My search for a security camera has been going on for a while. We previously had some issues with things disappearing out of our garage so I was keeping my eye on a few different types of cameras knowing that I would get one when the price was right. The Nest camera seemed like the obvious choice because there is a lot of hype around their products, but I don’t think they are worth the cost. One of the other options was the Samsung SmartCam HD Pro Camera. This retails for a lot less than the Nest camera and is always on sale through Amazon, so don’t pay full price for it. The benefit of both of these was they integrated with my home automation service. Of course, there are many other cameras to choose from.
As I was browsing one of my favorite sites, Woot.com, I saw they had a refurbished Samsung SmartCam HD Pro Camera for $85 so I decided to give it a try. This is an indoor camera but since it would be up high in my garage, I wasn’t too concerned with that. It would be protected.
Unfortunately, when I received the package from FedEx, I was a little worried it was going to be broken. You can see from the picture the fine care that this package received. I am one that likes to get my product in its original packaging and take pride in opening it up but since I have purchased other refurbished products, I knew it wouldn’t be the same and it would come in generic packaging. Luckily for me, and FedEx, the product was in good condition after opening the box.
Getting the camera installed was really easy. The camera came with all the items needed to hang it. The mount has a plate that snaps off and using the anchors and screws it went up really quick. It also comes with an adhesive to mount it. Then the camera itself snaps on over the plate. I installed the camera above my door in the garage and with the outlet being closer to the ground the cord was long enough to reach it. I had previously added an outlet for power in the location I needed for the automated garage door opener I installed. I was able to plug in the cord and then tuck the cord under some trimming to run it up to the camera. This allowed me to hide the cord and keep it out of the way.
The instructions sent were pretty minimal and basically instructed me to download the app. You need to create an account and login to get to the setup process. I’ll talk about the look and functionality of the app in a moment but regardless of how it looks, I was able to get it set up. The basic process was pushing a button on the back of the camera to get it in setup mode. Then setting the wifi on your mobile device to the name of your camera, allowing them to pair and establish the network on the camera. Once that is complete you can go in and make some additional setting adjustments.
The app’s look and functionality are horrible. I don’t know how else to say it. Yes, you can get the camera working and use the app but you feel like you are stepping back time to 2007. When I need to use the app I want to quickly do what I need to and get out. The problem is that you can’t quickly do what you need to. One of the great features is the two-way talk. If I want to use it here is the list of steps:
- Open the app and wait for it to log in.
- Select the camera you want to use. In my case, there is only one.
- Tap the screen to get the menu bar to display
- Tap the icon to turn it on, wait for it to load.
By this time the situation has passed and whoever you were going to talk to might be gone. Overall, the app isn’t intuitive and without spending the time to explore what everything does, it is hard to know how to use it.
At first, I thought the SD card was a bad idea, one more thing I had to purchase to fully use the camera. Since I’ve been using it, I really like the idea behind it. You are able to store video and images to your mobile device but the SD card allows you to save more recordings and not worry about space. The system is smart enough to store the videos and then overwrite the oldest ones as the card gets full. After setting up my Ring video doorbell and having to rely on a subscription to store my video, I’m grateful to have the SD card capability.
There are a lot of great features with this camera. Like I mentioned above, the two-way talk is a great feature. The 3 motion zones that you can set up are a great feature and a must have on any security camera. Even though you can only create three square sections, it still gives you the flexibility to only monitor certain areas.
The video quality has been great and you can change the resolution that you want it to be, up to 1080p. The night vision has also been fine.
Of course, my favorite feature is the integration with my home automation system, SmartThings. Within the SmartThings app, I can get a live view of the camera, which really isn’t much. You do lose out on the great features like two-way audio but it you want to quickly check the camera, this provides a better experience. The power of the integration comes when you set up rules. I have it set up to record during certain times when there is movement. When that happens, I can quickly go into SmartThings to view the clip of when the motion happened. I could go into the camera’s app to do this but you can’t set up the specific rules around it.
I’m hoping that one day Samsung will allow us to use all the features of the camera within the SmartThings app. They are both Samsung products so hopefully, they are thinking this way.
One thing to mention is that the integration within the SmartThings platform is a beta feature and Samsung tells us when it comes out of beta, it will be a premium feature and we’ll have to pay for that functionality. If and when this happens, I’m sure I’ll get to be more familiar with the camera’s main app since I’m not inclined to purchase the premium features through SmartThings. Just something to keep in mind.
It is a great device and has worked well for my needs. I have been using the device for about 4 months and wanted to give a review once I had been using it for awhile. The device itself is nice looking and would look great in a home. For the price I paid, it has been well worth it. I would recommend this camera but don’t pay full price for it, it is usually on sale.
Just an update. After checking the SmartThings website for devices that connect to their platform, the Nest camera is no longer listed. Neither is the Nest thermostat.