LiftMaster myQ Smart Garage Camera review: The magnetic mount is nifty. The price tag? Not so much

myQ needs to revisit its service plan prices to make this garage-centric camera more appealing.

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LiftMaster

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At a Glance

The Chamberlain Group—which owns the Chamberlain and LiftMaster brands as well as the myQ smart home product line—has extended its top-shelf garage door opener with another “smart garage” essential: a Wi-Fi camera that integrates with the myQ ecosystem.

Conceptually, the device works pretty much like any other Wi-Fi security camera. Mount the camera and point it at what you want to monitor, pair it to your network (both 2.4- and 5GHz networks are supported), and connect to the camera via the myQ app. You don’t need to have a myQ smart garage door controller installed (and the myQ camera doesn’t interact with the myQ controller at all); but if you do, your camera feed will appear directly above your garage door controls within the app. It’s a handy way to get one-stop access to everything that’s going on in the least inviting room of your house.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best garage door tech as well the best security cameras. You’ll find reviews of competing products at both of those links, plus buyers’ guides to the features you should consider when shopping in those categories.
myq cam app 2 Christopher Null / IDG

Users of myQ garage door openers get the camera view in the same interface.

The camera, which is branded LiftMaster—unlike other all the myQ gear, which bears the Chamberlain service mark—looks much like any basic security camera. It comes on a thin, swiveling stand, but it’s outfitted with a few garage-friendly features. The company says it’s designed with harsher garage environments in mind, with an operating temperature range of -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even better, it has a magnetic base that makes it perfect for mounting on the underside of your garage door opener with zero tools required. If you decide to mount it elsewhere (nothing limits you to the garage), screws and wall anchors are included. Note, however, that the camera is not weatherproof and thus is not suitable for outdoor use.

The camera also works with the Key by Amazon system and app, which in this case would empower Amazon delivery drivers to open your garage and place your Amazon packages securely inside. That service, however, is not universally available (you can check here by providing your zip code).

The camera performs well, with a 140-degree view that was able to capture all three of my garage doors from a vantage point beneath one of the openers. The most obvious use for the camera—and how I’ve been using it—is simply to visually verify that none of the doors have been left open. It’s also a nice backup that helps you confirm that no intruders—human or otherwise—have wandered in uninvited.

Video quality is solid (at 1080p) and includes a helpful time stamp in the top left corner. Night vision is automatic by default and offers a bright enough view to make out distant corners in the dark, though I’ve worked with other cameras that offer better clarity. Two-way audio is also included, but I found that the microphone tends to capture a fair amount of background noise.

myq camera installed 2 Christopher Null / IDG

The magnetic base makes this camera easy to mount beneath your garage door opener, but conventional screw-mount hardware is also provided.

The camera can be configured to alert on motion detection, but note that this is turned off by default. When you turn it on, however, get ready for an onslaught of push notifications and/or emails, depending on your configuration. Simply opening your garage door, going out, and coming back in can generate a series of up to 10 push notifications in a row, sometimes hitting every few seconds. It can be quite an overload, but on the plus side, at least you aren’t likely to miss any alerts.

One consideration you may need to think about is how to power the camera. If you’re mounting the camera on the same garage door opener as a myQ controller, you’ll soon see that you’re out of free outlets, since one will be used for the myQ controller and the other for the garage door opener itself. The LiftMaster Smart Camera uses a simple USB cable and A/C adapter (included) for power, so you’ll need a third outlet for it; plan accordingly and bring an outlet extender to avoid an extra trip up the ladder.

There’s one big, glaring miss with the LiftMaster Smart Garage Camera, and that’s the utter lack of any recording or playback capabilities (local or otherwise) unless you pay for a cloud storage subscription. You can view live, streamed video and capture single-frame grabs without paying extra, but absolutely nothing is saved for later review unless you pony up an extra $3 per month or $30 per year (for 7 days of playback), or $10/month or $100/year (for 30 days of playback). That’s a big ask on top of a camera that already costs $150—which already puts it well above the price range of similarly featured alternatives.

The Ring Indoor Cam, for instance, costs $60, and while Ring’s cloud storage service plan costs about the same, the $10-per-month tier covers an unlimited number of Ring cameras. And if you have a Ring Alarm system, that fee includes professional monitoring for the security system. You won’t get that cool magnetic base with Ring’s camera, though, or compatibility with the Key by Amazon program, either.

To be sure, the LiftMaster Smart Garage Camera is simple, offers solid video quality, and integrates nicely with other myQ products, but unless you’re a hardcore devotee of the LiftMasterverse, the price tag and lack of any level of free video storage will probably be a dealbreaker.

Updated August 19, 2020 to clarify manufacturer and branding details. 

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At a Glance
  • This video camera integrates nicely with the myQ ecosystem, but the high cost and lack of free video playback make it a pricey option.

    Pros

    • Easy to set up and simple to use
    • Magnetic base makes it tailor-made for garage mounting
    • Good overall video quality
    • Integrates well with other myQ gear

    Cons

    • Expensive for the feature set delivered
    • No recording features unless you pay for a subscription
    • Electrical outlet management can be tricky in a garage setting
  
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