How We Chose an Affordable Smart WiFi Home Security Camera

  • Post category:Tech
  • Post comments:0 Comments

We have been thinking of buying a smart home security camera for a while now. Most smart home security cameras tend to come with a hefty price tag. We wanted a smartcam that was affordable and under £30 or so.

We also wanted a camera that comes with a useful app and decent free cloud storage as standard. And we think we found the right camera that ticked all the boxes! In this post, we will take you through our criteria for a smart cam, features and finally review of the smartcam we finally decided to go for – Neos Smartcam home security camera. 

Key must have features in a smart home security camera

If you run a quick search, you will find that the web is flooded with hundreds of options. One wouldn’t even know where to start. So here’s our handy list of features we wanted in our smart home security camera below. Hopefully, this will help you in your search too. 

Must have features in a smartcam – 

Motion and sound detection – so the camera doesn’t record continuously, but only records events triggered by movement or sound.
Good video quality – We wanted the camera to be full hd (1080p) atleast
Live stream functionality – An accompanying app with option to view a live stream of the camera from anywhere
Clear night vision – good night vision capability
Decent free cloud storage – Most smart camera apps require you to sign up to a subscription model where you pay to have your clips stored for remote access. We wanted a camera that has a decent free storage allowance for clips and had a longer expiry length for the cilps.
Camera angle – atleast 110 degrees field of view with wide lens

Nice to have features in a smartcam – 

Two way audio – Live audio stream + you can talk from your phone to transmit your voice through inbuilt speakers in the camera. Ideal for both indoor and outdoor setup i.e. if you needed to talk to your pet, or someone at the door if you are not at home
SD card slot – Important so you can store continuous recording in the card without having to pay for cloud storage subscription.
Weatherproof – If you needed to install the camera outside i.e. by your front door / back garden
Alexa integration – So you can access the camera with our Amazon Alexa enabled devices

NEOS-smart-home-security-wifi-camera-details-techlifediy
Our NEOS Smartcam home security camera

Why we chose NEOS smart home security camera

The main reason why we decided to go for NEOS smartcam was the fact that it came with free cloud storage for video clips. The whole design of the product seemed to revolve around ease of use and setup too. There were no gimmicky features, the app seemed quite easy to navigate. NEOS also seemed to incorporate most of the must have features that come with most other higher end smart home security cameras but at a very affordable price point. 

At the time of writing this post, you could buy NEOS smartcam from Amazon – you can visit the listing on Amazon here

How we installed the NEOS smart home camera

We wanted the camera to be positioned in such a way so that it captures our car in the driveway + our front door. We first put the camera on the window sill in our downstairs lounge facing outwards. It worked well during the day time, however, at night, the infrared reflection from window glass was obstructing the view.

Therefore, we decided to fix the camera outside next to our front door. We have a small porch outside our front door, so this meant that the camera was shielded from the elements. Please note, NEOS smartcam isn’t waterproof or built specifically for outdoors. 

How-we-installed-our-Neos-smartcam-home-security-camera-techlifediy.com
How we installed our NEOS smartcam home security camera

The NEOS camera comes with a magnetic disc that attaches to the wall with adhesive stickers provided in the box. The base of the camera then attaches to the magnet on the wall as shown in the picture above. 

The camera comes with 1.8m USB cable and a wall plug. We had a small hole on the wall from an old phone line, so we simply routed the cable into our house through that and plugged it into a socket which happened to be near the front door conveniently.

Review of the NEOS smartcam IOS app:

The app seems quite intuitive and easy to use. The free version of the app records upto 12 seconds per event that is triggered by motion / sound. Up to 1 hour of recording will be stored per day for up to 14 days. This was plenty for us as we only needed to be alerted for motion / sound events and didn’t really require longer clips.

You have the option to upgrade to Neos Boost subscription which comes with upto 12 hours of recording per day. And the maximum duration per recording is 1 min vs 12 seconds on free membership.

On the boost subscription, you can also set security zones within the frame so the camera isn’t triggered for all movements but on certain areas of the frame i.e. a door handle perhaps or just one section of your driveway.

Here’s a few screenshots from the NEOS smartcam app:

NEOS-app-home-screen-techlifediy.com-neos-smart-cam-review
NEOS smartcam IOS app – homescreen

The homescreen of the app shows you a list of cameras you have and a snapshot of the camera view. You can select the camera you want to view from here by tapping on it and then it will take you to the live feed screen as below:

NEOS-app-live-stream-screen-techlifediy.com-neos-smart-cam-review
NEOS smartcam IOS app – live feed screen

In this screen, you are able to see a live feed of the camera. You will also be presented with a calendar style option of all the events that were recorded in the camera for the past 14 days. I find this way of categorising recorded videos very intuitive as it is much easier to navigate. By selecting the day you want to look into rather than being presented with a few hundred clips at once makes it much simpler to use.

NEOS-app-settings-techlifediy.com-neos-smart-cam-review
NEOW smartcam IOS app – settings screen

The settings options in the NEOS smartcam app is quite extensive and felt more than adequate for the price point on offer.

Here’s a list of options in the settings section of the NEOS home security camera:

Night vision on / off / auto
Timestamp
Status light
Image rotation (flips the recording upside down if mounted on the ceiling)
Motion tagging (highlights motion in the recording with a green box to show exactly what triggered the camera)
Notifications:
You can adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection and also noise detection.

What other smart home security cameras did we look into?

As mentioned earlier, we wanted a camera that was under £30 or so. Here are a few other smart cameras we looked in to which were equally as good and some were priced slightly higher but still under £50.

The Blink Mini offered all the standard features that you’d expect from a smart wifi camera i.e. 1080p video recording, night vision, motion and sound detection, two way audio etc. However, it seemed that you will have to buy a Blink Subscription Plan which was £2.50/month per camera at the time of writing this post for cloud video storage.

Blink also didn’t have SD card slot and you need to buy Blink Sync Module to record and store video clips locally.

Another great contender in our list was TP Link Tapo C100 smat wifi camera. The pricing point was very reasonable and it had all the standard features you may want in a smart home security camera. One key feature in TP Link Tapo C100 was that it comes with sounds and lights alarm. So this means that not only will the camera send notifications to you when motion is detected but it can also trigger lights and sounds as an alarm.

Zone control was another key feature where you can specify trigger zones within the frame. This comes as standard with TP Link Tapo C100 vs for NEOS smartcam, you have to pay for a subscription to avail this option.

However, the only deciding factor against TP Link Tapo C100 was that it didn’t offer free basic cloud storage like NEOS did.

If you are not bothered by basic free cloud storage, then TP Link Tapo C100 is definitely the better choice.

Summary:

All in all, we are quite happy with our NEOS smartcam as it does exactly what we needed – a simple smart camera that logs events throughout the day. We wanted something to keep recording throughout the night to keep an eye on our car as well as our front door and this camera does just that. The free cloud storage that comes with the camera serves its purpose quite well for an average home user too.

I hope you found this article useful. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions and I will be more than happy to answer. Thanks and speak soon!

Leave a Reply