One of the lovely benefits of living in a time of innovation and more accessible technology is that certain products, once available only to companies or individuals with big budgets, become available at price points that are affordable to nearly everyone. Such is the case with home monitoring cameras, one of which, ArcSoft’s Simplicam by Closeli, recently became available.
I borrowed one for a short test and was very impressed by many of the camera’s features. First, and foremost, it was incredibly easy to set up. All I had to do was download an app (available for both iOS and Android) and go through a simple three step process: press a “Set” button, enter my WiFi network’s login information, and show the camera a QR code that the app generates… and that’s it. I was up and running.
When I opened the app and logged in, I could watch from anywhere. And the 720p HD video is stunning — there’s so much detail in the 107º field of view (image is best when viewed on WiFi networks) and its 4X digital zoom beats anything else out there. On top of that, the 3.5 inch camera has a microphone and speaker so that I could communicate from my phone to the room where the camera is.
Settings allowed me to setup the camera so I was alerted whenever motion or sound is detected (it does a great job with both), and the camera has recording options where, for a fee, the video feed is continuously fed to the cloud, keeping a record of who visits a side door, comes in from the garage, or any other application I wanted to use the camera for. Facial detection, scheduled recordings, and video encryption are just some of the features that the Simplicam offers.
The camera also has a night vision ability, which is pretty nice, as you can see from the images, just above. However, you will want to be careful what the foreground is for the camera because, if it’s too reflective, it will kill the picture for the rest of the frame, as seen by clicking the second image, above.
My only wish is that I could hardwire the camera to a network so, in case of a power outage, the camera could easily reconnect to the network. As it stands now, if the camera is powered down, you have to go through the same connection procedure to get the camera going again, which wouldn’t work if you were out of town.
The Simplicam retails for $149 without recording, and a year’s plan for recording and storage will set you back another $50. The Simplicam has the easiest setup and best picture of any home monitoring I’ve seen so far and at a price that’s pretty cost-effective.