Hands-On: Samsung’s WiFi SmartCam Security Camera
We spy on the SNH-1011, another very affordable WiFi security option.
There are a lot of companies out there looking to make security easier and less expensive. We have yet to come across a cheap monitoring service (and would you really want that?). However, if you’re willing to be the eyes and ears, there are several security camera options out there that can be used in conjunction with your smartphone and/or tablet.
The Samsung SNH-1011 WiFi IP SmartCam offers real-time video and audio monitoring from anywhere with a web connection. Just set it up anywhere in the house and you can view live feeds from Samsung’s SmartCam website or the company’s iOS and Android apps. This option also offers real-time sound and motion notifications, two-way audio and built-in IR LED lamps for night vision, all for $149.
With its size, price and list of features, this camera’s main competitors are Foscam and the DropCam HD. Unlike the latter, Samsung doesn’t offer any type of archiving or storage with the SmartCam—at least not directly. Instead, Samsung has partnered with iWatchLife, a company that offers cloud-based storage for SmartCam users. Currently, only the cameras available through iWatchLife work with the software. However, Samsung is working on expanding that lineup. Otherwise, the camera has built-in Picasa and YouTube integration, if you’re interested in uploading stills and 30-second clips. It also offers the option to share events through Twitter or an email account.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to use the cloud service. However, I spent plenty of time with the SmartCam and think that any sort of add-on could be a difficult sell for this camera. That’s because it’s so darn easy, it’s hard to imagine that anyone buying this would want to be bothered with add-ons. It’s certainly not essential, though; the SmartCam offers up plenty of interesting peeks, all on its own.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. The camera measures a mere 4,5 inches high and about 2 inches wide, making it easy to wedge into a shelf or cabinet. There’s also a mounting option, if needed.
To get the camera up and running, just attach the included power adapter to the camera and plug it into an outlet. You’re going to want to do this somewhere near your router, since the camera needs to be connected to that—just temporarily, though. Once you plug it in, it should take about a minute for the LED on the front to go from red to blue to green. From there, follow the camera’s Quick Start Guide to create an online account. For this process, you’re going to need the camera’s serial number, which is located on the back of the camera and the side of the box. Seriously, the whole thing takes all of five minutes.
Right off the bat, I received a message that the camera had a firmware update, which was very quick. If you want to use your WiFi network, that can be set up through your online account. Once you have that setup, you can unplug the camera and place it wherever you’d like.
A shot of my living room using the Samsung SmartCam.
Now, there’s one thing I found sort of annoying about Samsung’s website and iOS app. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you’re going to be asked to input the Private Key you were asked to establish. This is sort of like a password. I don’t know about you, but when I log into a site, I really only like to do it once—maybe twice if something is glitchy. Between the Wi-Fi setup, the software update and just setting up the account in general, I think that I typed this thing in six times. Well, I guess I’ll never forget it, at least!
To view streams through the website, you’re going to need to download a plug-in. Like the DropCam, the SmartCam has a few seconds of delay. However, once everything is set up, it’s insanely easy to receive images through the website and the app. The SmartCam also offer on-screen options for flipping the image, vertically and horizontally, adjusting the camera’s brightness levels, muting and un-muting audio, snapping a still, and sharing with the aforementioned Picasa, Twitter, YouTube and email options.
Using a side-by-side comparison to the DropCam, I found the SmartCam’s images to be more crisp and clear, with a wider shot of the room. This was a bit of a shocker, given the DropCam’s 720p capabilities. The SmartCam only offers a 640-by-480 resolution. However, I found the colors to be brighter and the images to be better looking overall.
That said, the DropCam does offer features that you won’t find on the SmartCam. The DropCam offers pan and zoom options, which is something that the SmartCam is lacking. If you see a little something moving on the SmartCam’s screen, there’s no way to zoom in.
Both the DropCam and the SmartCam are decent options, if you’re looking for a cheap, real-time security option. It’s nice to know that the house isn’t on fire and that no one is randomly helping themselves to your belongings. I did think that the SmartCam offered a better image, but the DropCam HD has storage (for a monthly fee) and features that allow you to scope out several parts of the room. Otherwise, the differences between the two cameras are almost negligible. And as long as you don’t expect ADT-style service, you’ll be pretty pleased with what either camera can do.
A shot of my living room using the DropCam HD.
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