About 6 weeks ago I received a Wisenet-SmartCam A1 as a review unit. The reason why I’m waiting so long to write this review is because I wanted to see if anything would go wrong. Too many times people write reviews just days or weeks after receiving a product, and their reviews are stellar. Then a month in, things fall apart and an update has to be written.
That was not this case here. I am the owner of a Canary system and needless to say, the SmartCam had a lot to live up to. I would say that in my opinion, it came out better overall. There was one area where it didn’t shine as brightly, but I’ll cover that a little later.
My first impression upon opening the box was that this cam was a solid product. Heavy, sturdy and in a dark grey color, it was attractive.
As old as I am, I was raised using and seeing these ugly wall mounted cameras that look like a police station surveillance camera, not that I know anything about that. The Canary was a welcome change from that aesthetic, but there was always a couple things I really didn’t like about it. First, it didn’t rotate and second, it didn’t have onboard recording. Everything was in the cloud.
Wisenet-Smartcam A1 cleaned up here. It has a rotating head that can actually come away from the base for use in other places and mounts onto any standard camera stand. Great for putting in the backyard (note: it isn’t weather resistant, and the manufacturer doesn’t recommend it to be used outdoors) while the youngster is exploring. This gives us the freedom to know he is safe, while giving him the freedom to explore without the nagging sensation that his loving helicopter parents are watching, which in fact we are.
The other really great feature was the ability to add onboard storage. We like the idea that our house is still being monitored, even if the wifi cuts out. Not that it happens all that often, but it is nice. As expected from a modern monitoring device, we are able to log in remotely from our phones anywhere we have cell service and see what is going on, and get a 360 view of the place.
One of the features was discovered by a friend of our that was dog sitting one weekend. My buddy called me up and told me, “Dude, your camera is possessed. It is rotating whenever I move around the house. It’s always watching me.” Apparently I had tracking turned on, and that made for a really cool surprise. I was able to disable the camera remotely, so he wasn’t under our surveillance, which made him more comfortable.
When it came to the phone app however it was – well, just fine. I could tell it wasn’t designed to be as clean as the canary app and there were ways to set up phantom cameras that didn’t exist. I ended up having to uninstall and reinstall and clear all my settings to remove the phantom camera. After I got a little more familiar with the software it wasn’t hard to set it up correctly, and the functionality for controlling the camera was pretty user friendly. Look, some companies really care about the software and user experience. Others just want to put out a functional program. Don’t get me wrong, the software was good, it just didn’t blow me away.
As for the video quality – well I thought it was really good. I am by no means an A/V juggernaut. I know what I like, and for a security camera, it really does the job. Details are crisp if you are in high quality, and you have the ability to record live video directly to your phone. This is great. I found that I get about 7 days worth of continuous recording in low quality, and just recently I changed to high quality, so I expect to get 2-3 days. We will see. I’m sure someone has the stats out there somewhere. I’m using a 64gb card, btw.
I ended up moving the Canary into the garage, which is nice actually. I always wanted a camera in there, but wasn’t willing to shell out the cash. The SmartCam A1 has taken it’s place inside the house. For us it just makes more sense. The 360 rotation was the 1 feature that makes so much sense for us to have swapped them out.
I’m not going to go into the specs. You can google all the specs and features, and there are tons of review on this product. In 6 weeks, we haven’t had any issues, aside from getting started with the phantom camera. There are a lot of options out there, and more seem to be coming out daily. I would say in my experience, this is a solid contender. My only advice – work on that software user experience from a software side of things, and you will have achieved a really phenomenal package.