The ubiquity of the CCTV (closed-circuit TV) camera has made eagle-eye, always-on surveillance acceptable. Previously only seen in high security establishments like prisons, banks and casinos, CCTV cameras are now installed in village security gates, barangay-outposts and the perimeter of households.
With the internet getting faster, components getting smaller and image resolution getting sharper, what used to be the domain of the CCTV has now become the hotbed for innovation in wifi-enabled cameras. The IP (internet protocol) camera – one that uses the internet to send and receive data-has come to full bloom and is now available to the masses. There are thousands of IP cameras to choose from so choosing THE one will prove to be a daunting task. Among those vying for your wallet is the Qihoo 360 Smart Camera.
The Qihoo 360 Smart Camera features a droplet shape which is reminiscent of a google map marker. It’s clean, smooth and rounded design is nice to look at. It will feel right at home with the minimalist aesthetic if that’s what your after. The look of the Qihoo 360 Smart Camera is definitely on the webcam side than your usual CCTV security camera.
The base has a strong magnet which enables you to stick it to metallic surfaces and position it however you like.
Setting-it up is fairly straightforward: just follow the enclosed instruction booklet. From downloading the “360 Smart Camera” app,it took me less than 10 minutes to properly set-up camera. The set-up included connecting it via a wifi-network and finding a close-enough wall socket so that I can place the said camera on a 7 ft. tall bookshelf.
The 360 Smart Camera features a wide-angle lens, capable of 150 degrees field of vision. During the day, one can unmistakably identify the objects in the room. However, the abundance of light outside tends to oversaturate the window details.
At night, the night-vision works but is limited to just 10-15 feet. Beyond that, you won’t be able to see anything. It’s not ideal for big rooms.
Homewatch: Alerts you when there’s movement.
A nifty setting that alerts the camera owner is “Homewatch”. Think about it as your own alarm system that buzzes you, the owner, by sending you notifications through your mobile phone everytime there’s movement.
2-way audio: built-in microphone and sound
The speakers and the mic are decent. Even when positioned at 7 feet above, I can hear the loud conversation and giggling of the four grade schoolers at the dining table positioned four feet away from the camera. I even played a trick on them, and called out their names through the 360 Smart Camera’s speaker with my phone acting as the microphone. “Enzo, no kicking of the soccerball inside!”, took the boys by surprise and prompting them to ask the eye in the sky, “who was that?” and “how did you know I was playing?”. I had a blast playing Big Brother which goes to show that both the speaker and the microphone are good enough for short verbal exchanges.
It’s unclear whether the camera has internal storage but it does have a microSD slot that can accommodate 32gb. The great thing about IP camera’s though is, since data is transmitted via the cloud, data from you camera is also saved in the cloud. In my test, the camera is able to keep up to 239 video events from the last four days. With four seconds being the length of each video, this equates to almost 16 minutes of video. It also offers its proprietary Cloud Recording service which is available for subscription but purchase of credits from its “360 mall” is currently unavailable. It claims that it can continuously record the most recent 7 or 30 days. But if I were you, purchase a 32gb sd card and don’t bother with the Cloud Recording.
Playing the four-second recordings is, of course, dependent on the quality of your internet connection on both camera and mobile device. A fiber optic connection at home is ideal since you can really max out the recording resolution to 1080p. When paired with a phone that has good data connection, buffering is almost non-existent. Since I only tested it using a PLDT Fibr connection at home, its performance using slower connections cannot be ascertained. Lowering the resolution might help make the streaming quality of the videos acceptable.
Sharing and other features
The 360 Smart Camera also enables more than one person access to the video. Does Mommy want to check on the baby as well while she’s away for work? Just share the access then both of you can watch your baby sleep. Taking a snapshot is also easier with its snapshot button that you can press on the fly.
Final Thoughts and Recommendation
The Qihoo 360 Smart Camera has almost everything you’ll need for an indoor IP camera. Its svelte, droplet profile paired with a maneuverable yet stiff ball and socket base make it one of the flexible and tastefully designed IP cameras in the market. With its capable night-vision and its uber-sensitive anti-theft capability, it’s a compelling package. However, one needs a 32gb SD card to maximize the available recording capability since one can’t purchase credits for its proprietary Cloud Recording. If you’re in the market for an indoor “CCTV” camera, this should be at the top of your list.