- Local or cloud storage options available
- Exceptional motion sensitivity
- Great price
- Lots of trouble with instability and dropped connections
- Notifications didn’t come through for days
This is a basic security system, but it’s tough to find a camera with pan and tilt features at this price.
Pan and tilt features continue to roll out to consumer-level smart security cameras, with EZVIZ the latest to offer such a model in the form of its new C8C cam.
The hardware is presented in an unusual globular design, the bottom half of which can rotate through 352 degrees horizontally and 95 degrees vertically. In other words, with a standard mounting, you can position the lens to see anything below the plane of the camera. Two small antennae emerge from the white upper half of the sphere—2.4GHz Wi-Fi only is supported.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best home security cameras, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
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The unit has no battery and must be permanently connected to AC power, but that’s to be expected for the price. The recently reviewed Reolink Go PT costs almost $250, although it connects to LTE networks instead of Wi-Fi, providing much wider latitude when it comes to installation.
A small pigtail adjacent to the EZVIZ camera’s power cable allows you to connect the system to ethernet instead of Wi-Fi if you prefer, but the system does not support power over ethernet (PoE).
The mounting bracket allows you to install either on a (vertical) wall or the underside of your eaves (horizontally); the all-plastic setup isn’t the sturdiest, but it seems reasonable enough given the price tag. On the plus side, the camera is rated for IP65 protection against dust and water, which should be plenty for the average home environment. (You can read all about IP codes in this other story.)
Setup is undertaken through the EZVIZ app, which handles all the company’s smart home gear. I encountered similar setup errors with the C8C as I did when setting up EZVIZ’s smart plugs, as the C8C’s “automatic” Wi-Fi setup failed to connect to my network. Fortunately, a second process, whereby you manually select the camera’s temporary wireless network before bridging it to your home network, worked without complaint. For the first day of use, I encountered nothing but error messages when attempting to connect to the camera to watch live video or playback clips; after that, things settled down and the system became somewhat steadier. That said, I encountered frequent “network is unstable” errors throughout the course of my testing.
Pan and tilt features are the big draw here, and EZVIZ’s no-frills interface makes this a pretty easy operation, as is using the system’s few additional functions. Naturally, users have the option to snap a photo or begin recording video on demand while viewing the live stream, and the system can be configured to begin recording based either on human detection or on any type of movement. Six levels of motion sensitivity are available, and I found the higher sensitivity levels to be quite capable at pickup up and recording motion.
The unit supports two forms of night vision, including the standard infrared (black and white) version and a color version which is illuminated by a spotlight. There’s also a “smart” mode that defaults to IR but switches to the spotlight if motion is detected (in order to keep the spotlight from being activated all night long). Both modes are reasonably capable, though the range of the spotlight isn’t huge. You’ll get better clarity in the standard IR night mode. As well, that spotlight can also be used for an on-demand “Active Defense” mode, which blinks the light repeatedly as a sort of deterrent against intruders. (However, there’s no speaker on the unit, so there’s no siren and no way to speak to people through two-way audio.)
Videos can be recorded at three quality settings, topping out at 1920 x 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second using H.265 video compression. I generally tested using the lowest quality level—which was fine for most purposes—because I found it greatly improved performance.
Videos can be stored to a microSD card (not included) or transferred to EZVIZ’s cloud service, which offers seven days of storage for $6 per month/$60 per year or 30 days of storage for $11 per month/$110 per year. A three-day version for $4 per month/$40 per year is also available. The camera ships with a 7-day trial of the service, but I began receiving notifications that it had expired on day two, though the cloud storage continued to operate.
Speaking of notifications, the C8C is supposed to alert you when it detects motion, but in my first three days of testing, no matter how I configured the settings in the app, I never received a notification despite hundreds of recordings being logged. Some of EZVIZ’s settings are arcane, poorly translated, and basically undocumented—but I ran through them all. Then, bizarrely, notifications began to arrive on day four, as if by magic. I’m not sure what could have caused all this, but the erratic behavior does seem to impact the C8C’s claims of providing “all-around outdoor protection.”
Finally, the camera works with both video-based Alexa and Google Home devices, should you want to stream your video to another system.
As a first stab at getting into this market for less than $100, EZVIZ has covered most of its bases, although just about everything feels at least a little rough around the edges. In environments where you really just need an extra set of eyes, and security isn’t of the utmost importance, I could get behind picking one up given the exceptionally low price tag.