[CES 2014] It’s been a while that we reported on Internet Cameras from Samsung Techwin. In fact it was at CES 2012 that Samsung had launched a WiFi SmartCam. The SmartCam HD Pro bring much better features, check the specs: 1080p video recording, 1/2.8” CMOS sensor (this is big for this category of imaging devices), 128-degree wide lens, night vision (16ft), two-way talk, SDXC 64GB memory slot, motion detection, 5 user connections, etc – this is impressive.
I’m quite an Internet camera geek and have experience with DLink, Foscam, Dropcam products and more, so I was very intrigued by this new line up from Samsung. I really like specs above, but beyond that here’s what you should pay attention to:Easy setup: this new Samsung camera can be setup with a PC or with a smart device (iPhone/Android). This is a great option and in my experience, the smart device setup is typically easier and works better. When using this option, the camera turns into an access point to which you can connect like any other WiFi networks, then follow a simple tutorial where you enter the home WiFi name and password. It also works with WEP, so you may not have to type a password at all.
Local recording: It is possible to continuously record a video loop on a microSD card. While this is not completely bulletproof (a thief could steal the card), it is very handy if you camera is hidden and won’t cost you anything. It is also a very simple setup and there is no external storage device or web service to worry about.
Wide viewing angle is good: if you haven’t paid attention to the difference between narrow angle (70 degrees) and wide angle (120 degrees+) for this type of cameras, I have tried both and I would rather have one 120 degrees camera, rather than multiple narrow angles ones. There’s no question about it. If you need a little more details, chances are that the 1080p resolution can make up for it. In the end, with a wide angle, you just need less cameras.
Easy connectivity and low-bandwidth: Users can connect to the cameras without having to do a complex setup because the camera uses a Samsung online service to create a handshake between the camera in your home, and your computer/smartphone on the Internet. Once the handshake is done, the Samsung service steps back and your two devices talk together directly. Samsung is also using a variable bitrate H264 video encoding, so even a 1080p stream can use as little as 2.5Mbps. Samsung says that some competing products can use up to 8 Mbps, which is plausible, but we have not measured this independently.
Motion Zone selection: it is possible to setup the SmartCam HD Pro to analyze a specific portion of an image, let’s say an entry way in your home, or maybe a baby crib. This reduces the amount of false-positive that everyone gets when motion alerts are on. For example, I use a competing product that has motion detection in a room. Whenever a car parks nearby, the lights are strong enough to cause a false positive and I get a notification (imagine how often that is). With a zone selection, I can specifically select a key zone which will not be affected by those light and only get an alert when something is actually happening.
Finally, I find the design of this camera to be quite agreeable and it should blend relatively well in most places with white walls. I’m not sure if Samsung would provide a black version but I haven’t seen one for now. If you want to mount it on a wall, it’s certainly possible, but keep in mind that you have to have some power somehow, so think beyond the marketing photos that don’t show a cable. All in all, this seems like a very good product. If I have time, I’ll try to get my hands on a couple to review it.
There is also a SmartCam HD (not “pro”) that costs $10 less but is limited to 32GB microSD cards, does not feature the dual band WiFi and does not have a wide dynamic range imaging system – for a $10 difference I’m not sure why Samsung bothered created the “non-Pro” version, I’d go for the Pro one. The Smartcam Pro HD model SNH-6410, available in February 2014 for around $189.
- 1080p Full HDTV (2 MP) WiFi IP Camera
- SDXC Memory Card Slot-Up to 64 GB
- Two-Way Talk
- Night Vision Up to 16 ft
- Wide Angle Lens – 128°
- 1/2.8” CMOS imager for enhanced video quality
- Dual Band 2.4 & 5.0 Ghz
- Motion Zone Selection
- Multiple Stream capable
- Advanced Motion Detection
- RJ45 for Ethernet Connection
- H.264 Compression, JPEG Dual Stream
- True Day/Night with IR Cut Filter
- Advanced Low Light Technology (SLE)
- Wide Dynamic Range
- Up to 5 Remote User Connections