to a drive source that an intruder could simply walk away with. For example, most of us here have smart home systems setup in our homes. All of which practice off-site recording of the information (usually to a personal server of sorts). This means, even if an intruder unplugs and runs off with the camera, all recorded information up till that point has also been saved elsewhere so that you can access it and catch them in the act.
The only trouble to that is not every off-site option is free, and this is true with the Remocam. Remocam offers their own cloud solution, which includes multiple tiers: 3GB/3 days ($3.99), 30GB/7 days ($7.99) and Unlimited/30 days ($29.99). So if you were to go with the smallest package, you would get 3GB of space that hold onto recorded information for up to 3 days from the time of upload (each image or video). There is a giant leap in price from 30GB to unlimited account, but most users will probably opt for the 30GB account anyway (unless say, the camera(s) is for a vacation home that isn’t frequented very often). This is unfortunate as a lot of camera off you to customize your cloud solution, in case you have one of your own. So using the Remocam, if you want to save off-site, you have to use Remocam’s cloud option. Hopefully they consider adding to this feature in the future to expand your choices and open themselves to a wider target audience.
There is no scripting available, so you will have to arm/disarm the camera(s) manually via the app each time. You can’t cheat using a 3rd party system since the Remocam is not accessible outside of the Remocam app. This means no browser access via a computer. You have to use the app for all interaction. Maybe in the future, they can open the API a little so that other systems could add the camera as an IP-accessible camera. Locally, we have wireless cameras all over the place (big brother is always watching us!!). The Remocam however can’t jump onto that bandwagon as it will always be accessed separately, making it a lonewolf currently with an additionally required app to anything else we use to manage everything with. This is fine if each office/room wants to use their own platform, but not so much for a home scenario that already has smart home solutions scattered about. We’d like to see 3rd party integration in the future that includes solutions like Z-Wave, IFTTT and so forth.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about WiFi strength. In our tests, WiFi strength seemed to be in the middle somewhere. The camera couldn’t be taken too far from the router/source. You will want to most likely keep is close (like within 50-60ft close) to your router with minimal to no walls in between. Maybe this will be tweaked in future firmware updates, but for now it does not work well at longer distances. We also found the siren would cut off when used if you have poor cellular signal (maybe WiFi strength played into this a little as well). This tells us that the siren is actually coming from the app and not directly built into the camera. At times during testing, we would lose connection to the camera when viewing it, talking through it or using the siren.
The Remocam is super easy to setup and begin using. We found that the QR step of adding the camera to your network doesn’t always work out the first time. If this happens to you, you would want to use the reset button on the bottom and try again (this may require deleting the camera from the app if the app thinks it added successfully but the camera isn’t responding). It moves quietly when adjusting its direction. Audio and image quality is right where it needs to be. The IR remote feature is really neat as it adds something new to the camera market. We just felt that 1) the optional mount should come with it by default, 2) they should open the cloud solution to using your own FTP or alternative cloud source (because the true geek audience will most likely be using their own solution already); and 3) open the camera itself up via API to 3rd party usage so that it can absorb into wider smart home setups that you may already be running.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- 720p HD Resolution
- Live Feed Video Streaming
- Infrared Night Vision
- Cloud Storage Plans
- Local Storage (microSD card)
- 2-Way Communication
- Siren Alarm
- Emergency Calls
- Snap Pictures & Videos
- Digital Zoom, Pan 335? & Tilt 95?
- 256-Bit AES Encryption
- Motion Sensor
- Push Notifications
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.