I’ve had a few Wi-Fi-connected cameras for testing over the years, and while having a live view into your home can provide a level of safety and security, they’ve always felt like early adopter devices, requiring a little extra work to setup and use. At least they have up to now.
The Omna 180 HD camera from D-Link has turned the corner from interesting techie gadget to useful household appliance. It’s dead-simple to set up and access, and as an Apple HomeKit device, it promises both security and interactivity.
Note: this all assumes you have both a 4th-generation AppleTV and an iPhone or iPad connected to your home network, and have already done the basics to setup HomeKit. Yes, iOS is a closed ecosystem, and there are solid arguments to be made against that. However, the easy integration and functionality of devices like the Omna prove the other side of that argument: a controlled, carefully developed ecosystem means things work easily and effectively.
Setup goes like this: plug the Omna 180 HD camera into the power outlet near where you’re going to keep it. Wait for the power light to come on and indicate it’s ready. Download and install the Omna app on your iOS device. Open the app, hit the “+” to add the device. You find the device on the list, take a picture of the sticker on the back of the device with your phone/tablet camera, and voila’–it’s on the network and part of your HomeKit accessories.
Once that’s done, you can access the camera either from the Omna app or from your Home app with a couple taps. The big selling point of the Omna 180 HD cam is the 180-degree field of view, meaning if it’s sitting on a shelf, you can see a room from one end to the other. As you can tell from the image above, there’s a bit of squishing to the field of view, but the effect works. The 1080p video is sharp and colorful, and it delivers the highest frame rates I’ve ever seen when viewing via the internet (there’s also a night mode that lets you see in the “dark”). Plus, you get sound, and you can even talk back through the device to anyone (person or pet) who happens to be in the room. If you use a micro SD card, you can also automatically record!
And here’s a crazy one: if you have an Apple Watch, the camera will automatically be accessible via the Home app there as well. While the frame rate is pretty low (video is being delivered from your phone via Bluetooth LE), it actually works. You can hear what’s going on in the room as well. So if you set up an alert when motion is detected, you can just pop the camera up on your watch and check when the kids get home from school, or whatever. Since it’s integrated with HomeKit, you can also set up activities based on the motion detection in the camera, like turning on any lights that are on your Home network as well.
My bottom line is that if you’ve been thinking about getting a Wi-Fi camera, and you have an Apple household, the Omna 180 HD cam is great. It delivers on the promise of HomeKit-integrated devices in its easy setup, ease-of-use, and because HomeKit has some of the strongest security available in consumer devices (256-bit AES encryption is just scratching the surface), you don’t have to be worried that the neighbors will be able to see your camera feed like you can hear their baby monitor. I can honestly say that, if I hadn’t been sent one as a review unit (and I knew what I know without having reviewed it), this is the connected camera I’d want to buy.